off-center electrical box and light

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by marsal, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. marsal

    marsal New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Hi...I recently purchased a bathroom light to place above my medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I bought it because it was the same length as the top of the med cab. However, the round 4 " electrical box in the wall is off-center by about 1 1/2". The the back of the light housing is open and the housing is made to screw into the cross bar that was supplied with the light. So the light ends up being off-center after it is installed. The electrical box is off-center to the right and the stud that it is nailed to is on it's left...so it can't be moved to the left to center it. Is there a simple way that I can center this light safely without violating code?
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    If it's like the light bars above my vanities, it is wide enough to cover the 4" electrical box entirely. If that's the case, just drill new holes in the back of the light bar to match up with the box -- i.e., drill a new set of holes just like the old ones, only 1 1/2" to the right.
  3. marsal

    marsal New Member

    Messages:
    3
    only 1/2" left on bar, and its on a diagonal

    thanks for your reply. I have posted some photos that can better illustrate the situation. I don't really have an extra 1 1/2" left on cross bar to drill new holes. Any suggestions? The housing for light is just barely bigger than 4" box....does box have to be covered by housing?

    Attached Files:

  4. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Yes, it does have to cover it.

    With that fixture, on that box, you're SOL.

    Look for Molo's thread with a similar situation. If you get a wider fixture, where the back is longer, then you could center it while covering the box.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Assuming there's only one cable coming in, you don't need a deep box. You could tear that one out, notch the stud and use a pancake box centered where you want it anchored to the stud you just notched out, then patch the drywall. That's assuming you have enough room to install a clamp for the supply wire through one of the knockouts.

    It looks like the back of the lamp may be deep enough to put a pancake box on the surface rather than recessing it; you'd want to verify you can tighten the light fixture down so it is flush with the wall first though.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Biggest issue will be making sure there's enough cable available to bring it into the box and have enough wire left to make the connections, but it's a dandy project to exercise your demolition, carpentry, drywall patching, and paint matching skills. And electrical, of course, but that's nothing compared to the rest :) .
  7. marsal

    marsal New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Thanks for the replies and suggestions everyone. I may try to find a different fixture the same width first...with a wider box. That seems to be the least painless and costly. Otherwise, I guess I will get to exercise my very limited trade skills.
  8. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    C'mon, guys - with the price of a light bar fixture what it is, would you really go through all that? Or just get a wider-based light bar?


    edit: whoops - the op beat me to it. Marsal - the box stores can hook you up for about 30$. You might still have to drill a hole in the back, but it ought to be pretty straightforward.
  9. ApolloRon

    ApolloRon New Member

    Messages:
    2
    offset box

    Newbee here but a licensed home improvement contractor since 1966 in two states.
    Always looking to add to my knowledge and this site seems to be very giving of experience and information to all. Professionals and DIYs.
    Thanks to Terry and all involved.

    Perhaps I can suggest to Marsal. There is a 4" plastic electrical box made with a cut out that offsets the enter nipple more toward the joist.
    Commonly used for hanging fans when a joist falls center of a dining room table. Should work for a conflicting stud as well.

    Ron
  10. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

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    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Also just to mention. It is HIGHLY likely that if that convenience receptacle is wired on that light it will be illegal and quite unsafe if that box is not GFI protected, which I doubt it is.

    I would leave it unconnected and cut the wires off tight.
  11. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Good point. He could also swap the breaker for a gfi breaker, couldn't he?

    A little pricey, but I know I'd be a dead man if my wife couldn't plug her hair drier anywhere...
  12. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    You could install the GFI breaker, but I'll bet he'd get caught by 210.11(C)(3), which raises a question I've always had in the back of my mind: How much of a change in a home can you make before the NEC nazis swoop down? I can understand that new construction would require pretty strict adherence to current code, but it seems to me that "as close as is reasonable" or at least "better than it was" should apply if you change a light fixture or make any other minor change in a home. In Marsal's case, if he were to add a GFI breaker to protect that light-mounted receptacle, I would think any reasonable AHJ would love him for it, even if the same circuit supplied outlets in non-bathrooms, which is likely the case.
  13. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    North Carolina
    Yea, what Petey said again and again it needs saying. Throw that piece of junk in the trash and get a real light.

    [​IMG]
  14. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

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    Location:
    NY State, USA
    The thing is that light is no replacement for a real GFI receptacle and circuit.
    By using that light you ARE adding a receptacle to the bathroom and need to follow code.

    Mikey, the NEC "Nazis" do not swoop. They are invited. Until you request an inspection you are following your conscience.



    I have to also comment. I hate the term "Code Nazi", or "NEC Nazi", etc. I know it has become somewhat of a slang term but it is not a real great choice.
    There is really not much in this world that offends me. Considering I am a Democrat I am NOT thin skinned like most Liberals are. The word Nazi does offend me though.
    My mother and Grandparents were Nazis, and NO, not the kind you immediately think of when you hear that word. Not the kind the movies and TV show you.
    99.9% of this country has NO idea what most Nazis were like.

    OK. Rant over.
  15. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

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    Yes what Petey just said, amen
  16. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Marsal,
    I suggest that you make this a project that you will want to show your friends and family.

    1. Install a box so that the light can be centered over the cabinet. It appears to be off center in the first picture. Get a light without a receptacle.

    2. Install a second box at a convenient height to one side of the cabinet and install a GFCI outlet in it. You can make it a double and put the switch for the light in the same box. It is pretty easy to install an "old work" box.
  17. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Not to highjack the thread, but... could some of you guys check that kitchen gfi thread? I think it needs some pro sparky attention.
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