One Switch, Several Lights

Here we discuss a situation where the power feed goes to one of the light fixtures and the switch cable goes to a different fixture. You must use three conductor cable to get from the box with the power feed to the box with the switch. Other lights in the circuit can be wired with two conductor cable.

In the diagram, the red line shows where three conductor cable is needed. Blue dots show were connections are most likely made, using wire nuts. If a fixture has screw terminals instead of wire ends coming out, and only one wire needs to be attached, then a short length of wire (pigtail) and a wire nut are not needed.

All connections must be inside outlet boxes or junction boxes with accessible covers, not "loose" inside the wall or ceiling. The fixture itself or the cap (canopy) at the top of a chandelier chain can serve as a box cover.

1.  Connect all ground wires (bare and/or green) together.

2.  Excluding the power feed hot conductor, connect all black wires together as the switch controlled hot portion of the setup.

3.  Excluding the white wire going down to the switch, connect all white wires together for the neutral portion of the setup.

3a.  If you have a 3 wire cable going down to the switch to provide hot and neutral in the switch box or continuing beyond, connect all white wires together including the white wire going to the switch box. Do not connect the white wire to the switch.

4.  Connect the remaining wires together to form the unswitched hot (or raw power feed) portion of the setup.

Last updated 7/19/11

Home handyman hints.

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