changing a series of lights from plug in to a switch


Old 09-05-00, 03:08 PM
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I have two light fixtures that I would like to have hard wired with a switch. Right now there is an outlet box, where I ahve to plug the lights in to turn them on. The light fixtures are recessed in a built in wall cabinet. I want to replace the outlet with a switch, but the lights only have a pos and negative, while the box has pos, neg, and a neutral wire. running into it.
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Old 09-05-00, 05:12 PM
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hello tinkering,
there is an alternitive to replaceing the plug with a switch, and a much simpler fix at that. what i would do is install an inline switch on the hot side of the cord, this would accomplish the same thing with less work. all u need to do is go to your hardware store and buy an inline switch and install it on the hot side of the cord, im assuming that your cord is lamp cord (flat 2 wire cord) the hot will be the unidentified wire, the 1 with no markings (ridges, stripe, ect). just follow the directions that come with the switch. if this is not an option then let me know and ill help u out with the replacement.
Old 09-06-00, 11:02 AM
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Interesting problem. I faced the same dilemna and would love the idea of hardwiring a switch but I did not feel comfortable cutting a hole in my wall. I found a simple solution in a wireless remote for the plug in (no, not the clapper). The website I attach below is a starter kit of X-10 components that you pay $6 US for. The deal is pretty good. I bought this kit a year ago and have not had problems. I have, however, continued to buy more little modules from the site over time and now have many lights that used to annoy me coming on via the remote.
No, I don't work for X-10, I'm just a lazy guy in Canada.
Good luck and let me know if you go this route.
Old 09-07-00, 12:43 PM
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Personally, I'm an old fashioned guy and I'd go with hard wiring a real switch. I assume the outlet is on the wall between the cupboard where your light is and the countertop, oui? If you can, take the cupboard off, punch the hole behind it and run a piece of Romex wire inside the wall. (that flat, white-jacketed house wire with insulated black and white conductors and a bare ground inside.) I would pull the outled out, shove the Romex out one of the punchouts in the outlet box and guide it up the inside of the wall, fishing it out the new hole you made and over to the light fixture.

Here's where the wiring gets interesting. And it's not difficult. First, a correction on your terminology. Black is "hot", white is called either "neutral" or "common", and bare is ground. Hot and common for simplicity's sake can be likened to positive and negative, but those terms are technically used in DC, not in AC.

Anyway, you can have your outlet and a switch both. You can buy a combination device that has both in a "single gang" and fits in the same box & wallplate. If you use one of these, first cut yourself a 6" piece of white wire. Strip the ends and wire nut one end of that plus the new Romex white wire that goes up to the light fixture securely to the white wire you took off the old outlet (your supply-side neutral). This is called a "pigtail", and it's the only correct way. Wire the other end of the 6" white wire to the silver colored screw on the new outlet/switch combo and the black to the lower brass colored screw. This is your neutral supply to the outlet. Then the brass screw above gets the new Romex's black wire up to the light fixture. Place one end of the ground wire on the outlet and attach the other end of ground directly to the light fixture housing. Many have a green screw inside for that purpose. If not attach it wherever you can on the housing using either a machine screw and nut or a self-tapping screw, but not a sheet metal screw. Sand off the paint to bare metal before attaching the ground wire. The basic principal here is that neutral is always wired directly to a light fixture and not through a switch, and just the hot wire is switched on & off. The ground wire just keeps you from getting zapped while your playing with water. Hope this helps.

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