Need help wiring switch loop


  #1  
Old 11-22-04, 09:59 AM
J
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Need help wiring switch loop

I have a bit of a challenge and would like some help.

I am in the process of converting the lighting in a basement from two simple (two wire) light fixtures to recessed lighting. The switch for the lights is at the end of the run. I want to put 5 light fixures in the basement, all controlled from that switch. Currently, it is a standard two wire light switch, but I would like to put a dimmer in eventually. Here is the challenge.

I have the supply wire coming into the basement. It appears to come in from outside, and I believe it is the same wire that controls the outside light. The supply line is always hot, direct form the breaker box. I need help wiring this to the switch in the basement. A diagram would be great, if possible.

The supply wire is a standard three wire cable (white, black, ground). The switch has standard three wire cable (white, black and ground) and each light fixture is standard three wire (white, black and ground). I know to run the supply wire to the first light fixture, and then to the switch, but am confused on how to connect the wires in the first light/junction box to connect the rest of the lights, so they are all controlled from that switch.

And, if I put a dummer switch in, in the future, what do I need to watch out for.

note, the basement was pre-wired, so I don't have much control over running new wires nad had no control over how it was previously wired.

Thanks
 
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Old 11-22-04, 10:12 AM
J
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To wire a switch loop at the first light:
  • Connect power cable black to switch cable white.
  • Connect power cable white to fixture white (and to the white of the cable to the other lights).
  • Connect switch cable black to the fixture black (and to the black of the cable to the other lights).
When you put in the dimmer, just be sure that the total wattage of the lights is less than the wattage rating of the dimmer, and I would discourage you from putting more than one dimmer in one box.
 
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Old 11-22-04, 10:19 AM
J
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Switch loop

John:

Thanks. This is the first time I have run into converting one light to multiple lights with an end of run switch. I'll let you know how it turns out.

John W
 
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Old 11-23-04, 07:00 AM
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The switch loop worked, but now another problem

Ok...not sure there is an easy answer to this one.

The switch loop wiring worked fine.

The power that comes into the basement is the same line that provides power to the front (outside) light. All lights work fine in the basement, but the front light stays on, no matter the position of the switch that should control it (the one by the front door).

I assume it comes to the switch by the front door first and then into the basement. All I could do so far was test the power to the switch. When the switch is in the off position, using an electrical tester, I tested positive to neutral (no way to access the ground w/o taking the switches out of the box...plastic box) and had power. With the switch turned on, testing positive to neutral, no power. What does this indicate (is this normal)? Is it possible the switch is bad? The switch is standard two wire plus ground (shouldn't this be a three way switch if the power continues to the basement?)

Can't see all the wires in the box without taking everything apart. Haven't got that far yet. Oh, and a note...this is a house that is being rehabbed, so I have no prior history with the house, or how it was wired.

Is it time to hire an electrician

John
 
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Old 11-23-04, 09:34 AM
J
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I tested positive to neutral
This is not a meaningful sentence. Exactly which two wires or screws did you test between? Are you talking about the two wires connected to the switch (in which case neither is a neutral, even if it is white)? If not, how many wires are there in the switch box and which two wires did you test between, and what test instrument did you use?

If you test between the two switch screws, then no switch in the world will register voltage when turned on, because the switch's job in life is to create a dead short between those two screws.

The switch is standard two wire plus ground (shouldn't this be a three way switch if the power continues to the basement?)
No. A 3-way switch is used to control one light (or set of lights) from two switch locations.

How did power for your basement lights get to the basement? Did you do that? Did you tap power from this porch switch box? If so, you probably are attempting the impossible.
 
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Old 11-23-04, 10:02 AM
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Basement lights and outside light

John:

I don't know how power got to the basement. It was there when I bought the house. It runs from the basement behing insulation and up into a wall. No idea where it goes from there, other than the circuit breaker in the garage controlls it and the front light. This is a house I am currently rehabbing, and a lot of damavge was done by the previous owner, including destryoung a lot of the switches and outlets in the house. I am going room-to-room and fixing each one, but without knowing how all this was originally wired, it is a bit challenging.

I don't know if the front light ever worked properly. As far as I know, every time we turned the circuit on in the garage (at the breaker box), the front light came on. I just assumed the switch was in the "on" position. I only found out yesterday that it doesn't make a difference what position that switch is in.

I tested white to black on the switch.

There are two switches (in the box) by the front door. I assume one controls the outside light in the front yard. I can't test the other light, because it needs to be replaced (the whole fixture). I assumed the second switch at the front door would control the living room light, but it doesn't. Not sure what it is for at this point. I guess the front light on the porch (which needs replacement).

Using a multimeter, how can I test what powers what, if power is always going to the front light (problem is I can't even narrow it down to the switch that is supposed to control it, because all I can do is go based on assumptions at this point.)?

As near as I can tell, there are several black wires "wire-nutted" together in the switch box. One black runs to each switch and (I assume) one wight runs to each switch. I can't see the total number of white wires. I'll have to check tonight. I also don't see any other color wires, except for the ground wires.

At this point, neither of those switches seem to control anything (my original assumption was that one switch would control both outside lights and the second switch would control the living room light, which is also controlled from a switch across the room on the opposite wall). I am curious if this could have something to do with the end of run switch in the basement. I may just disconnect everything in the basement to test the front switch.

John
 
  #7  
Old 11-23-04, 12:24 PM
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Outside light problem

Ok. You know how the solution can sometimes be the really simple solution?

Well I went out to look at the house in the daylight (I am usually there at night). Guess what. The outside light has a photosensor on it, so it goes on automatically at night. Hmmm....guess that is why it was always on at night.

This still doesn't explain why the inside switch doesn't seem to control anything, but it does move me one step closer to figuring out this whole mess.

John
 
 

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