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Wiring Done Right - Residential Wiring - The Right Way

Residential Wiring -  The Right Way!

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Animated Fan

Fan / Light Combination Switch Wiring

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Switch Power at Switch

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power at switch

power at switch

Connections Instructions:
(as depicted in the diagrams above)

At the Fixture box...

One  cable entering this box coming from switch.

* a) connect the white wire coming from switch to the fixture grounded conductor [neutral] of fixture.
* b) connect the black wire coming from switch to the switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from light (shown as black in diagram)
* c) connect red wire coming from switch to the switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from fan (shown as red in diagram)
* d) please see under important notes in regards to the equipment grounding conductor (bare wire).

At switch box...

Two cables entering this box, one coming from fixture, and one is the 'circuit power supply cable'.

* a) using an insulated wire nut connect / join the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire from the 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) connect the black wire coming from fixture to the one of the main screw of one of the switches (this will switch the light of the fan/light combo fixture).
* c) connect the red wire coming from fixture to the one of the main screws of the other switch (this will switch the fan of the fan/light combo fixture).
* d) using an insulated wire nut connect / join the black wire coming from 'circuit power supply' cable + two black wires going to the remaining main screw of both switches.
* e) please see under important notes in regards to the equipment grounding conductor (bare wire).

Important Notes:

By electrical codes you MUST have at least 6 inches of wire in the electrical box itself, and also the wire must be able to reach at least 3 inches outside the box, it can fail an electrical inspection if the required min. wire length is not met.  You may have the wires a bit longer (within reason) but they cannot be shorter. Also see the note on box fill further down in this article.

You are allowed to re-designate a white wire  to be used as a hot (ungrounded conductor) in switch circuits but in those cases where a white wire is used in this manner, you must wrap a piece of black electrical tape around that white wire inside the box  to signify that is being used as an ungrounded (hot) conductor.

You cannot re-designate a white wire that is actually connected to the light fixture itself. At the fixture itself, the white wire must be the grounded conductor (neutral) coming from the circuit power supply cable. 

In the configuration depicted on this page, there is no re-designated white wires therefore NO black tape on the ends of that wire.

Use wire nuts of the correct size to join wires together. For fan / light combination fixtures, most likely it will have wire connections, the white wire is the grounded conductor (neutral), any green wires are equipment grounding conductors, then there will be two other wires one will be the switched ungrounded conductor (hot) for the light, and one will be the switched ungrounded conductor (hot) for the fan. If you are confused please post to our forums for further clarification.

What is not shown in the drawings to avoid confusion, is that each wire cable also has a bare equipment grounding wire included. This wire is connected to a grounding screw in each electrical box (if the box is metal),  joined either through the grounding screws in the box itself or via a wire nut to the bare wire of the next cable entering / exiting the box, it is also connected to any grounding screw (if there is one) on the switch itself, as well as any grounding screw at the fixture (green wires that attach to the fixture are grounds).  Now if using a plastic box, it is made of a material that is non conductive, however some plastic boxes have a metal strip inside that can still be used to connect equipment grounding wires, in the event that it does not use wire nuts to join the bare grounding wires together. The equipment grounding wire (bare in most cables) must be electrical conductively joined throughout the circuit.  Green wires are also equipment grounding conductors.

If there is an equipment grounding screw on the switch it may be green in color and be separated away from the main connections of the switch and likely part of the metal frame that is also part of the mounting structure of the switch.


Extensions to this Switch circuit...

Be Aware that there is a limit by code on how many wires can be in a given size electrical box, when adding more wires to the same box you may have to install a larger and / or deeper box to allow space for more wires coming and out of the box.

Here is an article / explanation in regards to box fill calculations 'Box Fill Calculation'

The instructions here are based on the fact that the circuit has already been wired to the configuration shown in this article and we are now making the wiring changes for onward power.

From the switch locations....

