Need help with hard-wiring under cabinet lighting...?

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Old 03-25-09, 05:46 AM
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Need help with hard-wiring under cabinet lighting...?

I have a switch that operates my garbage disposal by the sink (with an outlet plug under the sink.) There is also a wall outlet plug about 14 inches from that said switch on the counter top.

I want to add two more switches to that switch box, (making a total of 3 switches). One will be used for the under cabinet lighting. The other will be used for the over the sink lighting.

Now, my question is.... HOW do I do that? I know how to install a switch.. but how do I get POWER to the switches. Can I tap into the outlet that is 14 inches away? And if I do, how?

Any help would be more than appreciated.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 07:15 AM
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You will need to find another source for power. Neither the small appliance circuit for the countertop receptacles nor the disposal can be used for lighting loads.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 07:37 AM
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The best bet is to tap into the circuit currently serving the existing kitchen lighting. That power is either at (one of) the switch box(es) that controls the existing kitchen lighting, or at the light fixture itself (you'll have to check, as it is sometimes one way and sometimes the other).

Once you've identfied where to get power, then you need to figure out how to route the cable. If there is an accessible attic above the room, or an accessible unfinished basement below it, that is often the best way.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 04:14 PM
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Well that's not good news. But good to know nonetheless! Thank you!

Actually, the house is a 2 story house with a slab foundation. No possible way to route anything above or below.

Lets say I completely "disable" the outlet I am speaking of. Get rid of the box and never use the plugs. (Of course, cover the hole in the wall.)

Even then, would that be enough power? I might be wrong because an electrician I am now, but 5 18 watt fluoros can't draw that much power, can they?
 
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Old 03-25-09, 04:24 PM
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The issue is the code rules regarding other loads like lighting cannot be on the small appliance circuits.

Even if you were to remove the receptacle that circuit would still be improperly shared if it powered the lighting.

If you were to get rid of that receptacle box you may create another code violation because now the receptacle spacing requirements are not properly met.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 06:45 PM
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WOW. I didn't even think of any of that, so I am so glad you brought it up. Many thanks to you.

So it looks like the only real way to do it is use the external socket and just plug them in and switch em on. What an unprofessional looking bummer.

Thanks for the help anyway! Unless there is another option.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 07:24 PM
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If you have carpet on your second floor it wouldn't be that hard to run a line with out busting any sheet rock. Just cut and remove enough flooring to go from wall where the cabinet lights will be to the downstairs overhead light if that has an always hot cable.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 08:59 PM
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Interesting. Well then that leads me to another question then.

How do you find the hot lead that's buried in a popcorn ceiling or a cabinet covered wall? Basically, how do I know the ceiling light is always hot?


Sorry for the questions you guys. Just learning here.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 09:09 PM
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Wiring, done properly, should have all ends terminated in junction boxes. You could take the ceiling light down to see if any wires were not directly terminated to the fixture wires.
 
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Old 03-26-09, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
I have a switch that operates my garbage disposal by the sink (with an outlet plug under the sink).....
How many wires are in the switch box? Is the garbage disposal fed from a lighting circuit? How many amps does the garbage disposal draw? Look on its nameplate.

The garbage disposal can be on a lighting circuit if it does not draw more than 50% of the branch circuit rating. Example: 20 amp branch circuit. Disposal cannot draw more than 10 amps. 15 amp branch circuit: disposal cannot draw more than 7-1/2 amps.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
There is also a wall outlet plug about 14 inches from that said switch on the counter top.
Forget about using the countertop outlet. NEC dosen't allow it.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
I want to add two more switches to that switch box, (making a total of 3 switches). One will be used for the under cabinet lighting.
You won't be able to add switches to the single-gang box. You would have to install a 2-gang box at a minimum.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
The other will be used for the over the sink lighting.
How do you plan on running the cable from the switch to the over the sink light?

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Now, my question is.... HOW do I do that? I know how to install a switch.. but how do I get POWER to the switches.
Tell us how many wires are in the disposal's switch box and then we can give you a better idea how to accomplish that.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Can I tap into the outlet that is 14inches away?
NO!
 
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Old 03-26-09, 04:56 PM
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Cool. Thanks for the info!

The disposal switch box is hard to get to so I'd hate to dig around under the sink for nothing.

Basically, my main goal here is to find where the lighting circuit is, correct? And then I need to figure out how to tap into that. Well.... then how do I find the lighting circuit? There is only one light in the kitchen and it is overhead.

And does the location of the GFI sockets make any difference?

You won't be able to add switches to the single-gang box. You would have to install a 2-gang box at a minimum.
Yes of course. Actually it would be 3. But the way its going, it doesn't look like any.
 
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Old 03-27-09, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
The disposal switch box is hard to get to so I'd hate to dig around under the sink for nothing.
To be clear, I mean the switch box where you actually turn the disposal on/off. I thought it was the one mounted in the wall adjacent to the sink. We need to know how many wires are in the wall-mounted switch box.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Basically, my main goal here is to find where the lighting circuit is, correct? And then I need to figure out how to tap into that. Well.... then how do I find the lighting circuit? There is only one light in the kitchen and it is overhead.
You also need to found out which circuit the disposal is on now. Turn the lights on in the kitchen and any other adjacent rooms. Turn a circuit breaker “off” (should be a single breaker) (turn it back on if it’s not the one) until you find the breaker that supplies the lights. Turn the disposal on to see if it’s fed from the turned off circuit breaker. Check the counter top receptacle that is near the disposal switch to see if it’s off too. You can’t have the disposal on the same circuit as the small appliance branch circuits’ receptacles.

When you find the circuit breaker, cycle it one more time to make sure you have the correct one. Do you have a multi-meter or other type voltage meter? Check for voltage at the receptacle where the disposal is plugged into to make the circuit is dead.

