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How to Run Two Lights From One Switch

This article addresses how to run two lights from one switch.  This common question comes from a do-it-yourselfer working on his garage wiring who required some assistance wiring a circuit in his garage so that he could control two lights with one switch.


Q: I am going to build a new garage and am planning my electrical wiring.

What my plan will be is to wire a circuit to include the following:

- Run a #14 -2 wire from the sub panel box to a device box for a plug receptacle, then to a light box (octagon box), and then to another light box (octagon box) and finally to another two device boxes for plug receptacles.

What I want to do is have both lights work off the same switch.

I know that if I was to run a light switch to only one light I would connect the black wire from the switch via the light box (octagon box) directly onto the light fixture gold terminal and the white wire from the supply cable i.e.: (coming from the device box for the plug receptacle via the sub panel) to the silver terminal on the light holder.

The white wire that is connected to the switch will then connect with the black wire coming from the supply cable from the plug receptacle.

I realize now that the white wire at the switch is now (hot). I would also connect my ground wires to the switch box, octagon box, and device box.

My question is I want to run both lights off the same switch, so from this first light box that I just wired what wire cable do I use to go to the next  light box (, octagon box) and then to the next two device boxes for the plug receptacles?

Do  I use a three wire cable between the two lights ? Or do I have to run a three wire cable from the switch instead of a two wire cable?

From the second light to the next two plug boxes would I use # 14 two wire cable again? This is where I am lost.

I would appreciate your assistance in helping me out, Thanks.

Roger C.


A:
The quick answer here is this.

To wire this circuit in this manner, you will need to run a #14/3 between the two light boxes.

This will allow you to connect the first light as you described above, and to run this additional light from the same switch by utilizing the red conductor in the 3-wire as the “switched” conductor, and the black wire as the continuous hot wire.

Confused yet?  A picture is always worth a thousand words.  Refer to the following diagram for a visual.

NOTE:  The picture is a thumbnail.  To view it in full size – click on the diagram.


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  • James

    It would be nice if you showed an alternative diagram for someone adding a light to an existing circuit. In that situation, running 14-3 makes no sense, as the continuous hot wire isn’t necessary.

  • Adam Franz71

    I am trying to install a digital timer on my outside garage lights.  The timer has Black, White, Green and Red wires.  There is only One switch for the outside Garage lights and BOTH wires on the 15a 120v switch are Black which is unlike the diagram on this page.  The foyer lights and interior garage lights are also on this same circuit.  Is it possible to install the timer and if so how should I go about it.

    • Anonymous

      The circuit in this example is different that the situation you have.  You need to connect your timer as such.  Green to ground, the white wire on the timer to the neutral (white wires) splice that will be in the box, and the black wire on the timer to the hot conductor (one of the two on the existing switch), then the timer red wire to the black wire on the existing switch that is connected to the lights.

    • Anonymous

      The circuit in this example is different that the situation you have.  You need to connect your timer as such.  Green to ground, the white wire on the timer to the neutral (white wires) splice that will be in the box, and the black wire on the timer to the hot conductor (one of the two on the existing switch), then the timer red wire to the black wire on the existing switch that is connected to the lights.

      • Duane

        Hello, I have a similar situation however it is wired exactly as it is in the digram.  I would also like to connect a digital timer with the white, black, red and green wires for the device.  I believe I have tried all of the combinations of which none of them worked.  I have a feeling this timer will not work for this situation.  =( 

  • Joe

    What if I already buried a 14-2 between the 2 lights?  Can it still be done?  If so, please e-mail me at jmeyer@landerschools.org
    @landerschools:disqus 
    Thanks!

  • Tim

    I want to hook up 4 LED spotlights to one Leviton Decora Occupancy Sensor switch. The switch works for simply turning the lights on, but when I set it to auto, the lights stobe. The lights are set up as follows: Brown is +, Blue is -, Yellow/Green is ground. Switch: Black (hot), Red (load), Green Ground. Am I using the correct type of switch? Is there  an occupancy switch I should be using instead? What about the wiring? Is there a correct way to do this? Is using more than one light on one PIR going to work? 

  • Ironworker290

    power to light then to another light then to switch ??? My lights are dim ???

    • Campboom

      test with volt meter, sounds like you are in the same boat as I…. 60 volts..

      • Mike

        I had this problem. I was wired in series causing the lights to dim b/c each was acting as a resistor for the next light. I rewired them to parallel and the problem was fixed.

    • thebrain58

      this is what I am doing as well – power source @ light 1 to light 2 to switch. hope I can find a simpler diagram (without additional receptacles) and using 2 conductor wire only.

  • Jjackson224

    How do you wire 2 lights on 1 switch? When the switch is off, light A is on and B is off. When the switch is on, Light A is off and Light B is on.

    THANKS!

  • RMiguel54

    I think you need to check your wiring diagram-black wire should be all connected with the same color (black) and white same thing. On the diagram above the hot wire (black) was tap to a white wire going to the switch. ???????

  • re

    your diagram is messed up

  • chopper

    Power to light 1, then light 2 and then the switch. Is this so that if the circuit is broken from the power source to the light switch isn’t live? Is this for safety reasons?

  • http://twitter.com/westworks West Works Group Inc

    We have a scenario that matches the drawing above exactly, wiring detail and everything. What we would like to do, however, is run the last leg to a 3rd light rather than the receptacle. Obviously if we do it as drawn, the last light in the run will always stay on, as it will not have the bypass to the switch.

    Assuming we would changed the 14/2 for 14/3, how would the wiring to the new 3rd light at the end of the run now look? In other words, how would we wire that 3rd light so that the switch also turns it off with the other two lights.

    Thanks in advance!

  • george

    My neighbor ask me to help install new garage lights, so I said yes , he bought lights at Home Depot , the 4 bulb fixtures , he bought the 4-bulb t- 5 unit , my problem is he has 4 units that’s 16 bulbs an he wants to run them from one switch ? Is this ok or will the new lights be real dim !

    • Internetelectrician

      George. The 4-lamp T-5 units don’t draw allot of current. Check on the ballast or the fixture information for the FLA (full load amps) It will tell you somewhere on the label. The important thing is to not overload the circuit. You can have no more than 12 outlets (receptacles and lights) on a 15A circuit. If you have a known load, the rule is 80% of the circuit breaker (.08×15=12)
      Any switch will be rated at least 15A, so running through one switch to feed all 4 of these light fixtures won’t be a problem either.

  • Sean

    Trying to put up 2 lights on 1 switch in my attic and i wired exactly as the diagram shows and yet the lights don’t work, i have checked the wiring multiple times and everything is to par with the diagram. (and yes the bulbs work)

 

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