I decided to exchange my plug-in type under cabinet fluorescent with
hardwired one. The previous owners must have had a hardwired fixtur
there because there are spliced wires in the cabinet and a hole fo
them in the bottom of the cabinet. However, there is no switc
anywhere close. There is only one switch in the small kitchen and i
is across the room and runs the overhead (incandescent) light.
can’t figure where the wires are going to or which end is the on
coming from the breaker box. I am really confused on how to wir
this. I want the under cabinet light and the ceiling light to operat
independently of each other. I figured the previous owners had thei
light always on or it turned off and on with the ceiling light. Als
there are two types of wire cable spliced together; a 12/2 and 14/
both with grounds. Is this OK? The 14/2 is encased in black plasti
and the 12/2 in white. I don’t know if that means anything
There are several wires in the tops of the cabinets running here an
there. This part of the kitchen was once part of a bedroom. Sinc
it’s a 1969 mobile home, I’m assuming the wiring was upgraded, bu
the wire mess makes it look like amateur work. There are actually tw
open splices in the cabinets and the wires snake in and out of th
wall and ceiling several times
I have found some good information on basic wiring, so if someone ca
help figure out which end is the power source and how to add
separate switch, I think I should be set. One other thing; I read i
one place that fluorescents should have a special type of switch, bu
I didn’t run across that anywhere else.
They might also have used a light with a switch on it (usually a rocker
type switch) and reached uner the lamp to turn it on and off.
If you don't know which breaker controls that circuit then turn off the
main breaker, uncover the splices in the black and white wires and
connect a test lamp* to them. Then turn on the main breaker and see if
the test lamp lights. If it does, start flipping breakers off and on
until you can find and label the one protecting that circuit. When you
find it, it better be a 15 amp one, if it's a 20 amp one that's too much
for 14 gage wire and that breaker should be replaced a 15 amp one asap.
With the lamp lit, try flipping wall switches to see if there's one
which makes it go off and on. If not, then you can be 99% sure that it's
a continuously powered circuit, and you could install a hardwired
flourescent with a self contained switch powered from that circuit. If
the fixture isn't all plastic, it probably will have a ground lead on it
and of course you should you should connect the ground to it.
I'm no code expert but I'd expect you'd need some sort of junction box
inside the cabinet to do the job right, and I'm not too comfortable with
the idea of exposed wiring inside a cabinet people are moving things in
and out of. You'd better make sure it's all guarded against mechanical
If the test lamp doesn't light when you turn the main breaker back on,
then start flipping wall switches to see if you can get it to light. If
it still doesn't light, you need more help than I can give you on a
You probably read something about dimmer switches and flourescents, that
doesn't sound like it applies here. Any "standard" off-on switch with
adequate voltage and current ratings will turn a flourescent on and off.
* I say test lamp there and not "meter", because if you happen to use a
digital voltmeter and don't put a load across its input you can
sometimes be mislead by "phantom" voltages with no ampacity behind them
which will make the meter read higher than zero when there's "almost
find an electrician to eliminate any of the mentioned hazards to your
health. it's time to put a modern GFI outlet and extra switch or two in
your kitchen. you can buy an inexpensive digital multimeter to identify
your circuit and insulated alligator jumpers to temporarily connect a
radio or lamp for testing.
I rarely tell people to call a professional anf encourage DIY. But
after reading your message, I really think you should get an
However, if you decide to do this yourself, beware, you are likely
dealing with aluminum wiring, probably the black cable. Trailer houses
in the late 60's early 70's were notorious for AL wiring. This stuff
is dangerous if not connected properly. Yet another reason to get a
Look at the ground wires (bare ones). Is either of them silver
colored? If yes, you got AL wire, and should call an electrician !!!
On Tue, 15 Nov 2005 22:05:47 GMT, email@example.com (genalsh) wrote:
Thanks to all who have answered so far. I will get a test lamp and go
from there. I held off on that because I knew there were all
different sorts of testers, meters, etc. I did have a couple of
people tell me the wiring was copper right after I moved in. They
looked because I bought this place right after I was burned out of an
old cottage with ancient wiring. I guess they only looked at the
breaker box, though. Too bad those peple aren't still around to help
me now. I didn't see any sliver in the 2 splices I can see right now.
I'll add some junction boxes and get that out of the way too and think
about more upgrades later. Better yet, maybe I should find an
electrician to date! :)
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