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Old 05-08-2008, 10:13 PM   #1
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recessed lights connection


Hi, I just installed recessed lights and electrician told me that I have to get romex into switch box. This switch box control couple of outlets in the room (there was no any lighting on the ceiling).

I was thinking that I can get into controlled outlets box where we have both wires open . And in the switch box there is no open neutral, I just afraid to mess with neutral. Anybody can share experience, should i worry about neutral overload ?


tx
dai


Last edited by dainova; 05-08-2008 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 05-09-2008, 11:00 AM   #2
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recessed lights connection


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Originally Posted by dainova View Post
I was thinking that I can get into controlled outlets box where we have both wires open . And in the switch box there is no open neutral, I just afraid to mess with neutral. Anybody can share experience, should i worry about neutral overload ?
Assuming that this is not a neutral from another circuit, you do not have to worry about overloading the neutral. Remember: for a 2-wire, 1-ph. branch circuit current in = current out. Another way to think of it is, whatever current is flowing from the panel to the load via the hot conductor is equal in magnitude to the current returning via the neutral for that circuit. And it doesn't matter how many neutrals are pig-tailed together.

BTW, I used the terms "flowing from" and "returning via" in reference to current flow. This is taken from a hydraulic analogy of electricity and is not 100% correct. It's a convenient way to think of it though but I didn't want to start an off-topic conversation in your post with some of the seasoned professionals here!

JImmy

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Old 05-09-2008, 03:27 PM   #3
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Tx, Jimmy !

Really amazed with you explanation, thanks a lot.
That what I thought, in practice I don't think that you can find netral from another countur in the same box.
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Old 05-09-2008, 04:19 PM   #4
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Tx, Jimmy !

Really amazed with you explanation, thanks a lot.
That what I thought, in practice I don't think that you can find netral from another countur in the same box.
No problem. I guess that the only time you'd probably find multiple neutrals belonging to as many circuits is when this is a conduit installation. I had to say it, simply to qualify my answer in case you were dealing with a pipe and wire install.
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Old 05-09-2008, 05:58 PM   #5
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recessed lights connection


Yes,
I've saw a switch box in old building with a bunch of white neutrals, which probably belongs to different curcuits.
What is the best way to find needed neutral in this case, with continuity tester ?

tx
dai
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Old 05-10-2008, 03:23 PM   #6
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Yes,
I've saw a switch box in old building with a bunch of white neutrals, which probably belongs to different curcuits.
If the neutrals in your instance are all pigtailed together, then they are all part of the same branch circuit. The only place where you should ever see neutrals from different circuits connected together is at the main or sub panel. If you found this from different circuits down stream from the panel, i.e. in a box, then you have on the following:

1. Multi-wire branch circuit (which is completely legal)
2. Two individual, same-leg branch circuits that are sharing a neutral return (this is not correct).

I think I'm getting a bit deep at this point though and I don't want to make you lose your focus! Let's get back to your original post.

Ok, you're adding the lights. You are going to derive power (hot) from either the switch box or switched receptacle box. You need to also pick up the neutral from this same circuit. If possible (but this is just my opinion) I'd get both from the switch box that will have the switch for these lights since that is where you'd expect the connections to be made and this will simplify troubleshooting or expansion later for someone else. You mentioned that there are already several neutrals connected together in this box which implies that several outlets (an "outlet" does not necessarily mean receptacle; it can be a lighting outlet as well) are being powered/switched from this box. Therein, you will tie the neutral of your new recessed can lights into this existing arrangement.

As I mentioned, you needn't be worried about overloading the neutral. Nor should you be worried about physically connecting here either as long as you properly de-energize the circuit that shares this neutral before you start. Also, when connecting your new neutral to the existing connections, if this is solid wire, try to twist the new wire onto the old with a pair of pliers before installing the wire nut. And make sure that the nut itself is listed for the number of conductors at the splice point. If you cannot tell, you can always buy some at the local big-box/hardware that will have this info on the package.

Good luck,
Jimmy
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Old 05-10-2008, 03:28 PM   #7
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What is the best way to find needed neutral in this case, with continuity tester ?
In the box, if you have several neutrals, you probably have several hot conductors as well. It sounds like you already know that the feed for the circuit is here so there should be a separate hot/neutral cable coming in as well. Hot is probably pigtailed to the existing switches to provide power for both. Turn everything on and then kill the breaker (you may need to plug in some lamps, radios, etc., into the recepts if you suspect that they are fed from here. Then kill the breaker for the circuit and use a volt meter to verify (unless you're completely sure) that there is the circuit is dead (you can shove one lead into the hot wire nut and then touch the other to neutral or bare ground wire). Do not open neutrals under load in any instance!

Jimmy
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:49 PM   #8
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Jimmy,
Thanks so much for super info, so nice you met my question.

I'm super good now, all done and I can sleep save now.

Best
Dai

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