First electrical project: question about wire-sharing


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Old 02-19-13, 07:20 AM
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First electrical project: question about wire-sharing

Hi,

This should be an utterly simple question for those of you with electrical knowledge, as I have none whatsoever.

Currently in my living room is a light switch that controls an outlet on the opposite side of the room. I would like to re-purpose that switch to control track lights which I will install next weekend. What's the proper way to:

1) bypass the switch so the outlet is always hot, and;

2) use the switch to control the track lights

Am I okay to bypass the switch and directly connect the wires to accomplish #1 (basically re-connecting the wires which were spliced to incorporate the switch in the original design, but also introduce a third wire in my pigtail to feed electricity to the switch and accomplish #2?


Thank you!

-Jeff
 
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Old 02-19-13, 07:35 AM
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First question is where does power come in, at the switch or the receptacle? Second question is would it be easier to run the new cable to the switch or the receptacle?

To determine where power comes in you need to open the switch box. If there are only two wires, a white and black, connected to the switch power comes in at the receptacle. If there is a group of white wires connected only to each other in the switch box and two black wires on the switch, then power comes in at the switch.

Above assumes a single location switch not a three way switch. Grounds are not addressed.
 
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Old 02-19-13, 07:43 AM
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I'll check tonight when I get home and reply. Thanks!
 
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Old 02-19-13, 11:08 AM
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On your way home stop at the local big-box megamart homecenter and buy a copy of Wiring Simplified. Wiring Simplified is a relatively small booklet written for the layperson and details not only HOW but WHY things are done the way they are in the electrical field. It has been in print continuously for over fifty years, revised every three years to update for electrical code changes. You will most likely find it in the electrical aisle and NOT in the books and magazine section. The cost is usually less than $10.

Read it cover-to-cover and you will find that you have questions you would never have even thought to ask. Electricity is an equal opportunity killer and we want you to be safe and live a long and happy life.
 
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Old 02-19-13, 01:41 PM
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If they don't carry Wiring Simplified at your local big-box megamart homecenter (mine doesn't ), you can order it on line: Wiring Simplified. Many of us consider it the best $10 tool in the kit.
 
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Old 02-20-13, 07:38 AM
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I checked last night, and the power does come in at the switch (single pole).
 
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Old 02-20-13, 08:22 AM
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Since the power comes in at the switch then the wire to your track lights must also connect there.

In that switch box :

You would connect all three whites together.

Connect the two black wires, that are currently on the switch, together and connect an additional short piece of black wire to that connection for a tail to go to the switch.

The black coming from the track would go to the remaining screw on the switch.
 
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Old 02-20-13, 08:33 AM
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After following PJ's instructions check that the tab between the brass screws on the receptacle hasn't been removed.
 
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Old 02-20-13, 08:45 AM
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Thank you PJmax, I was hoping I could do that!

Ray - Thanks for pointing that part out, I'll remember to have a look at that as well.

I'll still go out and buy the wiring book so I can learn more fun stuff, and of course help mitigate risk of death.
 
 

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