Moving an outdoor light from one switch to another

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  #1  
Old 11-15-05, 02:33 PM
bmoorhouse
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Moving an outdoor light from one switch to another

The below initial description of my problem is confusing. Skip to POST #3 for a better one. THANKS!

I have two sets of outdoor lights controlled by two switches. One switch is in the garage and the other switch is inside the front door of the house. Coincidentally, these boxes that house these switches and the wiring are almost exactly back to back as they are in the same wall, just on different sides.

A few months ago, I replaced the switch in the garage with an automatic timer that turns the lights on and off at sunset. I would like to now remove the switch from the other set of lights and wire them into the same switch as the others with the timer.

Since the boxes are so close, it seems that this should be easy to do. My problem is I do not know how to wire it safely.

Here's my guess:

1. Jumper the red wire out of the timer through the wall and connect it to the red wire that used to be attached to the toggle switch (the one I am removing).
2. Jumper the black wire that use to return to the toggle switch I am removing through the wall and connect it to the red wire that used to attached to the timer.
3. Leave the black cable that is connected to the timer where it is.

This would look like this:

(TIMER'S RED WIRE) (JUMPER THROUGH WALL) (RED WIRE that use to be connected to the toggle) (Lights #1) (BLACK WIRE that use to connect to toggle) (JUMPER BACK THROUGH WALL) (RED WIRE that use to connect to timer) (Lights #2) (BLACK WIRE that is connected to timer) (TIMER'S BLACK WIRE)

In other words, I think I would be putting the two sets of lights in series, sticking the one set between the Timer and the set the timer controlls now.

Is this right? Will it work safely?

Thanks!
 

Last edited by bmoorhouse; 11-15-05 at 06:57 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-15-05, 03:27 PM
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I don't follow what you are proposing at all.

Tell us what wires are in each switch box. Tell us all the wires, what cable they are from and how they are connected, Tell us if these lights are on the same circuit. Finally, tell us if these switches are in the same stud cavity of the wall.
 
  #3  
Old 11-15-05, 06:04 PM
bmoorhouse
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Sorry, I think the problem is that I don't really know how to describe it myself, but I will give it another shot.

In one electrical box, there is a automatic timer which replaced a regular switch a few months back. This timer automatically turns on and off two outside lights. I assume they are on the same circuit as they are on the same switch.

The timer has three wires that are attached as part of the assembly, blue, red and black. The blue wire is connected to a white house wire that comes through the back of the electrical box and the black wire is connected to another black wire (a house wire) that also comes out of back of the electrical box. The two pairs of wires are connected using standard twist on caps. When I installed the timer, there was no way to gound it, so the ground wire from the back of this box is loose. Also, the instructions that came with the time indicated that the red wire was not used for single-pole operations and directed that it simply be capped.

On the other side of the same wall there is a switch that controls a single outside light. This switch has a black wire and a white wire that are inserted into the back of the switch. These wires come through the back of the electrical box as house wiring. There is also a ground that is connected to the green screw on the switch.

Both boxes are between the same two studs in the wall, so any new wiring will not have to go through any wood.

I would like to pull both wire out of the back of the switch and connect them to the timer in the other electrical box. The switch inside then would thus do nothing (I'd probably remove it and cover the empty hole) and the timer would automatically control all three lights.

Here is my best attempt at a diagram of the current set up and what I think might work. All connections are using the standard twist conectors. This is a image in a Word document. When I figure out how to make it into a PDF, I will post that instead.
 

Last edited by bmoorhouse; 11-15-05 at 06:57 PM.
  #4  
Old 11-15-05, 07:15 PM
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You didn't answer my questions.

Are both sets of lights on the same circuit breaker?

You also did not tell me ALL the wires in both boxes. However, you did indicate that at least one of the switches is a switch loop. This complicates the picture quite a bit. I am inclined to say that you cannot do what you want.

However, I will be able to tell you for sure if you provide the information I have asked for.
 
  #5  
Old 11-15-05, 07:45 PM
bmoorhouse
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Both sets of lights are on the same circuit breaker . . . I just checked that throwing the breaker turned off all three lights.

As for the wires, I am pretty sure that I have told you all of them. The wires I mentioned are twisted around and smashed to the back of the boxes, so it is cluttered and messy, but I don't see any other wires in there. Is there something else I should be looking for?

Thanks for your help with this.
 
  #6  
Old 11-15-05, 07:58 PM
bmoorhouse
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Okay . . . In the one inside, there is another white wire that is connected to another additional white wire with a standard twist connector. This wire set is not attached to the switch at all though, but rather just comes in the box, gets connected, and then goes back out. I assume this is the neutral and is probably what you were looking for.

I have already put everything back together, but have been thinking about this a lot since then. I think I may have a black wire labeled white in my diagram and my description in the earlier post. I will pull the face plate off again and check tomorrow.

In other words, I don't think I have any switch loops, but will confirm tomorrow. In the meantime, thanks again!
 

Last edited by bmoorhouse; 11-15-05 at 09:08 PM. Reason: I think I have a wire labeled wrong . . .
  #7  
Old 11-16-05, 05:00 AM
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Are you telling me that you only have black wires attached to switches, and that there are two white wires attached together in each box? There are no other wires in the boxes at all?

If this is the case then you should be able to do what you want. However, you will have to determine where the wires come from.
 
  #8  
Old 11-16-05, 07:43 PM
bmoorhouse
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Originally Posted by racraft
Are you telling me that you only have black wires attached to switches, and that there are two white wires attached together in each box? There are no other wires in the boxes at all?

If this is the case then you should be able to do what you want. However, you will have to determine where the wires come from.

Yes that's correct. The wires attached to the switches are all black. There are white wire connected to each other in the box, but they are not attached to the switches.

I was hoping I could just remove the black wires from the toggle switch and splice them to the black wires going to the timer. Would that not work?

If I have to figure out where the wires go, I may not be able to do this without cutting into the wall, which I really don't want to do. Rather than do that, I would just simply by another timer, as ugly as they are.
 
  #9  
Old 11-17-05, 04:07 AM
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No, you cannot simply move the wires from one switch to the other. That would create a current imbalance in the black wires feeding the switches.

But here is what you can do.

Disconnect the black power wire from the switch you want to remove and cap it. Disconnect the white wire from the same cable as that black wire and cap it. Disconnect the black (switched power) wire from that same switch and connect it to the switched side of the other switch. Take the corresponding white neutral wire and connect it to the neutral wires behind the remaining switch.

You then need to place a blank cover over the box containing the switch you remove.
 
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