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Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1425
Experience:  Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer
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I have a closet light switch that has 3 separate bundles of

Customer Question

I have a closet light switch that has 3 separate bundles of 12-2 going to it.
2 bundles in the top and a single 12-2 bundle in the bottom.. I'm really confused here
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Dan, welcome to

So, was there a switch connected to these wires? Is there a light mounted & wired in the closet? Do you have a multimeter?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
there is a switch contacted to the wires and the closet light is mounted in the ceiling. Can I send u a picture of it??
I live in a double wide and they have the cheapest switches that I've ever seen..
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Yes, please send a picture. I am guessing the closet light does not work

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No it does work. I have a his and hers walk in closet. It only has one light in the center, but the switch is on my side. So if my wife wants light, she has to go to my side turn light on, then go back in her door, and visa versa to turn it off. I was looking into installing 2 3 ways switches but can't figure at this single pole switch set up??
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Thanks, that's the "standard" for mobile homes unfortunately. I recommend that you purchase a one gang cut-in box, aka old work box. They look like this (see link)

You will also need a single-pole switch and a matching 1-gang switch plate.

VERY IMPORTANT - Before disconnecting the three cables from the existing switch identify the single cable by marking it with a sharpie or with electrical tape. This should be the table that goes to the light fixture.

Carefully cut the drywall to fit the new box in. Turn off power to this circuit which probably means you're going to need a flashlight because you will be in the dark. More to follow...

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm guess my concern is:
That both 12-2 coming in together!!!
I was gonna buy some 14-3 to wire up my new 3 way switches. But I was only expecting one 12-2 coming in.. Not 2??
So how do I deal with this..??
I'm assuming that one of these are the power leads and the other is pigtailing off of it to power something else.. But what I can figure out is what it is powering?? And why don't if shut the power off to the others when I turn my closet switch off??
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Once the drywall is properly cut for the new box, insert all 3 cables into it with the one that you marked in an opening by itself, the other two in another opening together. All three cables should enter the same end of the box. Strip app 6 inches of the outer jacket from each cable being careful not to damage the insulation on each conductor. Connect all of the bare wires with a wire nut including a "pigtail" that will connect to the green screw on the switch. Connect all of the whites together with a wire nut, they do not connect to anything else. Connect the two blacks that are in the same box entry together with a black pigtail. The black pigtail connects to one terminal of the single pole switch, it does not matter which terminal. This leaves a single black wire - from the cable in the single entry, it connects to the other terminal on the switch. Carefully fold all of this into the box paying particular attention that the bare ground wire does not touch either of the terminals on the switch. Also being careful not to damage the drywall as you install the switch & wiring. Restore power & pat yourself on the back.

Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

So, you added a switch at another location & some three wire with ground between the two? Is that correct? If so, you are not likely to fit all of this in to the single gang box. This would also invalidate much of the instructions above. Let me know and we can continue.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I understand your above instructions.
The reason I pulled out the switch was because I'm wanting to( haven't yet) install 2. 3 way switches in this closet. One here and one on the other side so my wife can turn in and off the light in the center from her side. Just got confused when I seen all these wires coming into this single pole switch. But if I follow your above instructions, wire the two blacks together with a pigtail, and the two neutrals together with a pigtail then I'm basically back to one set of wire coming in and one going out right??
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

We can still get this done if you are changing to two 3-ways. We can also wire it so as not to turn off the rest of the circuit. Instead of a single-gang box I recommend that you use a two-gang to have enough room to accommodate all of the cables at this location. In the end, the second gang at this location would have a spare, unused switch. Do you have the 3-wire cable installed from this existing switch location to the location of the other switch?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, the 3 way switches confuse me as well.
No I haven't will do it tomorrow..
I'm going to buy 14-3, wire. 2 3way switches, 1 single remodel box and faceplate, and one double remodel box and faceplate. Now just need a step by step instructions on how to do it all. ??
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

That's all three whites (neutrals) together at this location. Yes, get to this point with all of the aforementioned instructions then it's simple to wire the 3-wire cable in for the other 3-way switch. Obviously you will need 2 each 3-way switches. Get all of this done and let me know, then we can finish up, thanks. (it's late here, will check for new replies in the morning ).

Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Again, follow the former instructions (they are in fact valid) then it's simple to add the 3-wire, just get it installed between both switches and we will continue tomorrow, thank you Dan.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. It's late here too. Have Dr appointment in the am. So probably be tomorrow evening before I get back with u. Is tha ok??
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Yes tomorrow evening is good, thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you..... Talk to u then
Expert:  ProGrade replied 1 year ago.

Dan, just checking in to see how it's going. Let me know when you are ready to continue. Thanks

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