Switch to recess lighting - help with Romex

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by catldavis, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. catldavis

    catldavis Member

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    Sep 17, 2016
    Location:
    Florida
    Hello all, I need some help. I want to switch from two down lights to four recessed lights. I took the main light down (L1 in image below) and was meet with the wiring you see on the right. The second down light is turned on by the same two switches (S2) as the primary light. However, I'm not sure where the wiring is coming from (I'm assuming L1). Can anyone tell me what they make of this wiring (I had to input a link since I don't know how to insert an image)?:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1arNssLSBjlk14UV67FEBMs2gwfwyB-Oj/view?usp=sharing
     
  2. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

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    Mar 17, 2019
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Link says access denied. You can upload images if they are small enough, there's a paper clip icon in the post editor. You can also test your links for other people by looking at them yourself in an incognito/private browsing window.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
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  4. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Most of the time you drag and drop images on the post. If the files are too big you'll get a error. If they are too big I put them in a photo editor and reduce them. Above you put them in your google cloud drive and general you want that secure and protected. You can use other photo sites and link them. I use Flickr but it is not the easiest program to learn on. If you ever want to post a video, place it on YouTube or another site and link it to the post.
     
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    The "main light and primary light" has no meaning in wiring. As written is sounds that you have a 2 three way switches operating two lights. Google "three way switch wiring" and you find dozens of wiring diagrams. Also google "three way switch wiring with multiple lights" and more images will pop up. Of your two lights if only one of them has one set of wires in the junction box, that would be a good one to add two more light. The other light there will be wiring going in and out. Using a voltmeter or test light and disconnecting the wire nuts you can determine which lead provides the power. You can branch off one light or both to add the two additional lights.

    With three way switches, the many combinations are attributed to where the power comes from for the switches. Most of the time power from the breaker goes to one wall switch, sometimes the ceiling light box. Older homes (pre 1965 or so), power was brought to the light first and only a single pole switch was used. When three way switch was added the configuration with power from the ceiling was used. Newer home three way became very common and it is easier to bring power to the wall switches for wiring.

    Once you get the pictures post we all can provide help.
     
  6. catldavis

    catldavis Member

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    Sep 17, 2016
    Location:
    Florida
    Okay, please see if the attached image works. If not, here's an unrestricted link to the image.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. catldavis

    catldavis Member

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  8. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

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    Oct 28, 2009
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    My comments are only conjecture based on the limited information and only trying to make sense from your drawing. Based on this I recommend to get an electrician.

    A picture of the wiring might be better. The cable on the far left appears to be going to the second light. The other two are going to each switch, I think BUT, the white wire connecting to the black doesn't look right.

    Below is a typical wiring scheme for what I think your set up might be, and a second light should be wired off the BLK and WHT of the light fixture between the fixtures. It's only a WAG without more information. Below the WHT wires with black tap is a way to identify they are used as a traveler.
    upload_2021-4-15_9-44-39.gif
     
  9. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Nice drawing (the pasted in version was shrunk too much). Here's my educated guess (edit: and really the only possibility unless there was a complete disregard for the color conventions) on which cable is which in your box, from left to right:

    Left: outbound switched power to the other light, B = switched hot, W = neutral

    Middle: inbound travelers from primary switch [the switch box with the other end of this cable will have a cable providing constant power, plus possibly other cables]. W = neutral, B + R = travelers

    Right: outbound travelers to secondary switch [the switch box with the other end of the cable likely has no other cables in it]. W = switched hot, B + R = travelers.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
  10. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

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    P.S. The white wire from the right hand cable is supposed to be reidentified to a non-white, non-green color, e.g. with some colored electrical tape.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
  11. mikha'el

    mikha'el Member

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    Jan 27, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    Concur with the other guys here.

    Most electricians will try to avoid running travelers through multiple outlet boxes if possible, though it can save a little cable length if it's a big room.

    I always use 12/3 NM for 3-way switching vs. re-purposing two 12/2. No mystery/superfluous wires.
    Of course nowadays you can get wireless switches...
     
  12. catldavis

    catldavis Member

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    Sep 17, 2016
    Location:
    Florida
    Okay, was able to get in the attic and take a peek. So the 12/3 and 12/2 from light 1 (L1) goes to light 2 (L2). I didn't have the time to track the 12/3 coming out of light 2. Here's a schematic of what it appears like from the top:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/13hL0Ww3z29Mgq9elxcMG_DCx0zJO6eHd/view?usp=sharing

    Here's what the lights look like from the top:

    L1 - https://drive.google.com/file/d/14XM6RSX7rnA7zTB1onksG-4agzGNcwwo/view?usp=sharing

    L2 - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gXHv-Zqibtf-XgqNzzBM3CNU8A4UXUjX/view?usp=sharing

    So can I just remove the current lights, pull the Romex out of the boxes, make up the Romex again in boxes facing up in the attic (boxes that have covers) and use the 12/2 from L1 and run it to power the four new recessed lights?
     
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