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Thread: Tap wall switch for outlets to add overhead light?

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    DIY Junior Member snorp's Avatar
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    Default Tap wall switch for outlets to add overhead light?

    30 year old house w/wall switch for power outlets. Am adding an overhead light and a switch for it.

    Can I tap the incoming power to the existing switch and run to another switch to provide power for the new overhead light? This would set up two parallel circuits - yes? That's okay?

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    We cannot see exactly what you are working with so it is not simple to advise.

    You will need power, neutral, and ground wires to install a new light and switch. Depending on how the existing circuit is wired, those things might or might not be available in an existing switch box.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    If there is a neutral available in the box, then you can use a "tandem" switch to control both lights using a single "hot" feed, but if the switch is going to be "remote" from the existing one, then you can use almost any source of power, including the existing switch, to connect the switch to it.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    We cannot see exactly what you are working with so it is not simple to advise.

    You will need power, neutral, and ground wires to install a new light and switch. Depending on how the existing circuit is wired, those things might or might not be available in an existing switch box.
    So let me get this straight, you aren't sure if there is a power in the box that switches a light?

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Power, certainly, neutral, maybe...need both, along with a valid ground.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Power, certainly, neutral, maybe...need both, along with a valid ground.
    Exactly. Switches at the end of a run often do not have a neutral in the box.

    I recently read that the new code cycle no longer allows this practice. The sparkies will have to run an extra conductor if the switch is at the end of the run.
    Last edited by cacher_chick; 12-02-2011 at 04:21 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    I don't see how this is so complicated.

    If you don't already have neutral in the box, you replace the 14/2 w/ 14/3... done.

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You make a lot of assumptions, including that the OP has the knowledge, skills, and ability to understand and follow through with what is being posted.

    He has told us nothing except for the fact that there is a switch on the wall and he wants to install a light on the ceiling.

    Instead of being a pain in the butt, why not try being helpful?
    You are good at one, but not so good at the other.
    Last edited by jwelectric; 12-02-2011 at 05:12 PM. Reason: change slng ord

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    You make a lot of assumptions, including that the OP has the knowledge, skills, and ability to understand and follow through with what is being posted.

    He has told us nothing except for the fact that there is a switch on the wall and he wants to install a light on the ceiling.

    Instead of being a pain in the ass, why not try being helpful?
    You are good at one, but not so good at the other.
    Being helpful in the case of telling someone how to mess with the wiring in their house is probably not wise.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; The sparkies will have to run an extra conductor if the switch is at the end of the run.

    Now WHAT possible purpose would having a "dead" neutral wire in a switch box serve? Would that also apply to a "three way switch" at the end of a run which NEVER has a constant "hot" wire to it, or do they have to run TWO "future" conductors to make it easier for DIYers to modify their systems?
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Now WHAT possible purpose would having a "dead" neutral wire in a switch box serve? Would that also apply to a "three way switch" at the end of a run which NEVER has a constant "hot" wire to it, or do they have to run TWO "future" conductors to make it easier for DIYers to modify their systems?
    Every switch is now required to have a neutral for occupancy sensors and remote switching devices. In the past these devices would use the EGC or allow small amounts of current to flow through the fixture in order to have a continuous path for them to work.

    It became such a problem with buildings that had several of these devices that people was being hurt that the new requirement to install a neutral to every switch was mandated.

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    I don't own a code book, so I cannot comment on the reasoning.

    I suspect that it may also be in relation to all the new light bulbs on the market which will not work with a standard dimmer switch, as the electronic dimmers require a neutral.

    The problem is also often run into when one wants to replace a standard switch with a timer or a lighted switch requiring a neutral.

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