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Triple Switch Wiring for New Bathroom Ventilation Fan/Light/Night Light

Triple Switch Wiring for New Bathroom Ventilation Fan/Light/Night Light

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  #1  
Old 10-27-09, 06:23 PM
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Triple Switch Wiring for New Bathroom Ventilation Fan/Light/Night Light

I'm extremely new at this, so please bear with me and use small words.

I am in the process of installing a new ventilation fan in my master bathroom. The unit has a fan, light and night light, so I have a triple switch that I plan to use (COOPER WIRING DEVICES 3283W-SP SWITCH 3SP GRND WHT 15A). Based on what I've found through my research, I think I understand what needs to be done, but would like to clarify before I actually hook anything up. Just some background information that I hope will help.

The unit that I have purchased has the following wiring:
Fan: 3 wires, black, white and green
Light: 3 wires, black, white and green
Night Light: 2 wires, black and white

I have a GFCI outlet inches from where I want to mount the triple switch, so my intention is to tap into the Load side of this outlet to power my new switch. Here is how I believe the wiring should be:

12-2 running from the GFCI outlet to my new triple switch. Black to black screw on switch, white wire left for now. Two runs of 12-2 from my switch up to the exhaust fan. Of those 4 new wires, two blacks and a hot white will be connected to each of the three copper screws on the other side of my switch. These three hot wires will be connected, one each, to the black wires of my fan, light and night light. The three white wires on the unit will be connected to the non-hot white of my new 12-2 wire which will be connected to the previously unused white that comes off my GFCI outlet.

How am I doing so far? Can all the greens be tied together and connected to the copper in my 12-2 and subsequently grounded to my triple switch?

Again, I'm extremely new to electrical projects, so any help and advice would be greatly appreciated. Nothing is hooked up yet, so any damage that I've done with my previous configuration is all theoretical for now.

Thanks in advance for your help.
 
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Old 10-27-09, 06:53 PM
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No good.

1. You can't use the GFCI circuit for the lighting. And even if you decide to ignore the code (which the homeowner can do), don't put the lights/fan on the load side of the outlet. Use the existing lighting circuit. If you don't already have a lighting circuit in the room, you need to run one.
2. You can't wire the units the way you want to. If you want three independent controls (i.e. three switches, one each for the light, night light and fan), then you need to run either three 2-wire cables or one 2-wire cable and one 3-wire cable. I suggest the latter option unless you don't want to spend the money for 3-wire.

Take the feed in (the constantly hot wire from the circuit) and wire it to the hot on the switch. Take the three black wires (or two black and one red if you chose to run two 2-wire cables and one 3-wire cable) and put them on on the terminals on the switched (load) side of the switch. Wire the fixture(s) color to color, splicing the green wires to the bare copper wires in the cable you just ran. Splice the bare wires together in the switch box, and if the box is metal, ground the box.

Ask questions if this is too confusing.
 
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Old 10-28-09, 04:14 AM
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Good morning and thanks for your reply-

1.) Just for my own knowledge, why can I not hook this unit up to my GFCI outlet? Do GFCI outlets need to be the only thing on a circuit (dictated by code)? There is a light over the sink controlled by a single switch. This draws power from the GFCI outlet which is why I didn't think it would be a problem to power my fan off this as well. This was preexisting and this light and outlet are the only things on this circuit (15A).

2.) The wiring solution that you presented seems very clear. Just to clarify, how are the whites handled? If my count is correct, on the unit side, I'll have three whites from the unit and two whites from the 12-2 and 12-3 cable that I ran. On the switch side, I'll have two whites from the 12-2 and 12-3 cable that I ran and the white from the line. Can these all be tied together at their respective locations (similar to how you recommended handling the greens/bare copper)?

Thank you again for the response and for your patience.
 
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Old 10-28-09, 05:26 AM
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Yes, you can run the lights and fan on a GFCI circuit and it's OK by code. The one thing I would think about is that night light. Do you really need to hook that up. I have the same type of fan combo in my shower area but didn't hook up the night light. just the fan and main light. I ran 12-3 W/G on 2 switches. In the fan unit used the black wire and light I used the Red wire on the 12-3 wire. Connected all the whites together and the grounds. One thing to remember is you're not going to have a lot of room in the box on your fan unit and using the 12 wire it gets even harder.

Jim
 
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Old 10-28-09, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by nickdel View Post
No good.

