Electrical Question and request for circuit diagram


Hello gang,
Just discovered this group and the material here is awesome.
I have plenty of DIY experience and used to do home repair work, I did some work with an electrician but certainly do not think I am an expert.
My question involves adding recessed ceiling lights in my bedroom.
IMPORTANT FACT - I do have attic access. I will be able to run or change Romex as needed.
Currently, I have 2 switches on the wall next to my bedroom door. Switch A is for the bathroom and has 2 control buttons - one for the fan and one for the light. Switch B is on the same power source but only controls an overhead ceiling fan with light fixtures (which are controlled by 2 small pull chains). I want to keep all of these things as they are.
I want to add about 5 lights in two separate groups that can be shut off/turned on and dimmed by group. Group 1 would consist of 2 over the bed and 1 over the dresser. Group 2 would be 2 lights over my home office/desk area. All of this is in my bedroom.
I imagine in my mind a dimmer switch controlling my DESK area lights leaving the other lights off to stop energy waste. Of course in vice versa, I want to read in bed so I would want those lights on and the DESK area off.
I know I will have to cut open the switch area on the wall, make it bigger, then mud, tape and paint it. No problem there! I just cannot see the wiring layout in my mind, don't know which switches would be the correct choice and not sure if it is even possible from one power source. I am sure I will have to run 2 lines of 14/3 in the attic and drop it down to the wall switch power source.
If you can help me, please be detailed and clear. Do not assume I will know the trade slang and if possible, please e-mail me a diagram drawn on the PC in MS Paint, etc. if you can.
Thanks in advance and know that I really appreciate any help.
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wrote:

STill it might be easier or look better, not sure, to cut another hole above or below the current one.

I used to have MS Paint but can't find it. Isn't it supposed to be in Win98SE?

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GOOD POINT! I will consider that.

it under START then PROGRAMS then ACCESSORIES. It should be listed as PAINT...not MS PAINT. lol If you have another program, you can use it. I am running Windows XP Pro. So as long as your output is to .JGP, .BMP, .PNG or something current, I should be able to view it.
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Open up the existing switches and confirm that you have a hot and neutral there. Then undo all of the connections and MARK them so you will be able to put them back the way they were. You didn't say what the existing wiring consisted of or how old the house is. If the existing switch box is plastic you may be able to pry it off the stud without damaging the wall. If it is metal it may not be so easy, but give it a shot anyway. Once you get the old box out cut a hole for a new four gang box or cut the opening for the four gang box first, then remove the existing box. You will have more room to work that way..
Next lay out your fixtures, mark the centers and confirm that there are no obstacles for their installation by pushing a thin screwdriver through the center in several different directions. A short piece of fish tape or a coat hangar wire would be useful for this also. If you encounter any obstacles such as a joist, pipe, or duct you will need to tweak your layout. Draw the circle using the template and cut the holes for the fixtures. Go up in the attic with a drill and a fish tape and drill a hole or two down to your switch location. Push the fish tape down the wall to the switch location. Then go drill some holes in the joists between lights. Now go back down and attach two 14/2 cables to the fish tape or have a helper do this. Pull them up to the attic and run each one to the first light on each row being sure to pull them through the joists. You will also need to staple them along the joists.
Now go back down and cut the cable at the switch location. Take your roll of cable and push the end up into one of the holes cut out for the lights. Go back in the attic and run the wire from light to light through the joists leaving enough slack at each location to wire up the lights from below. Go back down and wire up the lights and install them.
Go the switch box location and bring the old and new wires into the four gang box. The whites for the new lights go to the existing neutral. The blacks will be the switch leg. You will need to make some pigtails off of the existing hot wire to feed the new single pole switches or dimmers.
If you wanted to control these lights from multiple locations you would need to run one 14/3 cable for each switch to another switch location. The red and white would be the travelers. The black at the remote location would go on the black screw of the 3-way switch. The black of the 14/3 at the four gang box would get connected to the hot wire and the black from the 14/2 switch leg would go to the black screw on the 3-way switch or dimmer.
There are a lot of wiring diagrams on various web sites already. I don't know exactly where they are, but perhaps another person will post those links.
I hope this helps.
John Grabowski http://www.mrelectrician.tv
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The 2 bedroom condo is 16 years old. All wiring is copper, current/up to date and the boxes are plastic.

Do I really need to drill through the joists? I have attic access and the attic is not finished. Would it be ok/smart to just allow the cables to lay loose across the joists or maybe stapled over the tops of the joists? If this project goes well, I will be installing these same lights in my kitchen. No access at all. If I should or have to drill through the joists for the bedroom or kitchen, where on the joist should I drill? I assume in the middle and no more than a 1 1/4" hole?

Can I pigtail all four (I think my count is correct) of the black wires to/from the one black/hot wire with one wire nut or is there a better best practice I should use?

I was not going to do this. The distance is not far but I was thinking of finding a remote to control/dim the lights with.

If anyone can find these it would be great. I have not found diagrams that went beyond a switch and an outlet.

You were amazingly clear John with such a complicated question! Well done sir! Also, if anyone else is reading this just know that I am calling my township today to see if I need a permit, etc for this. My condo association has no rules for the inside unless it is a structural alteration issue like removing, changing walls, closets, etc. MAKE IT LEGAL and INSURABLE my friends!!!! I have been a licensed and full time REALTOR real estate agent in southern NJ for years now and I cannot begin to tell you the complicated and EXPENSIVE legal problems that arise from DIYers that don't get permits!!!
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Good. Plastic boxes are usually easier to remove without having to damage the walls. This will avoid a patch job later.

For an accessible attic space the wire must be protected. Sometimes people put cartons for storage on top of the joists. Sometimes they lay sheets of plywood down. I have found attics that way with plywood sitting on top of wires. The alternative to drilling the joists is to install running boards such as a 2" x 4" across the joists and staple the cables to the side of them.

As close to the middle as possible, but you really only need to keep the cable a minimum of 1 1/4" from the face of the joist.

You can do four pigtails from the one. Just use a proper size wire connector approved for five #14's.

I don't have any suggestions for a remote unless you went with an X-10 type system. I think there are remote controls for use with certain modules. The wiring shouldn't be too much different. Instead of a switch you install a module. It may however require a neutral conductor. Look up smart homes.

Thank you and you're welcome.

Excellent advice. I have seen that situation arise several times. The best ones are from work that was done two or three owners ago.
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I forgot to mention that you should check to make sure that you have room for a four gang box before taking anything apart. Remove the switch plate and with a thin screwdriver push along side the existing box. One side will be solid wood. The other side should be hollow. Take a fish tape or coat hangar wire and probe into the hollow side to see how wide the cavity is. If it is not wide enough for a four gang box, then you might want to consider the two gang box above or below option.

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