One switch controls 2 lights

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by oxicottin, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Apr 18, 2009 #1

    oxicottin

    oxicottin

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    Hello, I was wondering how I could wire a switch that could control two lights. My problem is that the power would be closer to the lights instead of the switch. Can I run power to a light then work off of that? Would I need 14/3 which I have some of and I have some 14/2 so no worries there.


    Thanks,
    Chad
     
  2. Apr 19, 2009 #2

    kok328

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    Yes, you can do it that way. 14/2 is fine.
    Run 14/2 to your fixture. Connect the neutral to that fixture. Intercept the hot going to the fixture with a 14/2 switch leg to the switch, coming back to the fixture. Be sure to label the neutral in your switch leg as hot with a piece of black electrical tape on both ends of the switch leg.
     
  3. Apr 19, 2009 #3

    oxicottin

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    kok328 thanks for the reply! Do you know of any links to a diagram that the power would go to a light instead of a switch so I can understand :confused:


    Thanks,
    Chad
     
  4. Apr 19, 2009 #4

    JoeD

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  5. Apr 19, 2009 #5

    oxicottin

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    Thanks the images are very help full! I have one last question on a 3-way switch. The power would go to one switch 1 and from that switch to a light and from switch 1 to another switch. How would I wire this up using 14/3 wire and which wire goes to the black screw. Thanks!

    Here is an example image I made :D

    dads 3way.jpg
     
  6. Apr 26, 2009 #6

    JoeD

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  7. Apr 27, 2009 #7

    locknut

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    oxicottin: Just to apprise of electricians lingo, i.e., what's said around here anyhow, the two wires (red/white) between switches are termed "travelers" (or "lazy legs"). The feed wires to the arms of the switches (SPDT) are the "points."
     
  8. Apr 10, 2014 #8

    Mattr

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    I have a senario just like the diagram posted by joe d in post #4. I wired it to the diagram and I have juice to the circuit all the time. The switch is turned off and on and I still have juice to the circuit . What am I doing wrong? I did not connect the light fixtures yet, just have the wires coming out of the light boxes. Do I need to connect the lights to complete the circuit?
     
  9. Apr 10, 2014 #9

    nealtw

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    Welcome; Are you sure you are checking the right side of the switch. One screw will always be hot, the other one is off, on.
     
  10. Apr 10, 2014 #10

    Mattr

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    I tested for juice at the two light boxes, I thought I was crazy so hooked up a light fixture with bulb and flipped the breaker on and the light stays on with switch on or off.
     
  11. Apr 10, 2014 #11

    Mattr

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    The wiring diagram I am speaking of is the smaller of the two pictures on post #4, using 3 wire between Light fixtures.
     
  12. Apr 10, 2014 #12

    nealtw

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    Take one wire off the switch, do the lights go off? Test the switch, does the switch open?
     
  13. Apr 10, 2014 #13

    JoeD

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    Connect the fixture and see what happens. It will either be on or off all the time or work properly. You will not cause and harm.

    If you are using a digital meter you could be getting a false reading called phantom voltage.
     
  14. Apr 10, 2014 #14

    nealtw

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    In post 10 he did that and the lights stayed on.
     
  15. Apr 10, 2014 #15

    Wuzzat?

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    For one switch controlling two lights the basic circuit is that
    the lights are in parallel (assembly 1),
    the switch and the power source are in series (assembly 2),
    and these two assemblies are in series.

    In addition, the lamp socket center contact should be hot (120v above ground) so that the threaded shell which is more accessible to the user is close to ground.

    What gets messy is having the additional constraint of having the wire colors correspond to some version of the electrical code so future workers know what you did.
    Houses don't seem to come with schematics or wiring diagrams; the wire colors are the diagram.

    For further confusion: are outlets in a branch circuit in series or in parallel?
    I'd say the hot sides (short slots) are in series and
    the neutral sides (long slots) are in series but
    each outlet is in parallel with the others.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  16. Apr 10, 2014 #16

    Mattr

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    just took off one wire from the switch and i have juice on both sides, so i determined that the switch is bad. Replaced it and we are good. Thanks Nealtw for pointing that out...
     
  17. Apr 10, 2014 #17

    nealtw

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    That is what I was hoping for but I was afraid you had bigger things happening. :beer:
     
  18. Apr 10, 2014 #18

    Wuzzat?

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    And the OP might well have. . .:clap: This was lucky.

    A wire coming out of a wall could go to hot, neutral, ground, the upstream or downstream side of a switch or a load like a lamp or an appliance or to nothing at all and so you'd get a phantom voltage.
    Checking for each can be tedious, especially when your tester gives you false readings.

    If I had only one tester it'd be a high wattage 240v bulb or two 120v bulbs in series. A single 120v bulb will do but you run the risk of putting it across 240v. Which reminds me, wear eye protection and if you are really risk-averse, wear face protection.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  19. Apr 10, 2014 #19

    nealtw

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    Let's not go to panic mode to fast. He said, he understude the diagram and followed correctly, that only left the switch. I would not have suggested hooking up the lights in case he had a 220 situation but more likely a mistake would have been 2 sources from the same breaker.
    Sometimes the best answer is nothing better than better questions.
     
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  20. Apr 10, 2014 #20

    Wuzzat?

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    One time I figured out how many ways you could hook one, two or three wires to an outlet that has hot, neutral and ground.
    Just listing them was exhaustive and amounted to about 30 ways, which means your odds of getting it right by guessing was about 1 in 30.
    Of course, DIYers know stuff (some right and some wrong) and so the odds are considerably better but still in favor of Murphy's Law.

    IIRC a book on troubleshooting said to take one guess and then get back to basics and follow the tried and true troubleshooting routines, tedious and slow as they may be.
    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=polya+solving+problems&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
    You trade slowness for certainty.

    My guesses, and those of people on forums who fix by replacing parts, are hardly ever right so almost immediately I start checking the basics.
    It follows from this that learning the basics will almost always serve you, sooner or later. And knowing these means you hardly ever panic.

    A few times I ran into 'impossible' situations, which I soon learned meant that I was assuming something that was not true. Finding that unconscious assumption of mine was real work. :(
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014

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