Ok, so I am just about to start installing recessed lighting in my apartment. I've researched pretty much everything and I am pretty confident in doing the job. HOWEVER, there is just one more thing I need answered, that I couldn't find.

Do the cans/lights have to be wired in order?

For example look at the two diagrams below:

Can I do it like this? NOT IN ORDER

Or must it be done like this?


It will save me a lot of drilling/time if I DON'T have to wire them in order from the switch.


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    A better and safer option would be to hire an electrician. If your knowledge of electrical circuitry is at the point where you have to ask this question, then your knowledge of how to prevent your house from burning down may be equally inadequate. Please don't do this yourself. – Dawood ibn Kareem Jan 28 '18 at 2:33
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    In some fittings, fitting three cores into each terminal can be difficult, especially with larger wires. Check your lights before you install them, or you might have to pigtail each light. – SomeoneSomewhereSupportsMonica Jan 28 '18 at 5:54

You can wire them in any sequence. Do it in whatever way is the most convenient. The electricity doesn't care, and doesn't know the physical location of the fixtures.

Household wiring is parallel, so there isn't really a sequence. Each fixture just needs to be fed power by some path from the breaker box. When you route the wire from fixture to fixture, the power isn't really going through one fixture to get to the next. Rather the wiring provides a shared electrical path from the breaker, and each fixture taps its own power from it. [1]

[1] Note: This applies to basic wiring, such as standard light fixtures and outlets, as asked about in the question. There are other situations that are a little more complicated. For example, in wiring GFCI outlets, sequence is important. And there are other special cases, such as Sean Boddy mentions in a comment.

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  • Yeah I figured. Just wanted to be safe. Thanks!! – Chris Jan 27 '18 at 23:06
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    I tried to upvote twice but all it did was cancel my upvote. So I upvoted 3 times. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 27 '18 at 23:07
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    Sorry. This is absolutely correct, but it caught my eye and and stroked one of my pet peeves. NORMAL power can NORMALLY be run in any way that puts power to the fixture. Specialty systems do exist where you cannot do whatever you want. I spent days fixing networked smart lights that an electrician wired up in parallel, which was not correct in that instance. Read the manual, measure twice, cut once and all that. – Sean Boddy Jan 28 '18 at 6:06
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    @SeanBoddy, good point. GFCI outlets would be another exception. I updated the answer. – fixer1234 Jan 28 '18 at 6:56
  • While the answer is correct. You must be sure the wire and switch may not be used for anything they aren't be rated for. In Europe for example most wires used in homes after the switch are rated for only 10 ampere and not the 16 ampere of supply wire. Please ask your local hardware store if you can't find the rating of the used components. – hspaans Jan 28 '18 at 15:50

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