1. You can't use the GFCI circuit for the lighting. And even if you decide to ignore the code (which the homeowner can do), don't put the lights/fan on the load side of the outlet. Use the existing lighting circuit. If you don't already have a lighting circuit in the room, you need to run one.
2. You can't wire the units the way you want to. If you want three independent controls (i.e. three switches, one each for the light, night light and fan), then you need to run either three 2-wire cables or one 2-wire cable and one 3-wire cable. I suggest the latter option unless you don't want to spend the money for 3-wire.

Take the feed in (the constantly hot wire from the circuit) and wire it to the hot on the switch. Take the three black wires (or two black and one red if you chose to run two 2-wire cables and one 3-wire cable) and put them on on the terminals on the switched (load) side of the switch. Wire the fixture(s) color to color, splicing the green wires to the bare copper wires in the cable you just ran. Splice the bare wires together in the switch box, and if the box is metal, ground the box.

Ask questions if this is too confusing.
Nickdel, I beleive you can use a GFCI on this. Nothing in the code that states you can't.

JimBeer 4U2
 
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Old 10-28-09, 08:51 AM
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I thought the code says that the lighting/fan can only be on the same circuit as the GFCI if there is nothing else on that circuit - i.e. there is a dedicated bathroom circuit that has nothing else tapped off of it elsewhere in the house. I usually run the GFCI on its own circuit anyway, because you never know what anyone else is going to do down the line.

Oh, and either way, the lighting shouldn't be on the load side of the GFCI. It should all be spliced first, then go to the line side of the GFCI. You don't want the GFCI to trip and turn out the lights. Plus, I think the fan motor could trip the GFCI under normal operating conditions. is that so?
 
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Old 10-28-09, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by nickdel View Post
I thought the code says that the lighting/fan can only be on the same circuit as the GFCI if there is nothing else on that circuit - i.e. there is a dedicated bathroom circuit that has nothing else tapped off of it elsewhere in the house. I usually run the GFCI on its own circuit anyway, because you never know what anyone else is going to do down the line.

( If that GFCI is on a dedicated circuit only for that bath you can put the light & fan on it. Yes, I agree with you about putting the light on a different circuit but some people don't do it like that. I have many AHJs in my area that require any lights & fans over tubs & showers to be on the GFCI. Even if it's not in the code book I still have to do it. )

Oh, and either way, the lighting shouldn't be on the load side of the GFCI. It should all be spliced first, then go to the line side of the GFCI. You don't want the GFCI to trip and turn out the lights. Plus, I think the fan motor could trip the GFCI under normal operating conditions. is that so?
( If the fan is on the GFCI circuit and it trips then there's a problem with the fan. As I said earlier I have many AHJs in my area that require any lights & fans over tubs & showers to be on the GFCI but not required by code. Yes, where he's at he isn't required ( I Think )to have them on the GFCI and putting in the line side would be ok so if it trips he would still have a light & fan. )

Thanks!
Jim
 
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Old 10-28-09, 03:34 PM
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Obviously (or maybe not), I'm not expecting the GFCI to trip with any sort of regularity. And if it does trip, I would assume that there is a reason that it tripped and it might not be bad to cut the power to the other things in my bathroom (in this case, vanity light and ventilation fan). Speaking of, the switch for the vanity lights is a few inches above the GFCI outlet. Is there a recommendation as far as tapping off the GFCI directly or using the light switch which is tapped into the GFCI?

Like I've said, I am new to this, but I would like to do it the right way as much as possible (short of running a new line from my box).
 
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Old 10-28-09, 04:44 PM
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Lots have been said in here. Without rehashing to much old ground the reason you don't usually put the light on the GFCI so if it trips your not left in the dark. Unless required by the manufacturer for such things as lights in a shower you don't need to.

Here's how I would do it. Check a few electric supply houses and see if any sell 12-4 NM-b (4-conductor Romex with ground) by the foot. Not an every day item but it will simplify the wiring. Run a 12-2 from the line side of the GFCI. Connect the whites together.

Connect the grounds together and pigtail to the switch. Also pigtail the ground to the box if it is
metal.

Connect three pigtails to the 2-conductor black. One one pigtail to each switch. Connect the remaining three wires of the 4-conductor to the remaining screw on each of the three switches.

If you can't find 12-4 run a 12-2 and 12-3. Use the 12-2 for one of the functions and wire the 12-3 for the other functions. connect all whites connect all grounds. At the fixture do not connect all whites together. Connect the white of the 12-2 only to the white of the part of the fixture it serves. The white of the 12-3 goes to the whites of two fixtures hooked to the red and black of the 12-3.

