Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet, but this doesn't seem do-able.
Wire: 3 conductor (black, white, red) plus ground.
Run wire from source (junction box), to light fixture #1, then to light
fixture #2, and finally to two wall switches in a box at the end of the run.
The question: Is it possible to control each light fixture with its own
switch, using only these wires? Because of the physical situation in this
particular area, running another bundle would be a major pain in the ass.
Neat puzzle to consider... I think it's doable in this way:
Black is power, runs through both fixtures to the switches and energizes
White (with some black tape) is switched hot to fixture #2, nearest to
Red is switched hot thru (bypassing) fixture #2 to fixture #1.
White after fixture #2 becomes neutral for both fixtures.
Red from the junction box to fixture #1 is unused.
I can't see any NEC violations with this scenario, but would be
interested to know of them.
Yes it is possible if you described the layout accurately but you cannot
have switches at both the source and the far end of the circuit without
At the light fixture closest to the switches:
Connect the black wire from the source to the white wire of the cable
that goes to the switches. Mark that white wire with tape or magic
marker at both ends some color other than white, gray, or green.
Connect the two red wires at that box to each other.
Connect the white from the source to the white wire or silver screw of
the light fixture.
Connect the black wire from the switch box to the black wire or brass
terminal of the light fixture.
At the light fixture that is furthest from the switch box and closest to
Connect the white wires in the cables to each other and a white pigtail
or short wire that you will then use to connect to the white wire or
silver screw of that light fixture. You should be able to remove the
fixture without disturbing the splice between the two white wires in the
Connect the two black wires from the two cables to each other.
Connect the red wire from the other fixture box to the black wire or
brass terminal of the light fixture.
Cap off the red wire from the source if present
At the source:
Connect the white wire to the white wire or neutral bar of the source.
Connect the black wire to the black wire or terminal of the source.
Cap off the red wire if present.
At the switch box connect the remarked white wire from the closer
fixture box to one terminal of each of the two single pole switches. If
you are reusing a three way switch then connect the remarked wire to the
dark or common terminal of the switch.
Connect the red wire to the switch that will control the light that is
closet to the source and furthest from the switch box.
Connect the black wire from the cable to the switch that will control
the light fixture that is closest to the switch box and furthest from
I didn't mention the Equipment Grounding Conductors (EGCs) at each
location because they are all connected to each other, any metallic box
through which they pass, the grounding conductor or terminal of each
light fixture, and the grounding terminal of any switch that is mounted
in a nonconductive box. As with the circuit neutral wires it should be
possible to remove a fixture or a device such as a switch without
breaking any splices between the EGCs in the cables. The EGCs should be
made up first and dressed back into the box behind all of the other
splices. The Neutrals should be made up next and dressed back into the
box with only the EGC splices behind them. The ungrounded conductors
are made up last so that their splices are the most accessible with the
through splices made up first and the terminations to fixtures made up
If you need switches at both ends of the circuit you will have to use
wireless three way switches at the source end. If any of this is
unclear please ask additional questions.
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
Switches are at one end only. When I mentioned the junction box at the
beginning, it meant nothing but a junction box with unused, tied off wires
going directly to an unused circuit (with breaker) in the breaker panel.
From my understanding no it will not work.
At the switch box you need 2 switch legs, a hot and ground. That is 4
wires. Ok you say I do not need the ground at the switch, fine see below.
At the second light you have 4 wires but no neutral.
At the first light you have the same 4 wires and no neutral.
Residential wiring/electric code does allow you to use the white as a
"ungrounded conductor" or hot wire.
There is nothing in the code that allows you to use an insulated conductor
as a "grounded conductor", the neutral.
You can use the white wire as a hot as long as you mark it,
(usually with three bands of black permanant marker at
The schematic at www.goedjn.com/sketch/farswitch.gif
will work, and is, as far as I know, legal.
Much better! Thanks very much. Between this, and Tom Horne's explanation, it
looks like I'm all set.
Anyone know if it's within code to allow wet, moldy fiberglass insulation to
collapse on top of about 30 wires along the plate of a house? These wires
run along the plate of my friend's house. In addition to the insulation mess
(wet because of a leak that I already fixed), the huge bundle of wires is
exactly that: a bundle. Not stapled - just sort of stuffed up there for a
distance of about 8 feet, and then it suddenly gets all nice & straight.
What's really scary is that the previous owner didn't add anything - this is
all the original work. It looks like the electrician took the bundle and
sort of threw it in place.
My house has some problems, but wiring isn't one of them. When I bought the
house, the inspectors got to the breaker box, they said "Holy shit....this
had to be Bob so-and-so. He was like...anal retentive about straight lines.
Lookit this....you can figure out everything, even in the dark! No...maybe
it was what's his name, from Webster...you know who I mean, right?" :-) I
love it! Famous artists with wires.
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