outlet conversion & recessed lighting addition

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  #1  
Old 05-15-05, 12:20 AM
MATTJSKI
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Question outlet conversion & recessed lighting addition

Team -
I'm so glad I found an active forum with some good advice. Hopefully someone can help me out...or rather confirm what I believe to be true. Most of my knowledge is from basic and advanced wiring books (from the library at Home Depot) and what I remember from High School shop class 12 years ago. I'm going to get it inspected before I go final, but I don't want to look too clueless for the inspector, not being an electrician myself. Here goes...

- Situation: want to modify outlet to constant power & use former switch to control new recessed lighting (6 lights)

- Questions: (I'll call posts in components top/bottom left/right -- I'm not sure what the trade designation is)

-- Switched outlet is comprised of neutral going in the top left, and out the bottom left - to a constant power outlet down the wall. Red comes in to the top left from the switch, black is pigtailed from the power in and out to the next outlet. **To make this constant power, do I simple disconnect the red, and run the black from the power in to the top right and out through the bottom right to the next outlet?? And then cap the single red at the switch and the outlet?? **

-- For running remodel can lights across a ceiling, do they need to be stapled against the 2 x 4?? (Because I was hoping to minimalize the numbers of holes I cut in my ceiling)

-- To modify the switch to control the lights, do I (1) simply pig tail the white going to the lights in the existing pigtail; (2) run the black from the power in (presently pigtailed as well with another switch sending power through a different switch to a light) in the top right of the switch, out the bottom right to the lights (ground pigtailed as well obviously...); lastly, because the lights diverge and aren't in a single line, I want to verify that not only do whites and blacks get tied together into the light down the line, but when 2 are connected back through a single light, its okay to connect the 3 whites & 3 blacks at the light from which the current branches.



Thats a lot. Thanks in advance! There's more coming after this project!

Matt
 
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  #2  
Old 05-15-05, 06:32 PM
J
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Sorry, but your information seems inconsistent. Also, you may be presenting as facts things you are only assuming, and assumptions can be wrong.

First of all, it can be misleading to use the word "neutral" when what you really mean is a "white wire". If you mean the white wire, then say the white wire. Not all white wires are neutrals (but I believe that they all are in your situation).

Second, it's dangerous to use terms like "in" and "out", since that can be misleading too.

You refer to the red wire at the outlet as being "from the switch". Unless the walls open so that you can see the cable all the way between the switch and the receptacle, it's difficult to know for sure. It's easy to get into trouble making assumptions that we may not even realize that we're making.

You say that "black is pigtailed from the power in and out to the next outlet". I'm not sure what that means. Are you using the word "pigtailed" to mean a connection with a wire nut. If so, then "pigtail" is the wrong term. Just say that the two wires are connected with a wire nut. I also don't know what "power in" might mean. I'm guessing that you're talking about the cable that you assume is coming from the switch.

At your "switched outlet", you seem to have too many things on the "top left". Is the red wire on the "top right" instead of the "top left" as you said?

Okay, now I've given you all my confusions, I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.

To make this constant power, do I simple disconnect the red, and run the black from the power in to the top right and out through the bottom right to the next outlet?? And then cap the single red at the switch and the outlet?
Yes.

For running remodel can lights across a ceiling, do they need to be stapled against the 2 x 4??
No.

To modify the switch to control the lights, do I
First of all, I need to know which box you're talking about. Are you talking about the switch box or the outlet box? Based on the next puzzle, it seems you might be talking about the switch box. It's going to get a bit confusing because you only described in detail the receptacle box wiring, and now we seem to have jumped to the switch box, which I know nothing about.

(1) simply pig tail the white going to the lights in the existing pigtail;
The only "existing pigtail" you mentioned in your post is the black wire pigtail. You certainly don't want to connect a white wire in with the black wires. But yes, you do want to connect the new white in with the other white wires (in either the switch box or the receptacle box).

(2) run the black from the power in (presently pigtailed as well with another switch sending power through a different switch to a light) in the top right of the switch, out the bottom right to the lights (ground pigtailed as well obviously...);
This part makes little sense to me. Isn't the black from the power in already connected to the switch? So why would you change that? But yes, the black wire going to the new lights should be connected to the screw on the switch that is not the constant power feed. Perhaps this is where the red wire is currently connected?

lastly, because the lights diverge and aren't in a single line, I want to verify that not only do whites and blacks get tied together into the light down the line, but when 2 are connected back through a single light, its okay to connect the 3 whites & 3 blacks at the light from which the current branches.
Yes, at each light, all black wires (no matter how many there are) get connected to each other, and all white wires get connected to each other.

Whew!
 
  #3  
Old 05-15-05, 08:23 PM
MATTJSKI
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sounds like we're almost there

Thank you for taking the time to put all that out. The assumptions you made about what I was referring are all what I meant.

