Tap wall switch for outlets to add overhead light?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by snorp, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. snorp

    snorp DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Herndon Va
    30 year old house w/wall switch for power outlets. Am adding an overhead light and a switch for it.

    Can I tap the incoming power to the existing switch and run to another switch to provide power for the new overhead light? This would set up two parallel circuits - yes? That's okay?
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    We cannot see exactly what you are working with so it is not simple to advise.

    You will need power, neutral, and ground wires to install a new light and switch. Depending on how the existing circuit is wired, those things might or might not be available in an existing switch box.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If there is a neutral available in the box, then you can use a "tandem" switch to control both lights using a single "hot" feed, but if the switch is going to be "remote" from the existing one, then you can use almost any source of power, including the existing switch, to connect the switch to it.
  4. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

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    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    So let me get this straight, you aren't sure if there is a power in the box that switches a light?
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Location:
    New England
    Power, certainly, neutral, maybe...need both, along with a valid ground.
  6. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Exactly. Switches at the end of a run often do not have a neutral in the box.

    I recently read that the new code cycle no longer allows this practice. The sparkies will have to run an extra conductor if the switch is at the end of the run.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  7. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

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    Location:
    Canada
    I don't see how this is so complicated.

    If you don't already have neutral in the box, you replace the 14/2 w/ 14/3... done.
  8. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    You make a lot of assumptions, including that the OP has the knowledge, skills, and ability to understand and follow through with what is being posted.

    He has told us nothing except for the fact that there is a switch on the wall and he wants to install a light on the ceiling.

    Instead of being a pain in the butt, why not try being helpful?
    You are good at one, but not so good at the other.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2011
  9. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Being helpful in the case of telling someone how to mess with the wiring in their house is probably not wise.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,309
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; The sparkies will have to run an extra conductor if the switch is at the end of the run.

    Now WHAT possible purpose would having a "dead" neutral wire in a switch box serve? Would that also apply to a "three way switch" at the end of a run which NEVER has a constant "hot" wire to it, or do they have to run TWO "future" conductors to make it easier for DIYers to modify their systems?
  11. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,529
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Every switch is now required to have a neutral for occupancy sensors and remote switching devices. In the past these devices would use the EGC or allow small amounts of current to flow through the fixture in order to have a continuous path for them to work.

    It became such a problem with buildings that had several of these devices that people was being hurt that the new requirement to install a neutral to every switch was mandated.
  12. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,239
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    I don't own a code book, so I cannot comment on the reasoning.

    I suspect that it may also be in relation to all the new light bulbs on the market which will not work with a standard dimmer switch, as the electronic dimmers require a neutral.

    The problem is also often run into when one wants to replace a standard switch with a timer or a lighted switch requiring a neutral.
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