Above our front door, we have (for want of a better word) a security light. This light can only be controlled by a switch near the front door. The light switch for the is just one of three on the same panel that also controls both the hallway and the landing lights.

Rather than just simply replacing the light with one that's activated by a motion sensor, I am looking to get one that is solar powered so that it is completely removed from the electricity supply and just does what it needs to. There seem to be some great ones out there, but what do I do with the existing light?!

Ideally, I'd like to take the old one down and put the solar powered one in its place. Also, when I have done that, it would be a good idea to change the light switch to have just two switches rather than three. So, my question is, what do I do about the wires that I will be disconnecting from the switch and the bare wires that will inevitably be left coming out of the external wall?

  • Do you know if the power is at the Light, or the switch? You should be able to tell by opening up the light box. If you have one cable (2-3 wires), the power is at the switch. If you have 2 cables (4-6 wires), the power might be at the light (unless more than one fixture is controlled by this switch).
    – Tester101
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


Typically an exterior light will have a cable directly from the switch to the light soley for the purpose of switching. This is unlike some electrical boxes you will find in your interior where there are circuits branching off within the box, or where power might come in at the ceiling and then a cable is run to the switch.

Assuming this is the case, once you disconnect it the old switch and light, connect the hot and neutral (black/white) together with a wirenut on both ends. This is a good way of indiciating that it is no longer in use, and if someone were to mistakenly connect it again, it would short out and trip the breaker. If it is not wired in this manner you will need to be a bit more careful with what you disconnect and tie together.

On the outside, if your new light fixture is not being mounted to the same electrical box then you would want to cap the box with a weather tight cover.

  • Would this be suitable to do to wires on the external wall, where the light would have been, too?
    – cchana
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 13:28
  • I'm confused. Could you explain this better?
    – Tester101
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 13:41
  • Although the answer covers the switch, there will still be a wire coming out of the brick wall into the porch from where the old light has been removed. Just wondering if using a wirenut is an acceptable way to handle this outside or if there is something else I should use, especially when there is a chance that the wires could get wet... although disconnecting from the switch may take care of any safety risks?
    – cchana
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 14:51
  • @Tester101 I've tried to clarify what I meant, I hope it is clear now.
    – Steven
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 15:21
  • 1
    Before I disconnected the original light I would mount the solar light nearby to make sure it meets your expectations.Some look real bright in the store but in an outside enviroment they may not seem as bright.
    – mikes
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 21:34

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