- I said neutral when I indeed meant white wire(s)
- The switched outlet indeed has white on the top left and bottom left. Red on the top right.
- The box (2nd floor) containing the switch which presently controls the outlet right now has 3 switches in the box. The other two switches are each for a 3-way switch -- going up the stairs, and the other going down the stairs (where the light is located, and I assume wires from the switch follow). (Those lights each have a 2nd switch...in this case on the bottom floor, and then on the top/3rd floor) Inside this box housing 3 switches are 3 white wires presently connected together in a wire nut. So from what I asked and the info you provided, I believe I am correct to take the white wire from the (new) circuit running to the lights and add it to the existing white wire nut in the box.
- Your right I'm assuming that the red wire in the outlet comes from the switch. Because the switch controls the power on and off (tested it with a light device at the outlet) and the circuit runs up from the box (to the ceiling), (and the outlet has one 14/3 circuit--coming down from the direction of the ceiling), I took that as fact. I probably didn't effectively communicate all the details. You're absolutely right...its challenging to see how everything is laid out without being able to see through the walls.

My remaining questions:

How can I tell which wire in the switch box is the constant power feed? Currently, the switch controlling the outlet has the red on the bottom right. The top left has two blacks. One black goes to a wirenut of 3 blacks (from that wirenut, I believe that 1 of the black wires goes up/over/down to the outlet with the red wire)

So it would seem that to convert the switch to control the lights, I connect the black wire to the switch on the bottom right...where the red wire formerly was connected. And the constant power feed comes in the top left. Sound good??


Update on the "easy part":

6 of my recessed light holes had an airvent above them...so I had to shift the lay out a little for each surprise. Then I was surprised that my paddle drill bit wasn't long enough to penetrate one of the beams across the ceiling. So I assume I've gotta pick up an extender of some sort at Home Depot. So we're on hold until tomorrow night!

Thanks!!!!

Matt
 
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Old 05-15-05, 08:41 PM
J
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How can I tell which wire in the switch box is the constant power feed?
The only way to tell for sure is to disconnect all the wiring in the box and do a voltage test. I'm not suggesting you do this, however, because that would be a lot of work and present a lot of opportunities to screw up. You can, however, infer which black wire brings power into the box. On the one switch in question that controls the receptacle, where the red wire is attached to the switch, you can be almost certain that one of the two black wires connected to the other screw on the switch is either the constant power feed or at least connected to it. I know of no reason why you would need to figure out which one is " power in" and which one is "power out", but if you do, reread my first sentence. As long as you keep them connected to each other, it matters not which is "in" and which is "out".
 
  #5  
Old 05-15-05, 09:02 PM
MATTJSKI
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gotcha...but one more questions, or two

John,
I'm good with making that assumption -- that one of the 2 black wires in the switch connected to the top left is the constant power.

I really don't have to use one of the other 3 openings for wires in the switch in order for it to control my series of lights?

I hypothesized (remember, not a electrical engineer here) that the switch regulated current going in one end and out another. Is there a good place to read what governs how to set circuits up at an 'applying the principals' level? I can probably catch fish on my own if I can figure out what's making the electrons move this way or that way through the components across switches, lights and outlets. Unfortunately there's a lot of examples out there, but I haven't ran across a primer on AC circuit design.

Thanks

Matt
 
  #6  
Old 05-15-05, 09:17 PM
J
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If you want to understand some of the theory, I'd suggest that you go to your public library, enter "home wiring" into the word search engine, and check out everything that pops up. The first parts of each of these books should cover some subset of electrical theory, enough for you to understand home wiring. You don't really need to know much theory to learn how to properly wire a house. You don't even need to know that such a thing as an electon even exists. And except when dealing with 240-volt circuits, you don't even need to know the difference between alternating current and direct current. Two forumlas are probably all you need: (1) Voltage equals current times resistance (Ohm's law), and (2) Power equals voltage times current. The rest of the rules (e.g., use 12-gauge copper for 20-amp circuits, switch the hot and not the neutral) depend on theory, but you don't need to know the theory to know how to follow the rule. The home wiring books will cover the rules too. Furthermore, the books will give you patterns (i.e., wiring diagrams) that allow you to follow the rules without even knowing all of them (at least in the simplest cases).

If you really want to understand the theory at a deeper level, you might check out the electrical classes at your local community college. Or enter "Ohm's Law" in the library search engine.

But I don't understand the following question:
I really don't have to use one of the other 3 openings for wires in the switch in order for it to control my series of lights?
 
  #7  
Old 05-15-05, 10:28 PM
MATTJSKI
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question rewording

What I meant is there are 4 screws (places to connect wires) in the switch I want to control the lights (top left/top right/bottom left/bottom right), if I have the two black wires attached to the top left (one from the nut with black wires coming off the other 2 switches, and one we suspect is constant power), is that likely all I will need? Not being an expert, I hypothesized that power would go in one side in the form of a black wire, and then out the other side -- allowing the switch to make a connection to complete the circuit.

Matt
 
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