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Thread: Controlling under-cabinet fluorescent fixtures with a wall switch

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    DIY Junior Member bmaker's Avatar
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    Default Controlling under-cabinet fluorescent fixtures with a wall switch

    I just installed a set of 4 under-cabinet fluorescent fixtures. These are GE's with T5 tubes. The fixtures come with a 3-prong plug so they have to be plugged in to their own receptacles or daisy chained together. I plugged in the first one and daisy-chained the other three with the connecting cables supplied with the fixtures. I want to be able to be able to turn them all on from a wall switch instead of individually with the little rocker switches on each fixture. But I noticed a warning label on both the power cord and the connecting cables that said something like "not for interrupted power" or something like that. Does that mean I cannot turn these lights on with a wall switch? I was going to leave the first one plugged in to one side of a duplex receptacle and replace the other side of the receptacle with a switch. Why wouldn't that work?

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Assuming that the receptacle that you are plugging into is over the countertop it would be a violation of the NEC as this countertop receptacle cannot support lighting.

    Should you install a circuit just for the lighting then what you purpose would be compliant.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Should you install a circuit just for the lighting then what you purpose would be compliant.

    Sounds a bit "over the top" for a minimal wattage lighting requirement.

    If the label is on the cord, I would suspect they mean you should not unplug the cords to turn the fixture off or plug it in to turn them on.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member bmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    Assuming that the receptacle that you are plugging into is over the countertop it would be a violation of the NEC as this countertop receptacle cannot support lighting.

    Should you install a circuit just for the lighting then what you purpose would be compliant.
    Thanks for the reply! Is the code concern that the "over the counter top" outlet is on a 20 amp breaker and lights only need 15 amp? Other than that I couldn't imagine that the NEC would care whether I plugged in a 60 watt table lamp (aka under-cabinet light) or a 1200 watt crock pot.

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    DIY Junior Member bmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Should you install a circuit just for the lighting then what you purpose would be compliant.

    Sounds a bit "over the top" for a minimal wattage lighting requirement.

    If the label is on the cord, I would suspect they mean you should not unplug the cords to turn the fixture off or plug it in to turn them on.
    I appreciate your thoughts on this. I'm hoping you're right. But I want to make sure it's safe and code-compliant since it's my daughter's house!

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    The counter-top receptacles are required to be on their own circuit, which is not allowed any other use. You can purchase direct-wire lights in the same configuration, but you will need an alternate circuit to supply them.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmaker View Post
    Thanks for the reply! Is the code concern that the "over the counter top" outlet is on a 20 amp breaker and lights only need 15 amp? Other than that I couldn't imagine that the NEC would care whether I plugged in a 60 watt table lamp (aka under-cabinet light) or a 1200 watt crock pot.
    there is a big difference between a table lamp and a lamp that is fixed. The 20 amp circuit is for small appliances only. If we were allowed to install lights on this same circuit then we would load the circuit before we reached the wattage needed for portable applinces such as but not limited to 12 to 14 hundred watt coffee makers, 12 to 19 hundred watt crock pots. 12 to 19 hundred watt deep fryers, and the list goes on

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    IBEW Electrician big2bird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmaker View Post
    I appreciate your thoughts on this. I'm hoping you're right. But I want to make sure it's safe and code-compliant since it's my daughter's house!
    Is it compliant to the letter of the code? No.
    Is it safe and not endangering your daughter? I don't see a giant threat here. I bet we are talking 25-40 watts here.

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    DIY Junior Member bmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big2bird View Post
    Is it compliant to the letter of the code? No.
    Is it safe and not endangering your daughter? I don't see a giant threat here. I bet we are talking 25-40 watts here.
    Four fixtures @ 13w ea = 52w. All done. Looks great!

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