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If you're wiring up a lighting circuit, where the power enters at the lighting outlet. According to the National Electrical Code, which wire should be "hot" and which should be "switched hot"?

Question in graphical form:

Graphical Representation of Question

Bonus points if you can reference relevant code section(s).

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Personally, I make black the always hot, and white with black tape the switched hot. –  BMitch Sep 13 '13 at 13:42

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It doesn't matter, it's in the past

In the old days (pre 2011 code adoption), the NEC did not specifiy the insulation color of the wires in a circuit like this. The only applicable code would have been (200.7(C)), which said that the normally grounded conductor had to be reidentified using approved means. So either white or black could be used for either, as long as the white was reidentified as an ungrounded conductor.

The future

According to the 2011 code...

National Electrical Code 2011

ARTICLE 404 Switches

I. Installation

404.2 Switch Connections.

(C) Switches Controlling Lighting Loads. Where switches control lighting loads supplied by a grounded general purpose branch circuit, a grounded circuit conductor shall be provided at the switch location.

A grounded (neutral) conductor is now required at each switch location (see code for exceptions), which means the circuit would now have to look like this...

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enter image description here

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So you leave the neutral capped off in the box? –  Chris Cudmore Sep 13 '13 at 18:55
@ChrisCudmore, yes or used in lighted, smart, etc. switches that require power. –  Jason Sep 13 '13 at 18:56

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