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Old 10-16-2009, 12:12 PM   #1
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How to find switch for lights that are always on


I have 4 outside lights, 2 around the front door and 2 around the garage doors. The 2 outside the front door are controlled by a switch inside the door. I can't find a switch that works on the 2 around the garage, they are always on.

Any tips on how to find the switch? I noticed something in the C. Tire flyer today, a "wire tracer" or circuit tracer or something like that. Would something like that work?

Thanks in advance
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:45 PM   #2
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Find Light Switch


It's possible that the original lights were dusk to dawn and/or motion sensitive lights and were installed without a light switch.

Probably the easiest way to find a switch, if there is one, is to turn your circuit breakers off, one by one, and see which circuit the garage lights are on. Once you identify the circuit, you can also determine what other lights or receptacles are on the same circuit. If there is a switch it will likely be in the vicinity of the other lights, switches or receptacles.

Another way is to go into the attic above the garage, if you can, and identify the cables feeding the garage lights and then trace them by hand and see where they go. One light will likely have two cables (power in and the feed to light two) into it and the other will have one cable, from the first light. Follow the cable that does not go between the lights and see where it leads.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:12 PM   #3
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There's always goofy practises done by goofy people. There's probably no sensor involved if they are on continuously. I thought a switch is required by code and if not, it's certainly required by good sense. If in fact you trace the wiring as czars suggests, but don't find one, I'd suggest you simply add one yourself. You might consider what I did for a friend. The light over his garage door did have a switch, but that was the only one and required entering the garage to operate the light. I was able to run a low voltage line into the garage from inside the house which controlled a relay that operated the light. Good hunting.

Last edited by oilseal; 10-16-2009 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:21 PM   #4
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Could also be a switch that failed by shorting, like if the contacts were welded closed.
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Old 10-17-2009, 05:29 AM   #5
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I would start by looking inside the switch box of the lights that are switched and see if the cable of the lights that are constantly on is in there and just tied to the hot. Someone may have taken it off the switch and just tied it constant hot.
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:51 AM   #6
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Are there any switches that don't do anything (and could be candidates for being worn out and stuck on)?

Label all the switches as you go about looking so you don't run yourself in circles retrying switches because you forgot which ones you already tried.

Sometimes the switch for a garage including a detached garage could be back at the house.
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Old 10-17-2009, 12:58 PM   #7
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Follow the cable from the lights to the first box. Check to see if the wires are connected hot. (see SD515's post above) If so, it may be possible the installer intended for the lights to burn 24-7. If this is the case, just add you're own switch.
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Old 10-17-2009, 01:04 PM   #8
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Hoping to poke around today...

- can't physically trace the wire (no attic, walls inside garage are drywalled)
- I don't believe they were originally a motion/photocell light, they're the same fixtures as what are installed beside the front door
- There are a couple switches that don't seem to do anything, I'll test for continuity while I'm looking around

Thanks for all the suggestions!
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