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Old 11-18-2011, 04:28 PM   #1
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


Hello, I'm attempting to install a GFI outlet to an existing single pole light switch for the bathroom which has no current outlet. The house is approx. 60 years old, wiring is in good shape. I removed the cover, secured the power and pulled the switch out to find a black, white and ground wire attached. I've purchased the GFI outlet and cover for the switch and outlet. Can I install the GFCI outlet with the light switch and have constant power to the outlet with only these wires?


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Old 11-18-2011, 04:43 PM   #2
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


The short answer is no.

Those wires are for a 2-wire switch loop, and do not have the required neutral conductor present.

You will need an additional cable in order to feed the GFCI device. In a bathroom (in the US) that means you need a 20Amp circuit.

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Old 11-18-2011, 04:44 PM   #3
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


You can not install a receptacle in that location. You have a switch loop. The is no neutral in that switch box. Find another option to install your GFCI. If you are in the USA then it also needs to be a 20 amp circuit.
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Old 11-18-2011, 05:31 PM   #4
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


So, guess I would be unable to install a regular outlet as well or can I use it to work switched? Sounds like I'll have to install new, if I'm understanding correctly.

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Old 11-18-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


you cannot install any outlet there, unfortunately
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:40 PM   #6
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
The short answer is no.

Those wires are for a 2-wire switch loop, and do not have the required neutral conductor present.

You will need an additional cable in order to feed the GFCI device. In a bathroom (in the US) that means you need a 20Amp circuit.
maybe I'm speaking "out of turn" but didn't he say that he has a black and white wire? isn't that hot and neutral?
yes,this is probably a 15A circuit,but the GFCI in my house is 15A and it works fine.

tnx,
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:19 PM   #7
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


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Originally Posted by analogmusicman

maybe I'm speaking "out of turn" but didn't he say that he has a black and white wire? isn't that hot and neutral?
yes,this is probably a 15A circuit,but the GFCI in my house is 15A and it works fine.

tnx,
It was stated that the white is attached to the switch, which means it is part of the loop already mentioned. Codes prohibit the switching of neutrals which further supports the switch loop claim.
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Old 11-19-2011, 12:34 AM   #8
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


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It was stated that the white is attached to the switch, which means it is part of the loop already mentioned. Codes prohibit the switching of neutrals which further supports the switch loop claim.
lets say we just disconnect the switch,take it out of the box and lay it aside. we now have a black and a white wire going to the panel. this is now a 15A circuit like any other 15A circuit or am I missing something? are you saying those wires might not be going right to the panel? the black wire isn't really hot? the white wire isn't really neutral? what on earth would preclude anyone from just connecting those 2 wires to a 15A GFCI? maybe you're saying there's some sort of safety concern? where? I know that I personally would wire the GFCI to those 2 wires and definitely wouldn't have any inspectors coming around telling me I need a 20A circuit. that's "balderdash" since the newer code that dictates 20A for bathrooms is for "convenience" only (people nowadays run hair dryers and electric heaters in their bathrooms and we don't want to be resetting breakers all the time,right?) there's just as much safety with a 15A GFCI as with a 20A GFCI!

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Old 11-19-2011, 12:53 AM   #9
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


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Originally Posted by analogmusicman View Post
lets say we just disconnect the switch,take it out of the box and lay it aside. we now have a black and a white wire going to the panel. this is now a 15A circuit like any other 15A circuit or am I missing something? are you saying those wires might not be going right to the panel? the black wire isn't really hot? the white wire isn't really neutral? what on earth would preclude anyone from just connecting those 2 wires to a 15A GFCI? maybe you're saying there's some sort of safety concern? where? I know that I personally would wire the GFCI to those 2 wires and definitely wouldn't have any inspectors coming around telling me I need a 20A circuit. that's "balderdash" since the newer code that dictates 20A for bathrooms is for "convenience" only (people nowadays run hair dryers and electric heaters in their bathrooms and we don't want to be resetting breakers all the time,right?) there's just as much safety with a 15A GFCI as with a 20A GFCI!

tnx,
What the OP has is a black a white and a green or bare copper wire in the switch box there for it is just a switch loop in the light the black feed connects to the white wire going to one post on the switch the black wire connects to the other post on the switch that goes back up to the light and connects to the black wire in the light when you close the switch that closes the loop and the light lights.


So there is no neutral in the switch box so he will need to pull a new circuit.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:02 AM   #10
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


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It was stated that the white is attached to the switch, which means it is part of the loop already mentioned. Codes prohibit the switching of neutrals which further supports the switch loop claim.
FYI…Code does not prohibit the switching of a neutral. It can be switched if the ungrounded conductors are disconnected prior to or simultaneously with the disconnection of the neutral. It’s just not commonly done.

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lets say we just disconnect the switch,take it out of the box and lay it aside. we now have a black and a white wire going to the panel. this is now a 15A circuit like any other 15A circuit or am I missing something? are you saying those wires might not be going right to the panel? the black wire isn't really hot? the white wire isn't really neutral?
If you take a switch out that only has a black and white attached to it, that cable does not run back to the panel. If it did, you would be creating a dead short when you flipped the switch (direct ‘hot’ to neutral connection, with no load inline). A proper 2 wire switch leg (black and white) is made by connecting to a cable that does run back to the panel (eventually or directly), but it is only connected to the ‘hot’ wire. The switch leg is merely bringing power down to, and returning it from the switch, with the switch making or breaking contact with that wire.

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since the newer code that dictates 20A for bathrooms is for "convenience" only (people nowadays run hair dryers and electric heaters in their bathrooms and we don't want to be resetting breakers all the time,right?) there's just as much safety with a 15A GFCI as with a 20A GFCI!
tnx,
The purpose is to avoid using extension cords. Same reasoning we have the 6 foot rule for wall spaces and 2 foot rule for countertops.
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Old 11-19-2011, 09:48 PM   #11
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


[The purpose is to avoid using extension cords. Same reasoning we have the 6 foot rule for wall spaces and 2 foot rule for countertops.
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could you explain,I must be dense.

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Old 11-19-2011, 10:20 PM   #12
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


Most appliances have a two foot cord or longer on them. By making no space on the counter top further than 2 feet from a receptacle it guarantees that an appliance placed anywhere on the counter surface can be plugged in without an extension cord. If the receptacles are four feet apart and you place the appliance exactly in the center of them, it is two feet to either receptacle.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:05 AM   #13
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


To expand on JoeD, the cord on most other non-kitchen appliance like a lamp is 6' long so a receptacle every 12' means no extension cords are normally needed in the rest of the house.
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:45 PM   #14
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Adding new GFCI outlet to existing light switch


we've gone pretty far "afield" here,haven't we? I'm sure the original questioner is totally "baffelled" as to why we're now talking about extension cords when all he wanted to know was whether he could install a GFCI! BTW:my answer is still YES!

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Old 11-20-2011, 04:26 PM   #15
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And yes would still be the wrong answer. There is no nuetral at the switch box.

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