Bath light & fan on same switch, how to separate?

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Old 05-19-13, 07:22 PM
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Bath light & fan on same switch, how to separate?

Hi, I have a bathroom light and exhaust fan on the same switch (a motion sensor) and I'd like to put them on separate normal switches. The light and fan are separate units. First I need help determining if the two are wired independently, because I don't want to run new wire. If they are separate, then I need help understanding how to separate them. Below is a picture of how things are strung together currently. (Please let me know if I can provide additional pics to clarify.) I appreciate any assistance!
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Old 05-19-13, 07:34 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

It is difficult to tell what is coming into and going out of the box. What I would expect to find if there are wires to run the fan and light separately is as follows;

One set of wires coming into the box from the breaker-box. Could be either Black/White/Ground or Black/Red/White/Ground
Going to the fixtures from the switch would either be a Black/Red/White Ground (where Black is hot to control one fixture and the Red is hot to the other fixture).
or
Two separate Black/White/Grounds going to each fixture.

It is hard to tell from the photo, but I believe I see only one black (hot) going into the switch and one hot coming out. If that is the case, then new wires might need to be installed to separate the fixtures.

*people more skilled than I will soon be on to correct my language and give better advice.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 07:40 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Are there any red wires in the box ? Tough to see with the paint.

Since the units in your ceiling are separate units.... it would be most likely that the wiring is not there to make the change you want.

I'm thinking you may need to open the light junction box and tell us what colors you see there.

You can ignore green/bare wires in the discussion at this point.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 07:49 PM
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Michael and PJ, thanks for the quick responses. I don't see any red wires in the box, only black and white. There are two bundles at the back of the box that are nutted together: one is bare copper and one is white, four wires each. Not sure if that is of any use.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 08:00 PM
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I don't see any red wires in the box, only black and white.
That tells us that, in all likelihood, you have one 2-conductor cable connecting the switch box to the ceiling outlet. If so, you don't have enough conductors available to control the light and the fan separately from this box.

You can check the wire colors in the ceiling, as PJ suggested, to verify this.

There are two bundles at the back of the box that are nutted together: one is bare copper and one is white, four wires each. Not sure if that is of any use.
It confirms the original conclusion.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 09:02 PM
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Okay thanks Nashkat, I will have to live with one switch then. The good news is that this is in a half-bath off the kitchen, so everyone will want the fan on anyway. And the main goal is to get rid of the motion sensor, which helpfully shuts off the lights while people are sitting on the toilet.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 09:33 PM
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Ahhhh....yes. The motion sensor sees no movement and shuts off the lights. I was working in a theater last week and had that happen. The sensor was in the outer dressing room and not in the rest room. As I was sitting there contemplating the universe the lights shut off after 5 minutes. Thankfully I had my cell phone with bright back light with me.

Your sensor in a small bathroom shouldn't shut off if anybody is in there. Maybe it's not set sensitive enough.
 
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Old 05-19-13, 10:02 PM
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Your sensor in a small bathroom shouldn't shut off if anybody is in there. Maybe it's not set sensitive enough.
This is a good point. If you want to replace it anyway, I'll suggest that you install a timer rather than a standard switch.
 
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