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Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
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How do you wire multiple lights and switches so each switch

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How do you wire multiple lights and switches so each switch independently operates it respective set of lights on a single circuit?
Hi, how did you run the wiring (from your description, I think you're saying you ran a wire from switch1 to light1, then a wire from light1 to the next switch, is this correct)? Is each switch in a different box?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Hi Mike;


yes, you are correct. Also, each switch is in its own box. I would also mention that this is not where the circuit will end. I need to to 3 more sets of lights down the line. I'm thinking that once I know how to do this, it is the same idea for the remaining sets of lights?

Ok... I was afraid of that. Unfortunately it's not going to work the way things are now so hopefully it's not going to be too difficult for you to re-run some wires. You'll need to run a wire from switch box to switch to switch box, and then a wire from each switch to its respective light fixture. In each switch box, you'll tie the white wires together and cap them with a wire nut. Then tie the black wire coming in, and the black wire going out (power) together and connect a pigtail/lead from those two wires to one screw on the switch. Then the black wire going to the light fixture connects to the other screw on the switch. The last switch will just have two black wires, so you'll just connect one to each screw on the switch. It doesn't matter which wire goes to which screw, the switch is only "making" or "breaking" the connection. You just need to make sure you have the black wire going to the light fixture separate, and the other two black wires tied together.

Let me know if you need anymore help.



Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I was trying to do what you were advising and I think I may need to start over so this goes a little smoother. Let me see if I get what you're saying.


First off, I'm using 14/2 NM wire on an AFCI breaker (not sure if this matters to you).


I run the 3 wires off the service panel into switch box 1. Inside switch box 1, I also run wire out from it to light fixture 1. The white wires in switch box 1 coming in and going out get tied together. Do I tie the ground wires together w/pgtail and attach that to the ground screw on the switch? For the black wires, I tie them together with a pigtail and attach to the screw on the switch. Now, the wires coming out get attached to the light fixture 1; black to black, white to white and ground to ground.


I get more confused at the next part. Do I just run a single black wire from the other terminal on switch 1 to switch 2? Or, am I running another 3 wires from switch box 1, attaching the black to the free terminal, and tying the 3rd white wire to the other white wires and attaching the 3rd ground wire to the other ground wires?

I'll throw a diagram together real quick and post here to make it easier for you... it may not take me that long, but check back in about 15 minutes to allow me enough time.
Take a look at this:

The black wire that is coming from the panel and going from switch to switch get tied together and a pigtail is connected to one screw on the switch. The black wire going to the light fixture connects to the other screw by itself. All white wires get tied together in each box. You are correct in that the grounds would all be tied together with a pigtail that connects to the green ground screw on the switch. Let me know if still have questions.



Edited by Mike Pettinato on 4/9/2010 at 4:15 AM EST
Oops looks like the diagram didn't make it...

Try this link: Link to diagram

Edited by Mike Pettinato on 4/9/2010 at 4:17 AM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I think I get it now, but wanted to ask another question to be sure. So for the white wire coming in to the switch box, it would be tied to the white wire coming out to the next switch box, and also another white wire that goes to the light fixture?
You got it! All whites tie together in each switch box, but do NOT connect to the switch in any case (except for completely different wiring methods).

Also, make sure that you connect the white wire to the arc fault breaker, and then the white pigtail that is on the breaker connects to the neutral bar in the panel (this is another area of confusion for some).

Edited by Mike Pettinato on 4/9/2010 at 4:29 AM EST
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I think I got what I need. I've been finishing the basement and have all the electrical done, except the lighting. I'll give this a try tomorrow and hopefully we'll have some light down there by the evening.

Have a good one!
No problem... glad to help! Keep us in mind should you need help in the future. There's almost always someone online here (24 hrs a day) willing to help.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Shoot. One more thing. The lights have a ground wire connection too. Do I take the ground going into the switch box 1, and connect it to the ground for switch box 2, as well as a ground wire for light fixture 1, and then pigtail those so it can be mounted on the ground screw of the switch in box 1?

Sorry I didn't think to ask this already.
Yes... tie all grounds together and connect a pigtail to the ground screw on the switch. Do the same thing at each switch.

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