New Ceiling Light


Old 04-16-04, 06:32 PM
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Unhappy New Ceiling Light

I bought a house with no ceiling lights in our bedrooms. Thinking this was easy because there were wall switches with power running to them from an outlet, I ran a cable in the ceiling from the new ceiling outlet box to the wall switch. I first tried to wire it by tying the two white wires together and then put both black on the switch. no luck

then i tried wiring it by running the receptical power to the light and then a new run from the light to the switch. I connected the wall switch to the new run from the light, black and white (colored the white on both ends with a black line), I then wired at the ceiling light as follows. colored white line to the black power source wire coming from the receptical line then I took the black power source wire to the light black wire and then the white wire of the light to the white wire of the power source.

Do I have enough power from the receptacle to wire a ceiling light off it. If I do, can I wire a ceiling light off a receptacle and how? Thanks for the help, I am going crazy reading manuals and it is still not working....
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Old 04-16-04, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
This is a very common project, and it is very commonly messed up. The problem always arises due to a failure to understand switch loops. Sometimes a failure to understand receptacle tabs further complicates things.

The right way to do this project depends on which of the many possible ways the receptacle and switch were originally wired. Let's start by having you answer just one question about the original switch wiring: before you touched anything, how many wires of each color were present in the switch box?
Old 04-17-04, 03:39 AM
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Hi John, thanks for the quick reply. In the switch box, there were only two wires, one black and one white coming from the same line.
Old 04-17-04, 10:46 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You can use the switch to power your new ceiling light, but only if you give up switching the receptacle. If you want to preserve the switching of the receptacle, you'll need to run your cable from the ceiling to the receptacle box rather than the switch box.

Is it okay with you that the receptacle is no longer switched? Say "yes" and I'll give you the next instructions. It will require you to do some rewiring in the receptacle box, so it would be helpful if you would investigate the wiring there and report back what you see.
Old 04-18-04, 01:06 PM
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Yes, I want to give up the switch to the receptacle. The wiring in the receptacle is as follows:

3 different wires of 14/2 coming into the receptacle box.

1 of the white wires is connected to 2 of the black wires, they have a kicker black wire coming off them to the receptacle.

One of the black wires is connected to the receptacle and

the other two white wires are connected to the receptacle.

I think I am figuring out exactly what i did wrong but I will wait for your guidance till I make a go of it. Thank you for the help.
Old 04-18-04, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
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Okay, here's what to do:
  1. Shut off the breaker.
  2. Go to the receptacle box.
  3. Pull out the receptacle and disconnect all the wiring (except the grounding--you can leave that as is, with all three bare wires connected to the green screw).
  4. Use a wire nut to connect all three of the black wires to two black "kickers" (never heard a pigtail called that before, but I like it so much I'm going to keep using it).
  5. Connect the other end of each kicker to each of the two brass screws. The reason you need two kickers is that this receptacle was formerly only half switched, and thus the electrician broke out the brass tab connecting the two brass screws (take a close look). The two kickers will effectively undo this and connect them back together. Alternatively, you could use one kicker if you first go buy a new receptacle with the tab still intact.
  6. Use a wire nut to connect all three of the white wires to a white kicker.
  7. Connect the other end of the white kicker to either silver screw (you'll notice that the tab is still there on the silver-screw side).
  8. You have now made the receptacle unswitched.
  9. Go to the switch box.
  10. The white wire in the switch box was formerly a unswitched hot wire of a switch loop, but your modifications at the receptacle have changed it into a neutral. If that white wire is marked black (it's supposed to be, but often omitted), then scrape the black marker off since it's not hot any more.
  11. So use a wire nut to connect that white wire from the receptacle box to the new white wire going to your ceiling. The switch will no longer have a white wire conencted to it.
  12. Use a wire nut to connect the two bare wires (one from each cable) to each other, and to a bare or green kicker that goes to the green screw on the switch.
  13. Connect the black wire from the receptacle cable to one of the remaining screws on the switch.
  14. Connect the black wire from the ceiling to the other remaining screw on the switch.
  15. At the ceiling, simply connect black to black, white to white and ground to ground, as per the fixture's installation instructions.
  16. Turn the breaker back on and test.

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