Recessed Lights Installed, Switch Works but bulbs are DIM


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Old 10-03-13, 12:43 PM
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Recessed Lights Installed, Switch Works but bulbs are DIM

Hello everybody!

So I just installed 4 recessed lights in our downstairs bathroom. Originally, there was a single light on a single switch...just not enough light for the room.

Well, I figured this was a simple enough fix, but it's not turning out that way. I've now got the switch to work, but the bulbs are way way too dim. (And in the process of wiring these yesterday, I know they burn at 100%. Super bright. It's just now that the switch is working, the bulbs are dim.)

Nothing special...no LED, no dimmer, power went to the light box first.

Attached is my exact wiring diagram of what I did to get the switch to work. I'm guessing (hoping!) this is an easy fix and I'm guessing these open wires (where the red arrows are) have something to do with it.

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Thank you all for the help!
Mike in Colorado
 
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Old 10-03-13, 12:52 PM
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You have it series instead of parallel.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 12:52 PM
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I may be wrong, but it appears that you have wired the lights in series rather than a parallel circuit. That would definitely account for the dim lights.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 01:12 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Attached is my exact wiring diagram of what I did to get the switch to work. I'm guessing (hoping!) this is an easy fix and I'm guessing these open wires (where the red arrows are) have something to do with it.
It should be pretty easy and yes, those open wires have something to do with it - in fact, everything. By using only one wire between the lights, you wired them in series. That would make all of the lamps together put out about as much as one lamp should by itself.

AC electrical devices need to be wired in parallel, with both hot and neutral connected to each one. Here's what you need to do to fix your installation:

At the first light fixture, where the power and the cable to the switch both come in, tag the white wire in the switch cable with electrical tape or permanent marker. You can use black or red or any color except green or gray. Splice that tagged white wire to the black wire coming from your panel.

That will leave you with a black hot wire from the switch and a white neutral wire from the panel. Connect those two wires, both wires in the cable going to the second fixture and the two fixture wires together color-to-color, so that you have one splice with three black wires and one with three white wires.

Do the same at the second and third fixtures. At the last fixture you will only need to splice two blacks and two whites together.

There should be no wires or cables that go directly from the first fixture to the last one. All cables need to enter the boxes with their jacket intact, and be secured at the entry point. They also need to be supported within one foot of each box and at intervals of no more that 4' between boxes.

Pull the switch put of its box and tag the white wire going to it the same way you tagged it at the first fixture.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 01:52 PM
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Thanks everybody.

Nashkat1....you hear that??
Connect those two wires, both wires in the cable going to the second fixture and the two fixture wires together color-to-color, so that you have one splice with three black wires and one with three white wires.
It's that sentence going completely over my head. Can you post a pic of what you mean? I learn better visually. Not sure how you come up with a splice with 3 black and 3 white wires.

I've also got Wiring Simplified so I'll go look there too.

Thanks so much for the help!

Mikw
 
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Old 10-03-13, 02:15 PM
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Does this help?

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Here is another more complicated way.

 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-03-13 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 10-03-13, 02:37 PM
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Can you post a pic of what you mean?
No. I regret that I wasn't as clear as I would like to have been. I'll tey again.

Not sure how you come up with a splice with 3 black and 3 white wires.
I didn't and you don't. At the box where the power cable, the switch cable and the cable for the second fixture all come together, you'll wind up with three splices:
  1. The black feed wire to the tagged white switch wire,
  2. The three remaining black wires, and
  3. The three remaining white wires.
The black wires are carrying ungrounded potential - they're the "hot wires." The white wires are carrying grounded potential. They're the "neutral wires." Every AC electrical must be connected directly to hot and neutral so, at each fixture, you splice the incoming hot, the hot going to the next fixture and the hot feeder for the fixture together. Then you do the same with the three white neutrals. Except there's no cable feeding out from the last box.

I have a question: Could you replace the cable between the first fixture and the switch? Or could you bring the power from the panel into the switch box instead of one of the fixture boxes?
 
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Old 10-03-13, 02:50 PM
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Look at my three diagrams in my post above Nash's. The first is the best way to do it.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-03-13 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 10-03-13, 03:24 PM
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I have a question: Could you replace the cable between the first fixture and the switch? Or could you bring the power from the panel into the switch box instead of one of the fixture boxes?
Re: replace the cable between the first fixture and...
Unfortunately no. But when you say "first fixture" is that what is labeled #1 in my diagram? Or the one that's closest to the source and switch (labeled #4 in the diagram)?

Re: Bring the power from the panel...
No on that as well.

Thanks everyone! And yes, Ray, that helps a ton.

Question though: does it matter what order I wire all the cans?? I heard you're supposed to start with the final, or furthest one away and work your way back. Does it matter?

I'm gonna start re-working the circuits. Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed!
 
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Old 10-03-13, 03:54 PM
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when you say "first fixture" is that what is labeled #1 in my diagram? Or the one that's closest to the source and switch (labeled #4 in the diagram)?
If you want to follow Ray's second diagram, you need to have one fixture where you have three 2-conductor cables coming in. That's
Originally Posted by Nashkat1
the box [or fixture] where the power cable, the switch cable and the cable for the second fixture all come together
That's what I called "the first box." It doesn't have anything to do with the order you numbered them in.

If you don't do that you'll have to follow his third diagram.

Re: replace the cable between the first fixture and...
Unfortunately no
Re: Bring the power from the panel...
No on that as well.
You won't have a neutral in the switch box then. Too bad. That's a requirement added in the 2011 NEC code cycle to allow some timers and other controls that require a neutral to be installed.

Question though: does it matter what order I wire all the cans?? I heard you're supposed to start with the final, or furthest one away and work your way back. Does it matter?
Nope. The electricity doesn't care. Someone may have recommended that as a way to minimize cable lengths.
 
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Old 10-03-13, 04:52 PM
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To meet 2011 code in the second and third diagrams use three conductor cable for the switch loop.Black will carry power to the switch. Red will carry power from the switch and white to white at light; capped at the switch.
 
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Old 10-08-13, 03:41 PM
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Hey everyone!

Thanks for all the help....yes, it was wired as a Serial Circuit and needed to be converted to a Parallel!

Works like an absolute charm! Thanks again.

Mike in Colorado
 
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Old 10-08-13, 04:29 PM
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Glad you got it. Thanks for letting us know.
 
 

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