routing to switchedf ixtures


Old 06-12-01, 10:15 AM
Able Sashweight
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When wiring a ceiling light and its wall switch, do you
a. route the branch to the fixture and then run a loop to the switch, or
b. route the branch to the switch and then continue to the fixture?

Which yields the cleanest wiring? Other comments?

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Old 06-12-01, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: ottawa canada
Posts: 1,165
Either way will work, circuit power can go to the switch first or the fixture first. Choice is sometimes decided on ease of cable routing, especially if wires have to be fished thru existing walls.
Old 06-12-01, 01:16 PM
Gary Tait
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It depends, would you sooner have continuous power in the
switch box (so you can install a switch/receptacle,
or run an receptacle off it), or in the ceiling box,
where you may want to install a ceiling fan/light kit
where you want the switch to control just the light, and control the fan at the fan. A reason not to have a switch
loop is that it can be confusing to novice electricians
as to what's up (as is obvious in this forum). All those
problems can be eliminated by running a 14/3 ro 12/3
between the ceiling box and switch.
Old 06-12-01, 06:54 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
I always prefer to run power first to the switch. Look at many of the common questions we get here.

- Why doesn't my new receptacle work that I added by wiring from my switch?
- Why does my breaker blow when I attach black to black and white to white?
- I took down a light fixture, but can't figure out how to connect the new one?
- I added a second light to my first light, but now the light is always on no matter what the position of the switch. Why?
- I replaced my ivory receptacle with a white one, but now the circuit blows when I turn on the switch. Why?

None of these questions would be asked if the circuit had been wired with power to the switch first. Also, how many lights currently have their neutral switch rather than their hot, just because somebody got confused by wire colors.

I'm a strong believer in the power of always knowing that the white wire is a neutral.
Old 06-12-01, 08:27 PM
Able Sashweight
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Nice answers!

I can route these either way, as its all attic access.

I hope to move all of the lightingfrom K&T to NM, and all in the attic. (I'm finding some bare insulation, and question that I will find it all. One caused an 8 ohm short between hot and neutral. Also want to get ground to the fluorescents.) Several years from now I may finish this attic.

Another question (can't remember if I've asked it): should I route the branch circuit from one fixture/switch unit to the next (daisy chain) or branch the branch in a star or tree topology?

Old 06-12-01, 10:32 PM
Able Sashweight
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And I like the idea of by running a 14/3 or 12/3 between the ceiling box and switch. It seems the wires need to be labeled or later wirers will get confused.

Old 06-13-01, 05:56 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 536
I prefer a daisy chain, but again, access thru walls etc. dictate the method.

Someone mentioned some time ago (John maybe?) when you daisy chain, you should not connect the incoming neutral to one screw and the neutral to the next outlet to the other screw. Removing the outlet interrupts the neutral. You should pigtail the 2 neutrals with a 6-inch piece and connect that to the second screw.


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