Re-reading it seems like you have a combo switch. In that case the black of the 12-2 does not need pigtails. It goes to the common of the switch. All other connections are the same.
 
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Old 10-28-09, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Toot4fun View Post
Obviously (or maybe not), I'm not expecting the GFCI to trip with any sort of regularity. And if it does trip, I would assume that there is a reason that it tripped and it might not be bad to cut the power to the other things in my bathroom (in this case, vanity light and ventilation fan). Speaking of, the switch for the vanity lights is a few inches above the GFCI outlet. Is there a recommendation as far as tapping off the GFCI directly or using the light switch which is tapped into the GFCI?

Like I've said, I am new to this, but I would like to do it the right way as much as possible (short of running a new line from my box).
Toot4fun, are you sure that you what to hook up that night light also. I bet if you look at your fan/light combo the box that the wires will go in is very small. You are going to have a hard time getting all those wire in that box using all those #12 wires. I just did a home and ran 12-3 w/g and it was very hard getting all the wires in that box at the fan. I didn't have to hook up the night light which saved me because I didn't have anymore for wires and I had to us #12 wire in that one. Just checking for sure on this. Also are you saying that the light switch above the GFCI outlet is on the same bathroom circuit? So if you shut off the breaker you wouldn't have any outlets or lights in your bathroom? let us know.

Thank You!
Jim
 
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Old 10-28-09, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by rukkus11 View Post
Toot4fun, are you sure that you what to hook up that night light also. I bet if you look at your fan/light combo the box that the wires will go in is very small. You are going to have a hard time getting all those wire in that box using all those #12 wires. I just did a home and ran 12-3 w/g and it was very hard getting all the wires in that box at the fan. I didn't have to hook up the night light which saved me because I didn't have anymore for wires and I had to us #12 wire in that one. Just checking for sure on this. Also are you saying that the light switch above the GFCI outlet is on the same bathroom circuit? So if you shut off the breaker you wouldn't have any outlets or lights in your bathroom? let us know.

Thank You!
Jim
Hey Jim-

Based on what Ray said, it seems like it wouldn't be too difficult to wire the night light as well, however, like you said, I don't know that I'm going to have enough room in the box for all that 12-gauge wire. The more I think about it, I might just keep my triple switch, but only run 12-3 and wire the light and fan (leaving one switch empty should I decide to wire the night light later).

Yes, you are correct - if I flip my breaker, the whole bathroom goes out - GFCI outlet, vanity lights and, if I wire it as such, my ventilation fan/light. Other than being in the dark if something trips, is there a problem with this?

Thank you!
 
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Old 10-29-09, 09:56 AM
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The reason for using cables that each contain a Neutral Conductor is NEC Art. 300.20.

If you could extend from a 15 amp circuit , you could use 3/8 " Flexible Metal Conduit containing Black / Red / Blue / White #14 THHN stranded conductors, the metal of the FMC serving as the Equiptment Grounding Conductor.

IF you use two NM cables , a 12/2 & a 12/3 , thats seven #12 wires with two duplicate Neutrals and two duplicate Grounding Conductors inside the fan splice-box, such splice -boxes very compact and always undersized. The #12's will be connecting to either #16 or #18 wire-leads , so #12 is "overkill".
 
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Old 10-29-09, 10:26 AM
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My thought is to run a new 15 amp circuit. That reduces the wire size to #14 as PATTBAA suggested. Instead of MC though I would use Smurf conduit and four # 14 stranded wires. The smurf is easier to run then MC and stranded wires are easier to work with then solid. You would need a total of five wires. Black, red , blue or three black wires remarked those or any colors but white or green and one white for neutral and one green or bare for ground.

The proper name for Smurf is ENT. It is blue, plastic, and corrugated.
 
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Old 10-29-09, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Toot4fun View Post
Hey Jim-

Based on what Ray said, it seems like it wouldn't be too difficult to wire the night light as well, however, like you said, I don't know that I'm going to have enough room in the box for all that 12-gauge wire. The more I think about it, I might just keep my triple switch, but only run 12-3 and wire the light and fan (leaving one switch empty should I decide to wire the night light later).

Yes, you are correct - if I flip my breaker, the whole bathroom goes out - GFCI outlet, vanity lights and, if I wire it as such, my ventilation fan/light. Other than being in the dark if something trips, is there a problem with this?

