3 Switches, 3 lights...so many wires....

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  #1  
Old 05-07-07, 10:28 AM
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3 Switches, 3 lights...so many wires....

I hung 3 exterior lights (40 watt incandescent) on my 2-car garage that is shared with my neighbor. To keep the wiring simple, I plan on having each light (left, center,right) switched with a single pole switch housed in a triple-gang switch box that is accessible from both her side of the garage and mine. Single feeder to the switches. No 3-ways.

I have been using the "Ultimate Guide to Wiring" published by Creative Homeowner as a guide for my other work (service panel and outlets).

It has a depiction for "double-ganged switches to end-of-run light fixtures" that I am using as a basis.

Here's my Q..
How many wires are safe to pigtail at a single point. Three switches and 3 fixtures would have me pigtailing 4 Hots (black), 4 Neutrals (white), and 7 Grounds (green) all in one box. I have 12 Ga Romex on hand. Should I move to a smaller gauge to make all the pigtails easier? Should I use seperate boxes?

Thanks for the help for a newbie!
 
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  #2  
Old 05-07-07, 10:46 AM
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Pigtailing that many wires is not an issue. You may want to separate out the ground wires to make them easier to deal with, but the other wires are not an issue. You could only go to smaller cable if the circuit were 15 amps.

What you need to be concerned with is box fill. For 4 12-2 cables you count 9 wires (the grounds only count once). Then multiply b 2.25. That yields 20.25. Then add for three switches. That still put you below the size for most triple gang boxes.

Just buy large wire nuts and you are fine.
 
  #3  
Old 05-07-07, 10:49 AM
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Ideal red wire nuts work great for this.

You can also try the stab-in type. With no twisting of the wires, they really help when you get close to box capacity for wires behind the devices. Just make sure to use them according to the directions.
 
  #4  
Old 05-07-07, 10:59 AM
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racraft- thanks much for your response!

You mention... "You may want to separate out the ground wires to make them easier to deal with". Sorry, I'm early on the learning curve here...not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean pigtail say the 3 grounds coming from the fixtures with a single lead to a pigtail of the 3 switch grounds (+feeder ground)? Make sense?

With respect to the box space...should I get a 4-gang box then to get the room to tuck all the wires? I can hang a 4-gang box as easy as a 3-gang.

Thanks Again!
 
  #5  
Old 05-07-07, 11:07 AM
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Yes, I meant three ground wires with a pigtail to another wire nut connecting the other ground wires, etc.

If you get a four gang box then you have to deal withn an empty spot. Just get the deepest three gang box you can find and take your time.
 
  #6  
Old 05-07-07, 11:08 AM
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With a 4-gang box, you'd need a dummy switch or something to fill the extra space that comes through the sheetrock.

Even with wire nuts, you'll can get it done with the 3-gang box. Just take your time and lay them against the back nicely.
 
  #7  
Old 05-07-07, 11:10 AM
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Ah...good. Ok on the box.

Don't worry, slow is my default speed on just about everything!

Thanks for your help! Doityourself is such a great asset!
 
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