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I have a ceiling light in my kitchen, which is nice to make the room well-lit but not convenient for actually doing kitchen work (the light is in the middle of the room, so when I stand near a working surface, my body casts shadow on the surface).

I want to add under-cabinet LEDs to light the surfaces, but I'd rather not add another switch. Best if I can install them in such way that they're controlled by the same switch as the main light. This switch is an on-off switch that is only wired to the middle of the ceiling.

I'm looking for a wireless switch that can turn the under-cabinet lighting on and off according to the main lighting, without replacing its switch. I.e., that the wireless transmitter will be activated by the main lighting circuit being closed and open.

  • Does power to the ceiling light come in at the light box or the switch box? – ThreePhaseEel Oct 20 '18 at 15:13
  • Power comes in at the switch box – onon15 Oct 20 '18 at 15:28
  • Since there are 2 answers suggesting I install new wiring between the switch box and the under cabinet lights. The is a large distance (at least 5m) between the switch box and the cabinets, but no visible junction/electrical box. My concern is that there is a junction box (as there is many power outlets in the kitchen) but it is blocked by the kitchen cabinets. Trying to install additional wire could be complicated. That's why I'm looking for wireless. – onon15 Oct 22 '18 at 5:10
  • Err, is the switch not in a junction box? – ThreePhaseEel Oct 22 '18 at 11:28
  • The switch is outside the kitchen -- so even though it is in a junction box, I have reasons to believe there are additional boxes down the line – onon15 Oct 22 '18 at 11:42
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Why make it more complicated than it needs to be?

What you really want is a switched-hot and matching neutral to power the undercabinet lighting from. Well, they're right there at the switch box, since that's where power comes in at. Using a pigtail and wire nut to tap the switched-hot, and tapping the neutral at the existing junction, going off into a /2 cable to the LED undercabinet lights, and that's all that's needed. No need to fuss with wireless switches or any of that, just a cable (or surface raceway/trunking with wires in it if running a cable through the wall isn't an option) from point A to point B.

  • Occam's Razor Outlet. – Harper Nov 26 '18 at 17:04
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My suggestion is to pull a 1,5mm^2 wire from the 'switched side' of current light switch to new light fixture location then to 'borrow' a neutral and a PE from an outlet near the new light fixture (possibly coming from the same circuit or the RCD will trip) so you'll have both the switched line and the neutral. You just need an 'electrician probe' to pull the wire inside existing conduits.

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    Your suggestion breaks a bunch of electrical code rules (at least in North America). Is it 'legal' to separate live and neutral in a circuit over in metric land? – brhans Oct 20 '18 at 14:33
  • If circuit is the same it's perfectly lecit to have the phase conductor doing a 'longer' travel to reach the switch and is also lecit to power more than 1 light from same switch. It's not orthodox but it's lecit – DDS Oct 20 '18 at 21:47
  • But that would require first determining if the switch (existing light) and outlet are on the same circuit. Often - and ideally - they are not - at least here in the US you want to have (though older kitchens often don't have) GFCI protected outlets separate from the lighting circuit so that if you trip a GFCI the lights don't go out. – manassehkatz Oct 31 '18 at 20:50
  • You can't borrow neutrals, because they may be on or later may be moved to a different circuit, which then overloads that neutral. Neutrals don't have breakers. Also you can't run a hot wire without its corresponding neutral being in the same cable, because of the "currents must be equal" rule. Borrowing grounds is fine in retrofit application. – Harper Nov 26 '18 at 16:54
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If you're willing to replace the main switch (not sure why you said "without replacing its switch"), a smart switch can do this.

I'll use Insteon as an example since that's what I'm familiar with, but there are other protocols/manufacturers that may also have a solution (Lutron Maestro, Z-wave, etc). (I'm assuming you're in the USA, not sure how many of these product are available in other countries)

First, replace your main switch with an Insteon Wall Switch or dimmer, this will control your main kitchen lighting and act as a wireless controller.

Then at the cabinets, you can use either a plug in switch/dimmer, a switched outlet, or an embedded micro switch.

Then just link the main switch with whatever device you use at the cabinets and they'll work together.

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