I’m adding a light to my closet. It will be operated by a switch. Currently, I only have a receptacle next to the closet. The light switch will be directly above the current receptacle. Currently, there’s a romex wire coming down from the attic that goes to the receptacle and there’s a romex wire that comes from the receptacle and continues along the circuit.

I know that I can run a wire from the receptacle to the light switch for power. This would be illustrated in the bottom right of my drawing. But out of curiosity, I’m wondering if it’s possible to run the wire that’s coming from the attic into my light switch box, use it as a source for my closet light, and continue uninterrupted power down to the receptacle. This would be illustrated in the bottom left of my drawing.

Very rough diagram

Wiring for bottom left option in original drawing

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1 Answer 1


You could do either solution as long as you know the proper way to wire up mains electrical circuits.

The solution on the bottom right is probably the preferred solution because you just have to add wires. If you go with the left side diagram you cannot just split the existing wire and expect it to nicely be spliced into inside the added switch box. There just would not be enough wire length available.

If you do go with the left side solution make sure to split off the cable well below the new switch box location so there is adequate length to pull into and out the face of the new box. Then you would need to run a new longer wire from the lower outlet box back up to the new switch box.

So as you can see the right side solution is easier as you are just adding additional wires instead of disturbing existing connections.

  • Thanks. I understand what you’re saying. If I went with the bottom left option in my original drawing, does my wiring diagram I added look correct?
    – billmack30
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 5:23
  • Yes your diagram is good. But agree with Michael that the option on the right is almost certainly easier. The NM cable running down to that outlet should be stapled to the stud. You will have to tear up drywall to pull it out. There is no upside to doing this. I would cut a hole for your switch outlet then run fish tape up from Inside existing outlet to the hole and pull NM cable down into the existing outlet. Then proceed as you have diagrammed.
    – Stanwood
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 5:42
  • I also agree right is easier (unless the wall is completely open). When you cut the existing wire it’s very hard to get the extra 8-12” of wire you need to make up that new box.
    – Tyson
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 11:59
  • impossible, unless you make it easy. E.G. If you went with the left option, you would need to reach in and cut the cable 6" below the bottom of the new switch box, giving you 9-10" of working length for the cable above. For the cable below, you would have to totally replace the cable between old receptacle and new switch box. You wouldn't need to tear up drywall to staple; stapling is not required when you retrofit wiring into existing walls. I like the left option because it means you can attach to a stud rather than weak drywall. Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 19:32
  • Thanks for all the input, guys. I neglected to mention that the wall is open inside of the closet (I’m expanding it). I’m also replacing the outlet so adding a new wire from switch to outlet won’t be a problem.
    – billmack30
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 21:17

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