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Old 11-26-2007, 10:38 PM   #1
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tapping into a current light switch


I am adding 4 recessed lights to my living room. They are Utilitech 3 inch gimbal kit with a 50 watt max bulb. I have 3 light switches on a nearby wall. Can I tap into one of those switches for my power supply and add a dimmer switch for my new recessed lights? If I can How is that done? Do I need 14, 12 or 10 wire? Please help..

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Old 11-26-2007, 11:02 PM   #2
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tapping into a current light switch


I understanding you to mean you want to get power from the switch box and run it to another location for the switch for the gimbals? You would have a lot of options here.... you could add a switch to the 3 gang that is existing by installing a four gang box and then a dimmer at another location giving you a 3-way switch scheme allowing dimming from the one location and on - off control from both locations. Or just run power to another switch location.

The key will be if you have an incoming power cable in the 3 switch box that has a neutral with it.

Do you know how to check for that?

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Old 11-26-2007, 11:09 PM   #3
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tapping into a current light switch


The size wire is determined by the breaker protecting the branch circuit. If 20 amp use 12 ga, if 15 amp use 14 ga.
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Old 11-27-2007, 06:37 AM   #4
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I do not know how to check for that. I also will only need 1 switch to control the new lights.
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Old 11-27-2007, 12:45 PM   #5
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tapping into a current light switch


You can buy double switches at the big box stores. It fits just like a receptacle and uses a receptacle plate. Two switches in place of one.
Dimmer will replace any light switch except flourescents lights.
You can add the new fixtures to the existing circuit without going into the box if you want also. But all the lights will burn at the same time. The sky is the limit on what you can do.
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Old 11-27-2007, 07:22 PM   #6
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tapping into a current light switch


You may or may not be able to get power from the existing switch box. Depends if power comes into the box or if it is only switch loops. If you have only black and white wires all connected to the switches then you an not get power from the switch box.
If you have a group of whites connected together and not connected to the switches then you can add another switch and run a cable to your lights from this box.
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Old 11-27-2007, 07:46 PM   #7
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tapping into a current light switch


Eric

Joes reply is probably as simple as it is going to get to determine if power is obtainable in your switch box. Can you give us a description on what color of wires actually connect to the switches and how many wires connect to the switches? Do not include the bare copper wires these are grounds and we don't need that.

I am a little concerned with you fooling with electricity if you can't determine if you have a neutral in that switchbox.

Do you have a voltage tester so you will know if power is off before you touch any wires?

I can give you a diagram of how this is done, however I'm wondering though if it might be just as easy for you to get power from a receptacle. Is there one close by where you want the switch. A receptacle will pretty much will always have a constant hot and a neutral.
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Old 11-28-2007, 10:11 PM   #8
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tapping into a current light switch



I have four sets of wires entering the switch box. The group on the left is red, white and black. The red is connected to the top left. The black is connected to the top right and the white is connected to the bottom right. There are two groups of wire connected to the middle switch. The 2nd set of wires are red, black and white and the 3rd set of wires are black and white. The 2 white are connected together. The 2 black wires are connected together with a tail connecting to the botom right of the single pole switch and the red is connected to the top right. The 4th set of wires are red, black and white. The black is connected on the top left. The red is connected to the top right and the white is connected to the bottom right. Also the two switches on the right are connected to the same 15 amp breaker.
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Old 11-29-2007, 12:13 AM   #9
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tapping into a current light switch


Quote:
The 3rd set of wires are black and white. The 2 white are connected together. The 2 black wires are connected together with a tail connecting to the bottom right of the single pole switch and the red is connected to the top right.
This is your incoming power.... the cable with the black and white. You need to connect to it with a black, white and ground wire of the same size wire that is connected to the single pole switch (middle switch)

See if this diagram makes any sense to you.....A 600 watt dimmer should be fine with four 50 watt halogens.

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Old 11-29-2007, 06:38 AM   #10
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tapping into a current light switch


I think I got it. I just want to double check. The 3rd cable entering the box that is connected to the single pole switch is a black and white wire. I want to make a tail on all the wires(white, black and ground). I connect the black wire to the new single pole dimmer switch on the top. Then connect the new wire that connects to the gimbals. With the new wire I connect the black wire to the dimmer switch and just tie the wites together. Now I just connect the light to the dimmer switch. Black to black and white to white on every light.
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Old 11-29-2007, 10:42 AM   #11
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tapping into a current light switch


I wanted to add an addition recessed light which will bring the total number of lights to five. Can I still connect all of the lights together on one 600W single pole dimmer switch?
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Old 11-29-2007, 11:16 AM   #12
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6 x 50 watts = 300 watts.
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Old 11-29-2007, 11:26 AM   #13
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tapping into a current light switch


Sounds like you have it right. You should always check with a voltage tester to make sure your getting a connection to a incoming power feed. From your description the black and white cable that has the black wire pigtail (in the wirenut) connected to the single pole switch is your incoming power cable. You will simply connect your new cable going to the dimmer to the wire nuts that cable is connected in. Black to the blacks, white to the whites and grounds together. Make sure you get good connections. If you have trouble with wirenuts (new ones) and getting all the wires in them... get some push connectors like this.......make sure they have enough holes to connect the number of wires you have.... use these instead of the wirenuts.

the big box stores carry them.

At the Dimmer box....

You will have three wires on a single pole dimmer one will be the ground it will be a green screw or a green wire. The other two are your black wire connections it doesn't matter which black wire or brass screw you connect your blacks from your new cables. Connect the 2 whites together in a wirenut. Some dimmers have wires to connect to and some use screws and some have a hole you connect into... don't let this confuse you.

You will only have 250 watts to dim with (5 x 50) watt halogens so your fine with a 600 watt dimmer.

It is imperative that you use some kind of voltage tester to make sure you have power off to that electrical box. You have more than one circuit in there.

It wouldn't hurt to have someone with you that has done this type of installation.

Last edited by Stubbie; 11-29-2007 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:24 AM   #14
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tapping into a current light switch


Thank you everyone for the help! I now have recessed lights and they look great. Thank you again..

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