wiring two lights off of one switch

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Old 08-25-09, 01:24 PM
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Question wiring two lights off of one switch

I recently wired two lights off of one switch on my porch. Here is what I did. Off of the switch both (in and out) blacks are attached, both whites capped. At the first light I have an input wire from the switch and an output wire to the second light. At the first light I cap all black wires together and all white wires together.(of course grounds are attached). Once completed I test the connection and all is fine. Switch works and plenty of light. I then attach the wire to the second light; black to black and white to white, ground to ground. I then test the connection. When the breaker is turned on both lights come on and stay on and the switch does not function. I disconnect the second light and the switch and the the light functions properly.

What have I done wrong?
 
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Old 08-25-09, 02:00 PM
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Does your power come in at the switch or light.
 
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Old 08-25-09, 02:09 PM
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Power goes from circuit breaker to receptical to switch then to lights.
 
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Old 08-25-09, 04:48 PM
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Ok. Sorry but I couldn't quite understand how you wired it but here is an easy way.

At the switch run a two conductor cable to the first light. Connect the two whites together. Connect the two blacks to the switch, one to each screw.

At the first light run a second two conductor cable to the second light. Connect the blacks together. Connect the whites together including black and white of the light.

At the second light its just black to black. White to white.

If you want to run both lights from the switch then run two 2-conductor cables from the switch box. One to each light.

At the switch box connect all three whites together. Connect the black of each light cable and a pigtail together. Connect the pigtail to one side of the switch. Connect the black of power in to the other switch screw.

At the lights it is simple black to black, white to white.

All grounds according to standard practice and pigtailed to box if a metal box. 14-2 NM-b for 15a breaker or 12-2 NM-b for 20a breaker.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 07:41 AM
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TY for your input. I will wire the second light from the swith also. I thought that you could power the second light off of the first and the switch would control both. Again thanks for your input and time.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 08:19 AM
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I thought that you could power the second light off of the first
You can. That is the easy way. I explained that way first in my reply.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 09:26 AM
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sorry, reread your original reply. your first suggestion is what I did and it did not work. both lights would come on when i flipped the circuit breaker and the switch did not function. its like the switch was not there and power was direct to both lights. when i disconnected the second light the first light and switch functioned as it should. anyway, i'll wire the second from the switch, your second suggestion. Again thanks for the input.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 09:27 AM
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If you wire the cable going to the second fixture color to color from the first fixture it should be controlled the same way. Do not connect to anything not connected to the first fixture.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 10:29 AM
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recently wired two lights off of one switch on my porch. Here is what I did. Off of the switch both (in and out) blacks are attached, both whites capped. At the first light I have an input wire from the switch and an output wire to the second light. At the first light I cap all black wires together and all white wires together.(of course grounds are attached). Once completed I test the connection and all is fine. Switch works and plenty of light. I then attach the wire to the second light; black to black and white to white, ground to ground. I then test the connection. When the breaker is turned on both lights come on and stay on and the switch does not function. I disconnect the second light and the switch and the the light functions properly.
In the first ceiling box do you have only two cables, each with 2 wires (+ ground)? In the second ceiling box do you have only a single cable with two wires(+ grounnd)? Tell us of any other cables even if you don't think they are relevant.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-26-09 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 08-26-09, 04:10 PM
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Power to switch is from an outlet. Out of the outlet is 12/2 cable (blk/white/ground) to the switch. from the switch is 12/2 cable to the first light. Switch is wired both whites caped together, grounds to switch ground, black in from outlet and blk out to first light wired to switch. At first light I have the cable from the switch and a 12/2 cable to the second light. At the first light all wires from the switch, the light, and the cable to the second light whites are capped together, blacks capped together and grounds capped together. At the second light I have the 12/2 cable from the first light and the wires from the light, all capped by color. As I stated earlier with this configuration when power is applied to the circuit both lights come on and stay on with the switch being bypassed. USing the switch is ineffective. When I remove the second light from the circuit the first light and the switch function properly.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 04:16 PM
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I am baffled. It sounds correct so I'm not sure why the second light causes it to stay on.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 04:28 PM
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I can think of no reason for this condition.
 
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Old 08-26-09, 04:45 PM
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Old 08-26-09, 05:31 PM
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me either, cant explain it. I'm getting old and thought I was doing something wrong. I did this b4 in my shed a while back and thought maybe I forgot something. ya know age plays tricks on ya sometime. anyway, i might play with it until i get so frustrated I'll give up and wire the second light directly to its own switch.

Thanks for your help. Have a great day.
 
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Old 08-31-09, 11:50 AM
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Wow. I logged on today in order to start my own thread regarding this exact situation. I am a fairly experienced DIY'er and this is baffling. I figured it was because I was young and did something wrong.

At my switch I have an incoming cable from the breaker and outgoing cable to the first lamp (whites capped and blacks wired to switch). I pigtailed the first lamp in parallel with this cable coming from the switch, on the second lamp I then connected white/white and black/black.

Same result... switch acts like it doesn't exist. Lights stay on.

I am hoping it is the antique light switch that I couldn't bear to throw away... but it worked fine before I rewired...\

I will let you know if I figure it out.
 
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Old 08-31-09, 01:12 PM
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BINGO - My problem is solved, and yes, I had made a mistake.

Dellfam, I hope yours is this easy, but my circuit still did not work right even when the second lamp was removed, so we may not have the same problem. Here is what I discovered.

My antique gang-box is shallow and the unique switch made for a very cramped space inside the box itself. Apparently, something inside the gang-box was contacting the two poles of the switch, and thus bypassing the switch. I am guessing that it was one of my bare ground wires. Everything fixed itself when I pulled the switch out of the box while it was still wired.

I have the breakers off now and am going to play inside the box till I eliminate any such shorts.

Good luck with yours.
 
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Old 08-31-09, 06:38 PM
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Wrong again - wish I could edit my last post. It was NOT the poles of my switch being shorted together.

Apparently, when the switch is screwed into the gang box, there is just enough torsion on the switch housing to close the circuit somehow, leaving the lights on permanently. Merely unscrewing the switch is what solved my problem... so I definitiely will be replacing that antique switch.

Again, good luck finding your gremlin.
 
 

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