wiring newbie needs a hand

Reply

  #1  
Old 03-08-05, 10:41 PM
DRC
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Question wiring newbie needs a hand

I need help with how to wire a pair of wall switches. I don't understand enough about wiring basics to figure this out on my own and the basic guide I have doesn't cover this situation.

Presently, there is one duplex single pole wall switch which operates 2 ceiling light fixtures. I wish to operate one of the lights on a dimmer (Lutron Skylark slide dimmer S-600PH), leaving the other on its own single pole switch. My plan is to install the 2 switches side-by-side in a larger box but I don't know how to do the wiring. There are presently 3 wires to the existing switch, 2 hot, 1 neutral.

I'm sure it's a simple matter and I could use a simple explanation.

Thanks.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 03-09-05, 04:19 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
You may not be able to do this without running new wires.

If you tell us what wires are in the switch box, and at each light we can help.

Be specific. Tell us how many cables, what wires are in those cables, and how those wires are connected. Tell us about all the wires, including those that don;t connect to the switches or the lights.
 
  #3  
Old 03-09-05, 05:57 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 510
Look carefully at the currently installed duplex switch. You say there are three wires attached. (If there is a white wire attached it is NOT a neutral, there should never be a neutral attached to a switch.) Most likely on one side of the switch you will see two screws with a metal tab connecting them, one of these screws will have a wire attached. This is your incoming hot wire. On the other side of the switch you will see two screws isolated from each other, each with one wire attached. These are the two switched hots to the fictures. Post back if you see anything different.

Note any other wires in the box and how they are connected, you will need to unhook everything when you swap the box for a larger one.

Once you have swapped the box, restore any other connections other than the three wires going to the switch exactly like they are now.

The dimmer likely has two black wires coming out of it. Take one of the black wires along with a short piece of wire (the same gauge and color as the incoming hot wire) and connect to the incoming hot with a wire nut. Connect the other end of this short piece of wire (pigtail) to the new switch.

Connect the other lead from the dimmer to the appropriate switched hot (going to the ficture that you want dimmed) with a wirenut. Connect the other switched hot to the unused terminal of the new switch. Connect the bare grounds together and to the appropriate terminals on the switch and dimmer.
 
  #4  
Old 03-09-05, 09:16 AM
DRC
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
about the wires

"You may not be able to do this without running new wires.
If you tell us what wires are in the switch box, and at each light we can help. Be specific. Tell us how many cables, what wires are in those cables, and how those wires are connected. Tell us about all the wires, including those that don;t connect to the switches or the lights."

-- I'm hoping not to have to open up the wall beyond enlarging the opening for the new box. There are ONLY 3 wires in the box - no visible cables - and these seem to go only to the 2 light fixtures. The wires are connected, a black wire to a screw on the left of the switch, and a red and a black wire to the 2 screws on the right of the switch. And that's all there is - not even any ground wires.
 
  #5  
Old 03-09-05, 09:52 AM
DRC
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I'll try it

"Look carefully at the currently installed duplex switch. You say there are three wires attached. (If there is a white wire attached it is NOT a neutral, there should never be a neutral attached to a switch.) Most likely on one side of the switch you will see two screws with a metal tab connecting them, one of these screws will have a wire attached. This is your incoming hot wire. On the other side of the switch you will see two screws isolated from each other, each with one wire attached. These are the two switched hots to the fictures. [I]Post back if you see anything different.

Note any other wires in the box and how they are connected, you will need to unhook everything when you swap the box for a larger one.

Once you have swapped the box, restore any other connections other than the three wires going to the switch exactly like they are now.

The dimmer likely has two black wires coming out of it. Take one of the black wires along with a short piece of wire (the same gauge and color as the incoming hot wire) and connect to the incoming hot with a wire nut. Connect the other end of this short piece of wire (pigtail) to the new switch.

Connect the other lead from the dimmer to the appropriate switched hot (going to the ficture that you want dimmed) with a wirenut. Connect the other switched hot to the unused terminal of the new switch. Connect the bare grounds together and to the appropriate terminals on the switch and dimmer."

-- You are right. The single wire on the left of the switch is black. The two wires on the right are a red and a black one, on to each fixture. I think your instructions will work - when I can get to it this weekend. I'll reply back when I've had a go at it. Thanks.
 
  #6  
Old 03-09-05, 10:02 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You can always do this without running new wires, no matter how it is or might have been wired now. Simply attach the black on the left side of the old switch to both of your new switches (one wire on the dimmer, one screw on the regular switch) using a pigtail. Then attach the other two wires, one to each switch.
 
  #7  
Old 03-09-05, 10:06 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
John, my concern with possibly needing new wires was if someone had played the game of using a ground wire as a current carrying conductor.

Whenever I hear about a duplex switch being used and it controlling two different loads, I worry that the person who installed the duplex switch might have taken a dangerous shortcut.
 
  #8  
Old 03-09-05, 10:09 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Good points Bob.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'