Both onward switched power and always on power is available at the switch location.
(showing bellow the fixture portion of the circuit)

Option 1 - Onward switched power controlled from light switch

Extending Circuit with switched power from light switch

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from the 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from switch (that switches the light) + the black wire coming from fixture.

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from light switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 2 - Onward switched power controlled from fan switch

Extending Circuit with switched power from fan switch

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the red wire coming from switch (that switches the fan) + the red wire coming from fixture.

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from fan switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 3 - Two onward switched power controlled from both switches.

Extending Circuit with switched power from light and fan switch

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (two switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from switch (that switches the light) + the black wire coming from fixture.
* c) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the red wire of onward cable  + the red wire coming from switch (that switches the fan) + the red wire coming from fixture.

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black -  switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from light switch.
Red - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from fan switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 4 - Onward always on power and Onward switched power controlled from light switch.

Extending Circuit with always on and switched power from light switch

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on & switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from the 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from 'circuit power supply' cable + two black wires going to one main screw of both switches.
* c) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the red wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from switch (that switches the light) + the black wire coming from fixture.

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black -  ungrounded conductor (hot - always on).
Red - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from light switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 5 - Onward always on power and Onward switched power controlled from fan switch.

Extending Circuit with always on and switched power from fan switch

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on & switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from the 'circuit power supply' cable + two black wires going to one main screw of both switches.
* c) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the red wire of onward cable  + the red wire coming from switch (that switches the fan) + the red wire coming from fixture.

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black -  ungrounded conductor (hot - always on).
Red - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from fan switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 6 - Onward always on power only

Extending Circuit with always on power from switch box

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the switch electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (always on)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from fixture + the white wire coming from the 'circuit power supply' cable.
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from 'circuit power supply cable' + two black wires going to one main screw of both switches.

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black -  ungrounded conductor (hot - always on).
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

From the fixture location...

Only switched power is available at the fixture location.
(showing bellow the fixture portion of the circuit)

Option 1 - Onward switched power controlled from light switch

Extending Circuit with switched power (light switch) from fixture

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the fixture electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from switch + the white wire connected to fixture (grounded conductor [neutral])
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable  + the black wire coming from switch+ the black wire connected to fixture (for light - switched ungrounded conductor [hot])

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from light switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 2 - Onward switched power controlled from fan switch

Extending Circuit with switched power (fan switch) from fixture

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the fixture electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from switch + the white wire connected to fixture (grounded conductor [neutral])
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the red wire of onward cable  + the red wire coming from switch + the red wire connected to fixture (for fan - switched ungrounded conductor [hot])

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from fan switch
White - grounded conductor (neutral).

**************************************

Option 3 - Two onward switched power from both switches.

Extending Circuit with switched power (light and fan switch) from fixture

Not shown in the diagram but the onward cable also has a bare wire (equipment grounding conductor) that also must be connected to all the other bare wires at the fixture electrical box.

Connection Instructions for onward cable (two switched)
(only the changes to the wiring are described here)

* a) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the white wire of onward cable + the white wire coming from switch + the white wire connected to fixture (grounded conductor [neutral])
* b) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the red wire of onward cable  + the red wire coming from switch + the red wire connected to fixture (for fan - switched ungrounded conductor [hot])
* c) Using an insulated wire nut, attach / join - the black wire of onward cable + the black wire coming from switch + the black wire connected to fixture (for light - switched ungrounded conductor [hot])

Identification of wires of onward wire cable...

Black - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from light switch.
Red - switched ungrounded conductor (hot) from fan switch.
White - grounded conductor (neutral).


Foreign Users:

The colors of the wires depicted are based on the standards and code requirements / configuration in the United States and Canada. If you are viewing this site from a foreign country, your wiring standards and color of wires may be different but the principal and sequence of wiring will still remain the same. Therefore the information in this article may still be of use to you regardless of what country you may be in. Just translate the colors used here to the color of wires used in your country in regards to ungrounded (hot) conductors  / grounded conductors (neutral) and equipment grounding conductors as well know applicable code requirements in your country.


By: Donald Kerr

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