Thank you!
Toot4fun, Everyone has great ideas and this is mine. I just wired my new home and had the same fan/light combo with a night light. Night light didn't put of that much light and figured if I wanted a night light I would just one in a outlet or now, you can buy them that's on a outlet. The top is the light and you have 1 plug in on the bottom. Going back to what your thread. If I remember correctly you said you had a light switch near the GFCI receptacle tie on the line side of it. If you don't want to hook up the night light put your triple switch in that box. So then you would have a switch for the vanity, shower light plus a switch for the fan. From that box then run 12-3 w/g. This would give you 2 hots ( fan & light control ), a neutral and a ground and I know you can get these wires in your fan/light combo. Remember if you wire it up this way and your GFCI trips at least you will have lights because you will be on your line side of your GFCI receptacle. Hopefully this doesn't confuse you.

Thanks!
Jim

 

Last edited by rukkus11; 10-29-09 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 10-29-09, 02:48 PM
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I wrote
would use Smurf conduit and four # 14 stranded wires
Correction five wires not four. Later explanation in post is correct.

Ray
 
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Old 10-29-09, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by rukkus11 View Post
Toot4fun, Everyone has great ideas and this is mine. I just wired my new home and had the same fan/light combo with a night light. Night light didn't put of that much light and figured if I wanted a night light I would just one in a outlet or now, you can buy them that's on a outlet. The top is the light and you have 1 plug in on the bottom. Going back to what your thread. If I remember correctly you said you had a light switch near the GFCI receptacle tie on the line side of it. If you don't want to hook up the night light put your triple switch in that box. So then you would have a switch for the vanity, shower light plus a switch for the fan. From that box then run 12-3 w/g. This would give you 2 hots ( fan & light control ), a neutral and a ground and I know you can get these wires in your fan/light combo. Remember if you wire it up this way and your GFCI trips at least you will have lights because you will be on your line side of your GFCI receptacle. Hopefully this doesn't confuse you.

Thanks!
Jim

Hey Jim-

Actually, that sounds like the best idea yet. It never even dawned on me to replace the existing switch, especially if I was willing to forgo the night light (which I think I will). This will prevent me from having to cut any new holes and replaces wall boxes. It sounds like this will also only require me to install one 12-3 run (yes, I know the 12-gauge is overkill, but some other posts recommended that it was always better to go bigger). So really, the wiring will be the same as if I wanted to use the night light (12-2 and 12-3) except that my 12-2 is really just for my vanity lights which already exist in the box (they'll just be moved to the new switch) - correct?

As for the comment about my GFCI, currently, my vanity lights are on the load side of my GFCI, so if it trips, they go out. If I'm going to use this to power my triple switch, won't the same be true of my vanity lights and now ventilation fan? As I mentioned earlier, I'm OK with that, I just want to make sure that I understand correctly.

Thanks also to those who recommended installing another circuit, but at this time, I really can't justify that. My master bathroom is on the second floor and that really seems like a lot of work for a unit that moves hot air outside.

Thanks again,
Brian
 
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Old 10-29-09, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Toot4fun View Post
Hey Jim-

Actually, that sounds like the best idea yet. It never even dawned on me to replace the existing switch, especially if I was willing to forgo the night light (which I think I will). This will prevent me from having to cut any new holes and replaces wall boxes. It sounds like this will also only require me to install one 12-3 run (yes, I know the 12-gauge is overkill, but some other posts recommended that it was always better to go bigger). So really, the wiring will be the same as if I wanted to use the night light (12-2 and 12-3) except that my 12-2 is really just for my vanity lights which already exist in the box (they'll just be moved to the new switch) - correct?

As for the comment about my GFCI, currently, my vanity lights are on the load side of my GFCI, so if it trips, they go out. If I'm going to use this to power my triple switch, won't the same be true of my vanity lights and now ventilation fan? As I mentioned earlier, I'm OK with that, I just want to make sure that I understand correctly.

Thanks also to those who recommended installing another circuit, but at this time, I really can't justify that. My master bathroom is on the second floor and that really seems like a lot of work for a unit that moves hot air outside.

Thanks again,
Brian
Brian, You are correct on the GFCI if it's hooked up on the load side. If it trips then everything on your triple will go off also. I thought you wrote it was hooked up on the line side but I was mistaken. Sorry about that. What you can do is if your power for your light switch is feed from your box with the GFCI in it you can take them off your load side and put them on your line side. Then if it trips you would still have lights. I don't think either way is bad for what you have to work with.
Hope this helps and make sure you shut off the power when you do this project.
Bye now!
Jim
 
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Old 10-29-09, 04:52 PM
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Thanks Jim! I might just move it to the line side of the GFCI.

And I'm totally on board with cutting the power - it only takes one good zap to learn that lesson and I already got mine on my first project.
 
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