I just helped a friend redo his bathroom. We added 2 wall lights to a
switch that had 2 lights on it already. We ran the wire from the switch to
the first light, and then to the second light, adding the lights in parallel
circuit. At the switch, I spliced the return wires and put the hots on the
switch. The problem was that when the switch was turned on, all 4 lights
came on, but they appeared to be on a rheostat that was turned way down. I
tried reversing the set up, in other words, splicing the hots and putting
the returns on the switch. I changed the switch but to no avail. Anyone
have any ideas?
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Sounds like you have somehow wired some of em in series, reason their dim is
because voltage is divided between them.
Unscrew one or two of them, if the brightness of the others changes, you do
need to re-wire, making sure they are all in a parallel circuit.
Unscrew one light. What happens. Which other lights get brighter or
dimmer or stay the same. There are several things you could have done
BTW you did not make it clear if all the lights are now dim or just the
two new ones or the two old ones?
If they are truly wired in series, when you unscrew one bulb, the ones that
are wired in series will go out, not get brighter. By unscrewing a bulb in
series you are breaking the circuit.
no path for the electrons to flow
To the OP:
are all 4 bulbs dim? If so they are all in series, you need to rewire them
If only the 2 new ones are you need to rewire them correctly as they are in
How they should be wired. If the feed from the breaker runs into one of the
lights function boxes, you take the feed from the breaker wire nut that to
the black thats running to the switch the white from th switch then feeds
the chain of lights. It's good practice to but some black electrical tape on
the white feed to the lights letting people know that it's the hot from the
switch and not a neutral.
|b |b |b |b
@ @ @ @
|w |w |w |w
you have them wired in series(and when in series the light bulbs act as
a rheostat to cut down the voltage and that is why they are dim)..
check he wiring again and see if you can then attach them parallel...
that way both lights can get the full voltage. and be brighter...
It looks like you may have a series/parallel combo. If all lights are dim,
then they're all in series. If you take one bulb out, they'll all go out.
But if only some bulbs are dim, some of the bulbs might be in parallel and
some in series. You also say that you switched the hot and returns (called
the neutral) at the switch. NEVER switch the neutral! (Put the switch in
the return) You are creating a very hazardous situation.
1) If the neutral is switched, the sockets are always live. By taking
away the return path, you are asking for problems. Especially in a bathroom
where steam from the shower can condense onto the light fixture making a
conducting path to ground (or the unfortunate person that is touching the
2) The ring of the light-bulb will always be live. When you go to change
the light-bulb, you can inadvertantly touch the ring and get a zap.
3) This is a severe violation of the NEC.
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