With such low-power LED lights available, I've been setting up some of my lighting to simply be on all the time, 24x7, e.g. 1 of 6 downlights or 1 out of 4 LED "tube"s in a troffer. Usually I just establish the convention of leaving the switch on. However I'd like to re-task those switches to other purposes, and simply hardwire the light into always-hot.

What does the National Electrical Code say about that? Does it require a switch so the light can be turned off easily by people in the room? Does it suffice that there's a circuit breaker in the panel? Does the light need to be marked with which breaker operates it? Is there a serious user-interface/usability issue with lights that can't be turned off? Is there anything I'm missing?

2 Answers 2


There's no code problem having a light on 24 hrs and switched at the breaker, but the breaker must be switch rated. Most new breakers are rated as such. You can check on one side of the breaker there will be a circle with the letters SWD stamped inside of it.


NEC 2014

210.70(A), (B), and (C). (A) Dwelling Units. In dwelling units, lighting.......At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room and bathroom.

Note: Occupancy switches are allowed in lieu of a regular switch.

2017 Code changes require dimmers on stairs to be at both locations. Usually only possible with smart dimmers.

Using a breaker as a switch would be permitted if the breaker was rated for switching and in the same room.

Bottom line there needs to be at least one switch controlled light in the room. So at least as the minimum is met, what you do with the other lights is no problem.

  • 1
    However my question isn't about the mandatory switched light, it's whether I can have an additional light which is always on and unswitched. Mind you this additional light is in the same room as the switched light. So that means there would be at least two lights in the room, one switched and the other unswitched. My question isn't about the mandatory switched light but rather the second unswitched one. May 4, 2017 at 23:29
  • Yes, i just updated the last paragraph. Good question!
    – Kris
    May 5, 2017 at 0:09

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