I would like to install a 60W light for my coat closet. I can gain access to a GFI outlet on the outside wall of the closet. When I went to open up the outlet I noticed quite a mess of wires. I don't have a picture so I will explain in full detail. There are 3 cables (three blacks, three whites and three grounds) connected into the GFI.

One set of wires is going in to the "LINE" the second set goes into the "LOAD". The last set is pigtailed into the "LOAD" as well.

I am not sure if I can pigtail another line into the LOAD or should I take it from the LINE side? I dont want to overload the gfi and there is no other power source I can grab from that's close.


Your lighting circuit should be pigtailed off the LINE side of things (essentially upstream of the outlet). This keeps the wiring a bit simpler and lights aren't typically GFCI protected anyway.

Basically the black coming into the LINE terminals should be connected to the black leading to your new switch box, and they should also connect to a pigtail leading to the outlet. Same with the whites, and the grounds all bundle together (green in the diagram below).

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  • Great thanks I can use this for reference purposes! But the only issue I would have now is, there is already a tight fit with the existing Romex wires. Do you think i should install a junction box to stuff all the wires in? – user67817 Mar 27 '17 at 20:57
  • Romex is a brand. Feel free to just call them "cables". I have no idea if your box is a mess or is undersized for the job. A photo in your original post would help. Also, there are code limits to what a box of a particular size can contain. Check for a volume rating in cubic inches stamped into the box. – isherwood Mar 27 '17 at 21:15
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    @Kris Box fill is a serious issue, both in a physical and statutory sense. For the statutory, most boxes state their cubic inch capacity or they are standard. Pigtails are free, all grounds count as 1 wire, and any yoke (switch or receptacle) counts as 2 wires. So you're at 9 heading to 11. Each wire takes 2 cubic inches (14 gauge) or 2.25 cubic inches (12 gauge). I hope the existing box is a 4x4 box! – Harper Mar 27 '17 at 21:16

There is almost no load on that wire, so even if it is tight I don't think you'll have any overheating issues. Stranded wire works well in these tight areas, but you may not have any laying around.

I would be skeptical of the lights being downstream of the GFCI, though. The GFCI is designed to trip almost instantly when it senses a load imbalance, and it's tolerance is ridiculously finicky by design. For whatever reason, I have experienced several situations over the years where a switched load (like a light) causes intermittent tripping of the GFCI. Most people immediately suspect the main breaker, and then call me back when they find it isn't tripped. It's annoying for them and annoying for me to have to drive out there to reset a GFI. If you notice that the GFCI is tripping for no apparent reason, this is probably why.

  • Great! I appreciate all the helpful advice guys, thanks – user67817 Mar 28 '17 at 0:21

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