Wiring Instructions for Wiring One Switch to Control Two Lights
By Mark J. Donovan
|A common residential wiring circuit found in many homes is two lights controlled from one switch. There are a variety of ways to wire this type of circuit, however I will focus on the case where power is fed from the main circuit panel into the single pole switch electrical box.
Warning – Household electricity can injure and even kill you if you come in contact with it. It is imperative that power be first turned off at the circuit breaker, and then tested at the switch and light fixtures to make sure they are indeed off prior to performing any electrical work on them.
Typically either 14-2 or 12-2 Romex cable is used in these types of circuits. 14-2 Romex cable is used for 15 amp circuits and 12-2 Romex cable is used for 20 amp circuits.
Roughing in the Electrical Wiring
To rough in a circuit where two lights are controlled from one switch a Romex cable should first be fed from the panel into the light switch electrical box. This is your feed cable. A second Romex cable should be fed from the light switch to one of the light electrical boxes.
A third Romex cable should be fed between the two light electrical boxes.
|Wiring up the Switch Electrical Box
Connect the black wire from the feed cable to the brass screw on the single pole light switch.
Connect the black wire coming from the light electrical box to the silver screw on the single pole light switch.
Use a wire nut to connect the two white wires (return lines) together.
Two Lights Operated off One Switch
Finally, twist the two bare ground wires together using a “Greeny” wire nut. Note that one of the wires should protrude out the end of the “Greeny”. Fasten this bare ground wire to the green screw on the switch. Make sure that when attaching wires to screws that the wires are bent into a curved shape that are mounted in a clockwise position around the screws.
Wiring up the First Light Electrical Box
Using a wire nut, twist and connect the black wires from the two Romex cables together, along with a 5-6” pig tail (using just a length of black shielded wire extracted from a small length of spare Romex cable).
Attach the black pigtail to one side of the light circuit. (Note that the pig tail may not be necessary if you are directly wiring in a light fixture. In this particular situation the black light fixture wire should be twisted and connected together, via a wire nut, with the two black wires associated with the Romex cables.)
Repeat the process for the White wires (return wires). Using a wire nut, twist and connect the white wires from the two Romex cables together, along with a 5-6” pig tail (using just a length of white shielded wire extracted from a small length of spare Romex cable).
Attach the white pigtail wire to the other side of the light circuit. (Note that the white wire pig tail may not be necessary if you are directly wiring in a light fixture. In this particular situation the white light fixture wire should be twisted and connected together, via a wire nut, with the two white wires associated with the Romex cables.)
Once the electrical boxes and light fixtures have been wired up, fasten them into their respective electrical boxes and attach the switch cover plate to the electrical switch box.
Finally, install light bulbs into the light fixtures and then turn the power on to the new light circuit at the main circuit panel.
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