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Locating Power for New Switch Wiring


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Locate a Power Source for a New Light Switch: Why an Existing Light Switch Might Not Work as a Power Source.


Light Switch Wiring

Electrical Question: I have an existing switch that turns on the light in the area above the garage on a two story house.

  • I want to tie into the power so I can add two additional items, a ceiling fan and an one more light.
  • I want to put both of these on separate switches so they can be turn on and off.
  • I would like to grab the power from the existing switch that works.
  • I wired the new light and thought I could just jump a wire from the existing switch and all would work, but it does not.
  • How do I get power to the new switch from the existing?

This electrical question came from: Frank, a Homeowner from Sylvania, Ohio.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your Electrical Wiring Question Frank.

How to Locate a Power Source for a New Light Switch

Application: Branch Circuit Wiring for additional Lighting Fixtures.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor..
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a Voltage Tester, additional tools for the specific branch circuit wiring method.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and work with the circuit wiring.
Precaution: Identify the power source circuit at the panel, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Modifying or installing additional electrical wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Why a Light Switch Might Not Work for a Power Source

  • When locating power for additional light fixtures, you must understand that not all switch boxes have a neutral wire.
  • If the 120 volt power source of both the hot and neutral does not originate at the switch box then the source of the power for the existing light will need to be located.
  • Once the power source has been located a cable will need to be installed from that location to the location of the new light switch.
  • A typical source of power would be from an existing wall outlet in the same area or room.

More about Electrical Wiring for Switches

For more information about Light Switch Wiring
Light Switch Wiring
Light Switch Wiring
Wiring a Light Switch – Diagram 1
Fully explained pictures and wiring diagrams about wiring light switches describing the most common switches starting with photo diagram 1.


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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.

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