I (stupidly) interpreted from the word-less IKEA light fixture instructions that the fixtures (2) had their own on/off switch. As a result, I wired power to 2 fixture boxes, wired up the fixtures, turned the power on, and realized the fixtures actually have their own dimmer switch, but not on/off. I was stuck with lights that were always on!

Question: is this drawing the correct way to fix my issue - for both lights to be controlled by 1 switch?

Much appreciated!!!


2 Answers 2


You're almost there! Simply run a /3 cable instead of the /2 to the switch; this lets you run the switched hot using the cable's red wire, freeing up its white to be connected to neutral at the fixture end and capped off at the switch end. This is required for future use as per NEC 404.2(C):

(C) Switches Controlling Lighting Loads. The grounded circuit conductor for the controlled lighting circuit shall be provided at the location where switches control lighting loads that are supplied by a grounded general-purpose branch circuit for other than the following:

(1) Where conductors enter the box enclosing the switch through a raceway, provided that the raceway is large enough for all contained conductors, including a grounded conductor

(2) Where the box enclosing the switch is accessible for the installation of an additional or replacement cable without removing finish materials

(3) Where snap switches with integral enclosures comply with 300.15(E)

(4) Where a switch does not serve a habitable room or bathroom

(5) Where multiple switch locations control the same lighting load such that the entire floor area of the room or space is visible from the single or combined switch locations

(6) Where lighting in the area is controlled by automatic means

(7) Where a switch controls a receptacle load

Informational Note: The provision for a (future) grounded conductor is to complete a circuit path for electronic lighting control devices.

  • 1
    By the way when the Code says "grounded [circuit] conductor", it means "neutral". It does not mean ground. It means literally the conductor (active wire in the circuit, a safety ground is not a conductor in this meaning) whose voltage is quite near ground because it is bonded to the building's ground rods back in the main panel. Long winded way of saying neutral. I was hoping with his easy attic access, OP could snake under the 404.2C2 exception, or the existing switch loop would be grandfathered. Jun 1, 2017 at 4:51
  • Thanks Harper & ThreePhaseEel for the quick and helpful response! To make sure I got it: I will use a 14/3 for the switch leg. Black from switch ties to black for fixtures. Red from switch ties to Black from source. White from Switch ties to all whites in j-box. And ground from switch ties to all grounds in j-box. Correct? Thanks!
    – matt
    Jun 1, 2017 at 19:33
  • @matt -- what you suggest will work just fine :) Jun 1, 2017 at 22:12

Yes. What makes this "full of win" is the star topology, with each point coming together in a central junction box. That means you can use /2 cable for everything, and it all becomes rather easy!

  • This setup is almost there, actually -- it doesn't meet the 404.2(C) requirement for a neutral in the switch box Jun 1, 2017 at 3:18
  • @ThreePhaseEel Ack!! You're right!! So close, too. Jun 1, 2017 at 4:45

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