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Old 10-08-2010, 08:14 PM   #1
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


In my bathroom I currently have an overhead light, a vanity light, and a ceiling fan. I have 3 switches on my switch panel, each controlling one of the items (each light has its own switch, and fan has its own).

What I want to do is control both lights from the same switch, keep the fan on its own switch, and use the now-empty slot for an electric socket (GFCI outlet).

There are 3 white wires that go into the box, they are combined together, not connected to anything.

I've attached pictures.. If you cant make out whats going on:

- 1 set of wires entering the box from the bottom center, black\white\copper.
- Two sets of wires entering the box from the top, one set on each left and right, each with black\white in it.


In the box:

The white wires from all 3 sets are bundled together with a connecter.

The black wire coming into the box from the center is pigtailed and there is a wire from this connection going to the bottom screw of all 3 switches.

The black wire coming from the wire sets on the top left\right side is connected to the top screw of the switches that control each light.

There is also a red wire that leads into the same hole where the top right bundle is entering which is connected to the top screw of the fan switch.

Switch order is pictured.

Leftmost = ceiling light
center = ceiling fan
rightmost = vanity light

Want to go from:
Switch - Switch - Switch for Light - Fan - Light
to
Outlet - Switch - Switch for n\a - Fan - Light+Light

Any help is appreciated, let me know if more info is needed.
Attached Thumbnails
Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet-pic1.jpg   Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet-pic2.jpg   Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet-pic3.jpg  

Last edited by RyanS2000; 10-08-2010 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:01 PM   #2
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


My belief is as follows:

-Disable power.
-Remove left switch (two black wires are now disconnected - one from wire nut and one directly out of box).
-On right switch, locate black load wire (not from wire nut group) and remove from switch
-Connect together the two load wires formerly from the left and right switches, along with a short pigtail of black-insulated wire
-connect the new pigtail to the right switch
-Add a white pigtail to the existing bundle of white wires
-Connect the black pigtail formerly connected to the left switch to the GFI supply connection
-Connect the newly added white pigtail to the GFI neutral connection

All devices should also be grounded

Restore power. Check things for correct operation.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:41 PM   #3
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


Worked like a charm! Thank you so much.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:42 PM   #4
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


By code, an outlet can only be added to this circuit if BOTH of these are true, which is unlikely:

1. This circuit is 20 amps.
2. This circuit serves this bathroom ONLY.

A circuit can supply power to either:
1 bathroom, outlets and lighting/fan
or
Multiple bathrooms, outlets ONLY

I don't know if this rule applies since this is an existing circuit, but since it is being changed, it might.

Obviously it works despite being against code, and I don't really think this is a safety issue, other than the possibility of tripping a breaker with a hairdryer or something and being left in the dark.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:44 PM   #5
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


Quote:
Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
By code, an outlet can only be added to this circuit if BOTH of these are true, which is unlikely:

1. This circuit is 20 amps.
2. This circuit serves this bathroom ONLY.

A circuit can supply power to either:
1 bathroom, outlets and lighting/fan
or
Multiple bathrooms, outlets ONLY

I don't know if this rule applies since this is an existing circuit, but since it is being changed, it might.
Will the circuit box/breaker let me know of amperage?

How do I confirm this? When I shut off the breaker for this bathroom in the basement, only this bathroom loses power.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:49 PM   #6
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


The breaker should have the amperage stamped right on it. On some breakers it can be hard to read, but it should be there somewhere...

So that circuit only powered 2 lights and a fan? Would be very code-friendly if so to add an outlet (if it's 20A) but I would think something else is powered by that circuit...maybe not though since maybe this bathroom was added later on, being that it's in a basement?
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Last edited by secutanudu; 10-08-2010 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:55 PM   #7
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


Quote:
Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
The breaker should have the amperage stamped right on it. On some breakers it can be hard to read, but it should be there somewhere...

So that circuit only powered 2 lights and a fan? Would be very code-friendly if so to add an outlet (if it's 20A) but I would think something else is powered by that circuit...
Believe it or not, yes. The entire box is labeled and the breaker for the bathroom is labeled "MB Bath"; when I flipped the breaker, no other part of the house lost power..mind you, it's a 3BR ranch home.

My wife and I just purchased the house in March of 09, the previous owner (was original owner) from what I've been told worked for the electric company so I'm assuming he was on top of the electrical wiring in the home. Aside from electricity, every aspect of the home was meticulously cared for.

Also, do you agree with the wiring instructions posted above? I followed them exactly and it does work exactly how I wanted.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:59 PM   #8
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


If it's working as you want, the instructions were correct
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:02 PM   #9
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


Checked amperage, 15A. My only worries are tripping the breaker if too much current is being pulled, correct?
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Old 10-08-2010, 11:06 PM   #10
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


I believe so, yes.
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Old 10-09-2010, 04:12 PM   #11
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


regarding code, I know only what I have learned from places like this. I understand existing structures are not required to be upgraded, but if changes are made, then one is compelled to bring it up to full code compliance. (Perhaps others can confirm this.) In the world of code, there appears to be little gray area.

In my world, however, I find gray areas. I often ask myself the question about whether a change is safer than before, even if not fully code compliant. Is a GFI outlet safer than a non-GFI outlet (or no outlet?) even if it is on only a 15a circuit? Is it safer even if there are other non-bath outlets on the same circuit? I know how I would answer these questions.

I defer to the experts about the code compliance issue, but for me, I find the decision about whether to push ahead includes many considerations.
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:51 PM   #12
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


I agree. In this case, having an outlet on a 15A circuit serving only one bathroom...I'd probably do it myself the same way rather than run a new circuit for that outlet.
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Old 10-09-2010, 11:33 PM   #13
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


Must be GFI in bathroom!!! what you are doing is not code compliant but it will work, but for safety please put in a GFI
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Old 10-10-2010, 02:17 AM   #14
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Wiring 2 light fixtures to same switch and add outlet


The other thing you have to check the grounding conductor{bare conductor} to make sure they are landed on the box I know most older home the chance to find the grounding conductor can be like long shot due some of the older NM do not have any grounding conductor in there.

If that the case you have to install the sticker on say no equiment grounding simuair to like that.

Merci,
Marc
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