I'm trying to install a ceiling light. I found a convent place to put a on/off switch. There is a receptacle at the bottom of where I would like to add the on/off switch for the light.

So what I found is that the receptacle has source coming from the attic. There used to be an extra room there and previous own removed some walls due to which there is a junction box located in the attic which feeds the receptacle.

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Red arrow is the wire coming from the attic. Wall on the Second picture is the wall I will also be installing the switch. I'm trying to understand how I should wire the switch and the ceiling light. Should I tap into the junction box? I want the receptacle to be live all the time and do not want to control it via the switch.

Second wire at the junction box is powering the attic light.

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  • I added the junction box picture above. Thanks for your help.
    – Sam
    Oct 5 '17 at 1:51
  • Can you get some 14/3 in addition to the 14/2, or is the 14/2 all you can get? Oct 5 '17 at 2:19
  • Hi Yes I can get the 14/3. I'll return the 25ft 14/2 and buy 14/2 15ft and 14/3 25 ft.
    – Sam
    Oct 5 '17 at 18:30

So let's consider just the junction box for a second

There's 3 wires intersecting here

  1. The hot line from a prior outlet/circuit breaker
  2. The line to your outlet
  3. The line to your attic light

There's room for a fourth wire here so that's what I would suggest. But you'll need to make another store run to do it. Return your 25' 14/2. My local big box sells 15', so if you can buy some 15' 14/2 do it. Then get 25' of 14/3. Now, let's get your light in (be sure to turn the power off first!)

  1. Cut the hole for your fixture and mount the box above it. If I were you, I'd go the extra mile here and mount a box attached to a bracket, just in case you ever want to hang anything significant off it.
  2. Put your 14/2 into the junction box in the picture above (you have an open clamp on the left side). Just attach the wires to the existing nuts as they already are (white to white, etc). Run the other end into your new fixture junction box
  3. Cut a hole for your old work box in the drywall for the switch. Don't mount the box in just yet, just make sure it fits for now and then leave it out
  4. Near where the 14/2 for the outlet goes into the wall, drill another hole (needs to be at least 1/2" or greater). The tricky part is you need to make sure you're in the same cavity as the hole you just cut in step 3. Once you have the hole, fish your 14/3 down here. You'll want a helper down by the hole who can grab the wire and pull it through
  5. Before you go down, put your 14/3 into the box for your fixture (can cut it now or fish and cut below)
  6. Inside the fixture box you'll attach the wires. White to white and bare to bare, but attach the red wire to the black wire in your 14/2 (nut this one off but leave the rest un-nutted). Leave the black from the 14/3 by itself for now.
  7. Put your 14/3 into your switch box and mount it. When you put the switch in, attach the red and black (doesn't matter the order) and your ground. Strip the white and just put a pigtail on it. Mount the switch.
  8. Mount your fixture. White to white and black to the 14/3 black that's by itself. Put nuts on the rest of the wires now. Don't forget to ground it!

You can turn the power back on now and your fixture should work. Why the extra white wire in the switch box? Code now requires a neutral in the box. Some modern switches need one (like wi-fi switches). The cost here isn't that much more, but it will save you a lot of hassle if you do it right now.

There's one thing I did want to note here before closing. Your outlet is a 20A outlet, but your wire is 14/2, which is 15A max. That's not safe. I would buy a 15A outlet and replace it.

  • Hi Machavity, Thank you so much for the detailed reply. Based off of your reply, I created a diagram tell me if this seems right. I also uploaded a diagram of the light fixture. It does not have a red wire. This is where I'm confused. Am I attaching the 14/2 white to 14/3 white and then both these connect to the white from the light fixture using a nut? So total of 3 white in a nut?
    – Sam
    Oct 5 '17 at 18:27
  • The red wire will be your incoming hot to the switch (the 3 in 14/3 means you will have black, white, red and ground). You will not hook the fixture to that wire at all. The 14/3 black wire will be your switched hot. All white wires (including the fixture) go together. Your diagram looks like you get the gist of this
    – Machavity
    Oct 5 '17 at 19:05
  • I just finished the diagram, Does this seem right? yellow triangles are nuts.
    – Sam
    Oct 5 '17 at 19:37
  • Yes. You reversed the red and black from my description but it doesn't matter. The fixture will hook to one wire and the incoming hot will hook to the other. I think you've got it
    – Machavity
    Oct 5 '17 at 20:13
  • After all the help from here, I was able to install the light and it works! I used a light I had sitting around for the time being. Now I would like to install another switch outside the room to turn on/off the light. How do I go about doing that? There is a switch outside the room which controls a receptacle inside the room. Previous owner used it for a lamp. I could use the same switch and just make the receptacle hot.
    – Sam
    Oct 8 '17 at 20:58

Best way is to not mess with the receptacle, but to bring another cable (14 or 12 - 2 + gnd, according to existing cable and breaker) from the existing junction box in the attic to the new ceiling box for the light fixture, and a cable from the ceiling box to a hole in the wall for the new switch box. You will probably have to get larger wire nuts (grey) to hold 4 wires in each nut.

I presume that your cables have copper conductor, right? If you need more detail about connections, say so. I presume that you are going to use an ordinary mechanical single pole switch, right, that is, you are not going to use a new "smart switch" nor are you going to want to control this light with two 3-way switches?

  • It's currently using 14/2 cable. I bought same cable 25ft. I believe it has copper ground wire in it. All the receptacle in the room are attached. These lost power when I turned off breaker. I tested them. Would it still be ok to tap into the same junction box? Also one of the receptacle in the room is controlled by a switch outside the room which I believe they used to use it for lamp lights. I thought about using that switch but I don't want to turn of the lights from outside the room when inside. Also can I add dimmer switch on single pole? if so then that's probably what I'm looking for.
    – Sam
    Oct 5 '17 at 2:00
  • What Jim is saying is to tap into that box in the ceiling and take it to the location for the light. cable 2 from the light to the switch. Current code you would want to use 14-3 use the black wire connected to the black at the light location white to white and light white, red to the black for the light and Bare copper grounds connected if using a metal box connect grounds to the box. At the switch black to the switch connect the red to the other side of the switch put bare copper on the green at the switch, cap the white unless using a smart switch.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 5 '17 at 4:08
  • How many receptacles and lights are on this one breaker? What size is the breaker: 15-A or 20-A? Code limits how many outlets can be put on a circuit. Normally no one exceeds that, but you should count the number of receptacles and lights. If you plan to put in a dimmer switch, you may have to wire the circuit to have a neutral in the switch box. You will have to take this step by step and check each step with someone who knows what is safe and allowed by code. It sounds like you are new to house wiring. Oct 5 '17 at 13:36
  • Hi Jim, Thank you for your help. It's 15-A breaker and there are total of 8 receptacle's attached to this breaker including the bathroom lights. I'm absolutely new to wiring. I would like to learn and I'm very passionate about it. I'm in IT and I have wired network cables in the past but of course nothing hot or electrical. I do feel confident enough to do the job if given the instructions. Please see the diagram I attach to the post above and tell me if that seems right.
    – Sam
    Oct 5 '17 at 18:33
  • All seems right. Your edits and subsequent comments confirm that you are mastering the details of how to do this. If you have never put in a wall box before, you might not know that there are two general types and you want the one called an "old work" box. You fish the cable out the hole in the wall for this box and run the cable into the box and then insert the box into the hole in the wall and clamp it to the drywall opening with the screws and tabs which are part of the old work box. Oct 5 '17 at 21:35

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