Switch Organization Advice


Old 10-19-11, 08:56 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
Switch Organization Advice

OK I finally managed to get all the courtyard and exterior light relocated to one spot. I am now trying to decide how best to organize my switches.

If I am standing outside facing my property, I have:

1 - left exterior soffit lights (a series of six)
2 - right exterior soffit lights (a series of six)
3 - left security flood light
4 - right security flood light
5 - left eave outlet (for Christmas lights)
6 - right eave outlet (for Christmas lights)
7 - entrance pole lights (2) and step lights (2)

As I walk into the courtyard, I have:

8 - entrance center soffit lights (a series of eight)
9 - swimming pool lights (submerged)

Other exterior lights:
10 - backyard exterior soffit lights (a series of eight)
11 - backyard security flood light

Each of the number above indicates an individual wire that can be switched, so I have eleven wires going into this 5-gang box inside the courtyard entrance.

Now what I need to do is to consolidate this into five switches. I already combined the left pole light, right pole light, left step light, right step light into one wire in another box, as I cannot think of a case I wouldn't turn them all on or off at the same time. But still I have 11 wires to sort out.

I can further consolidate some of these, or use a switch that has multiple buttons. I was looking at these switches and they would work out well in my situation since I have so many left/right combinations.

Now I am trying to decide, how should I combine these wires and switches?

Should I group all the left together, and the right together? So as I face the 5 gang wall plate, the switches to the left are for lights on the left, or should I combine them functionally, like have a three button switch for all security flood lights, on that switch the left button is for left flood lights, the right button for right flood lights and the big one at the bottom is for center lights?

Seems there are different ways to combine them, I know there is no code governing this, but thought may be the experienced pros here know of good practices versus bad practices.

The eave outlets would rarely be used, may be one time a year max.

I am also thinking adding a photo cell, to control all the security flood lights, so there will be a switch, and a photo cell, to control all security flood lights. Will this be a good idea?

Any thoughts appreciated, will wire them all tomorrow.
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Old 10-20-11, 05:13 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,221
Any thoughts appreciated, will wire them all tomorrow.
It's all personal preference.
Old 10-21-11, 09:12 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,296
I agree with Joe -- it's all your preference. There really isn't a good or bad way to do it. With that many plates in one spot it would be a good idea to order some engraved covers so you have a chance of knowing what switch does what.

My personal preference is to have fewer switches. How often are you really going to do a laser light show with the house turning front and back left and right all on separately?
Old 10-21-11, 01:16 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,312
I have 4 switches next to my front door. They are in the order I use them the most, closest to the door being the most used.

Closest to door...
1. Inside table lamp.
2. Outside light above front door.
3. Left side of house floodlights. (left looking out front door)
4. Right side of house floodlights. (right looking out front door)

In my bathroom are 3 switches, again in the order most used...

Closest to door...
1. Light above sink/toilet.
2. Fan.
3. Light above bathtub.
Old 10-22-11, 01:43 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,445
Yes it is somewhat of an overkill. I was thinking there is some rare application for front lights being on to one side only, such as Halloween or car parked on that side etc...

I end up doing it geographically and functionally. Kind of left switch for left side, the front light correspond to the top switch etc...surprisingly the way I did it I have no confusion whatsoever which one is which even with five switches and two buttons on each.

I did find out those multiple button switches has a great advantage in terms of reducing box congestion. If you organize the switches by circuit, you can virtually eliminate all pigtails in the box. In my case I wanted to do it differently.

One question on photo cell. If I want to control 3 security flood lights on different corners by three switches, its easy I just split a wire in 3, wire three switches and run them to the lights. However those are not dusk to dawn types. Is there anyway I can use one single photo cell at the switch location, to control all of them? I can't see how this is possible with 3 switches.
Old 10-22-11, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,312
If those 3 switches are all on the same circuit, then they would tie into that one circuit at one point. So just route the power going to those 3 switches though the photocell, then on to the 3 switches.

Just be sure the photocell is rated for enough wattage for all those lights combined.

So power -> photocell -> to 3 switches and then lights

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