Tell us the amp rating of the subject circuit breaker. Should be either a 15 or 20 amp.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
And does the location of the GFI sockets make any difference?.
I don’t understand the question.

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Yes of course. Actually it would be 3. But the way its going, it doesn't look like any.
You can install one single pole switch and one piggyback switch (one switch on top and one switch on the bottom) to the 2-gang box.
 
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Old 03-27-09, 04:56 PM
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Alrighty here we go.

The breaker is 20 amp.

The disposal is on its own breaker. 20 amps.

The light switch with a GFI is on its own breaker. 20 amps.

There are 3 sets of wires coming into the garbage disposal switch. 2 sets are the common black/white/copper ground and the third set is red/black/copper ground.

Unfortunately, there is nowhere on the disposal that lists its amperage. All it says is Kenmore and 1/3 horsepower. No model number plate or anything. Kinda weird.

The following is a photo of the kitchen counter top:

And this is what I wanted to convert the disposal switch to. One for the garbage disposal. One for the under cabinet lights. And one for the overhead sink light.



Again, I cannot thank you enough for the help! I have learned quite a bit already and look forward to more.
 
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Old 03-30-09, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Alrighty here we go. The breaker is 20 amp.
What does this breaker feed?

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
The disposal is on its own breaker. 20 amps.
This is good!

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
The light switch with a GFI is on its own breaker. 20 amps.
The GFCI receptacle is switched? Do you want to keep it that way?

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Unfortunately, there is nowhere on the disposal that lists its amperage. All it says is Kenmore and 1/3 horsepower. No model number plate or anything. Kinda weird.
I would venture to guess the disposal does not draw more than 10 amps. What is the total watts for undercabinet lights and over the sink light?

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
The following is a photo of the kitchen counter top: [IMG]htttp://i115.photobucket.com/albums/n307/tokey666/countertop.jpg[/IMG]

And this is what I wanted to convert the disposal switch to. One for the garbage disposal. One for the under cabinet lights. And one for the overhead sink light.

I'll have to view the pictures later today. You do want all 4 switches in the same box, correct?

Originally Posted by tokey666 View Post
Again, I cannot thank you enough for the help! I have learned quite a bit already and look forward to more.
No problem
 
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Old 03-30-09, 06:29 PM
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What does this breaker feed?
Each breaker to the kitchen is 20 amps. One breaker alone feeds the disposal. One breaker alone feeds the GFCI receptacle.

The GFCI receptacle is switched? Do you want to keep it that way?
Huh? Switched? Not sure what you mean. If I had a choice, it would be MUCH prefered to use the GFCI outlet's power than the disposal. Since the disposal is way under the kitchen sink and the GFCI outlet is right next to the switch. (not even a stud between em!) Whether that's an option, you tell me.

I would venture to guess the disposal does not draw more than 10 amps. What is the total watts for undercabinet lights and over the sink light?
Still shopping for the lights, however, I am almost set on 4x12watts for under the cabinets and 25 watts for above the sink. Total of 73 watts.

I'll have to view the pictures later today. You do want all 4 switches in the same box, correct?
3 Switches. 1) Disposal 2) Under Cabinet Lights and 3) Over sink.

And yes, correct.



THANKS!!! THANKS!
 
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Old 04-05-09, 07:33 AM
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uh oh, did I lose ya thinman?
 
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Old 04-07-09, 04:02 AM
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If I understand correctly you want to remove the single switch and box for the garbage disposall and replace it with a box that will contain 3 switches? One switch will be for the disposal, one for the undercabinet lights and one for the over the sink light. Is that correct? As others have said, you cannot tap into the dispoal circuit nor the GFCI circuit for the countertop receptacle. Does the kitchen have an overhead light? That is probably your best place to thy to pull in power from. Frankly, from the decription of your house, you will probably have to open the ceiling and maybe the wall where the switch for the overhead light is.
 
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Old 04-07-09, 06:23 AM
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Ouch.

That may be code, but that confuses me. haha.

I have one circuit breaker that controls all the "lighting" for my downstairs. That's a kitchen overhead light, a ceiling fan/light/ AND my kitchen light.

Wouldn't it make sense that you could hook up lighting to something that has NO load on it (like the gfi outlet)? Just playing devil's advocate here really.

I understand what you guys are saying and how it is required by CODE to work. I am just saying... CODE is silly. LOL.

Then again, what is the difference in that, and plugging in one of those "out of the box" under cabinet lighting systems that you must plug into the wall? They draw the same load from the outlet. Why is THAT allowed, but not hard wired and bypassing the "plug"?

I am not being funny here actually. This is an actual question that I would LOVE an answer to.
 
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Old 04-07-09, 10:45 AM
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The code is based on the premise that if you start stealing power from your small appliance circuits for other things that you (or the next homeowner) will be tempted to do dangerous things to run your small appliances (e.g., running an extension cord from another room). The code is very U.S.-centric and is based on typical U.S. lifestyles, which change from time to time. Even if you are not "typical", the code is trying to protect the next homeowner who may be so. Of course the code is a compromise so that it can be too lenient on people who are atypical in one direction and too strict on people who are atypical in the other direction. As stated, the code is a compromise and seeks to do the most good for the most people.

When people are doing electrical projects, they tend to think the code is too strict. When people are injured or cannot use their house in their desired manner, they tend to think the code is too lenient. You can't please everybody.
 
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Old 04-07-09, 05:59 PM
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VERY well put! And I understand completely. Many thanks.

Well, it looks as though I am going to start seeing how I can tap into the power from the kitchen overhead light. I don't want to break code. Even though I didn't understand it.

Many thanks, yet again.
 
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