House built in the early 70's.. Wiring/Light issue.

In ceiling light junction of master bedroom is power source. From there a wire leads to one wall outlet without further wires and a light switch on the wall. From light switch there are two more wires. One heads to another wall outlet. The other sends power to the bathroom, other bedroom and a light at the landing.

Problem: 'maintenance guy' disconnected too many wires at the ceiling light in master and at the wall switch and can't wire it back together. I need power to stay on for all the other rooms but the switch (single leg?) needs to turn only the light on and off without shutting power off to the other rooms... There is no extra set of wires meant just for the light and switch. They were part of everything and are not to be taken out of the loops so all other rooms and outlets work properly with constant power. How do I achieve this without adding a wire?

Existing wiring

  • 7
    'maintenance guy' has broken it and is unable to mend it and so should pay for the repair by a qualified electrician. Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 18:18
  • Is your diagram accurate? you have a green black and red wire?
    – longneck
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 18:31
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    Is this wired with cable or in conduit? Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes? Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 18:51
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    How could this possibly have worked before the maintenance guy disconnected it? There just aren't enough wires. - Unless it was using a fault ground wire as a switched hot, or something equally dangerous and illegal. Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 23:24
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    Your question is incomprehensible because: (1) If it worked BEFORE without any "extra" wires, why do we think we need extra wires now? (2) We don't know why the "maintenance guy" was messing with the wires at all? Was there a problem (What?) Were you needing a modification? (What?) (3) If the "maintenance guy" BROKE it, then he should FIX it. Either figure it out himself, or pay for someone else to come in and clean up the mess. Critical context is missing here to understand the question. Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


You don't have enough wires between switch and lamp to use hardwired controls.

However, you do have "always-hot" and neutral going to each relevant location.

It's time to go with "smart devices". You need a smart lamp fixture (or a plain lamp with a smart module), and a smart switch capable of remote-controlling said lamp or module without the use of hard wiring. Such things either communicate wirelessly, or they induce signals onto the power wires.

It's difficult to give a product recommendation, as these things are blossoming onto the market very rapidly, and the options are ever-changing. (for that reason, SE's format is to focus on durable advice and not to give specific product recommendations as they are quickly outdated.)

I'm quite sure what your 'maintenance guy' did was intentionally misconfigure your wiring so the light misused the safety ground wire as a neutral/return. That is an illegal and dangerous thing to do, and we won't recommend it here. Not least, any wiring problem can put 120V on the light switch cover screws and electrocute you!


5 and more solutions : scroll to conclusion first!

1st solution →you can have light there but lamp which have switch on itself,old fashioned corded switch(1st solution),or 2ndsolution is remote switch built in bulb (SMART bulbs) ,3rd solution is that remote switch is outside of bulb regardless if that is IR sensor,Bluetooth,Wifi,Radio signal or even acoustic switch.(so called SMART lamp,as described from previous poster,are remote controlled and have remote switch inside,but there EXIST MORE answers/solutions!) 3rd solution → is to pass one more wire from 1st box to switch 4th solution → is based on 3rd one,works same,but NO NEED EXTRA WIRE,as use grounding wire from 1st and 2nd box for return wire..but then outlet will not have grounding..so can be changed for that type,or used same but with knowledge that is safe only for devices which no need grounding for safety.(you know you will remove grounding wire from back side of outlet,and re-purpose it),really i recommend to change type of outlet to psychically prevent misuse.. 5th solution is old fashion sensor mostly used on projectors,with or without bulb fixture.well in this case can be brought just that part ,standalone version..And this part can be used as siple arlarm system or part of alarm system..

all this solutions are safe if are done properly

and in some rare case in building where for grounding is used neutral wire there is one more solution if not going to use some sort of remote operated switch inside/outside of bulb.

Personally 1st solution with cordswitch is cheapest in long run(also safe,practical,fast and easy..and i will recommend it to all, for do it yourself people well they know that remote switch and signal receiver can be built for cheap), and ground wire solution is also simple and cheap but you maybe need to hire/pay professional electrician if you dont understand what i wrote..

People down voting,as are not capable to understand/either do it,without some sort of ready to buy SMART lamp with remote switch inside.

Conclusion : You can do it,only depends what solution you prefer,or level of DIY in yourself ,as there are solutions with more DIY involved,and almost ready solution,and even ready so called SMART solution()..like "SMART" bulb ,and for that already you have all. Just pass wires to position ,of bulb holder,and buy SMART bulb,but read further...

Economically if you want to have remote operating light cheaper in long run is to built in that your wire connection junction box remote receiver(or outside),then to buy with every exchange of bulb receiver and emitter ..asSMART bulb have that all in one,package and price is higher.. Maybe lamp with external sensor is all what you need..(SMART bulbs/lamps have built it inside),i want to say make remote switch to be outside of lamp have advantage,-its hidden,and not to be payed every time when you replacing "SMART"bulb.. With that path in future you will be buying just bulbs,not paying higher price of smart bulb every time when you need to replace bulb.Remote or not remote controlled that solutions without buying every time SMART bulb/lamp i call really SMART in long run.

Just to add,remote controlled bulb,you can control with fixed wireless push button anywhere mounted,or with smartphone,or with garage door opener,so choose what fit you best! All those solutions are SMART...and even if "look like" that you "dont have enough wires", yes, you can use even HARDWIRED control if you are SMART.

  • WTF... I didn't downvote your post! Don't downvote mine! Please remove it, and don't just assume things like that. Commented May 30, 2017 at 17:41
  • Although now that you mention it, there are several problems with your post: first it's really rambling (and getting much worse with recent edits). But second it recommends misusing ground as neutral, which is actually improper to say here, as all our recommendations must conform with code (or explain pretty well why deviating from Code is a good idea). As you know, you can always improve an answer and I encourage you to do so. Still haven't downvoted you, you got your -2 back in 2016 not from me. Commented May 30, 2017 at 17:56
  • Also it looks like your newlines/returns/paragraphs aren't coming through because on SE you must put a blank line between them or SE flows them together. Your recommendation to run one more extra wire does not comply with code, all conductors must be in the same cable (NEC 300.3) so he would need to replace the cable with a /3. (I omitted that option because I didn't think OP would be into that). Keep at it, you can get it in good shape. Commented May 30, 2017 at 18:04

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