I have installed (5) recessed lights to my ceiling. I just wanted to double check two questions.

  1. Is my wiring sequence correct?

Switch to light #1 (3 blacks, 3 whites, 3 grounds in #1),

light #1 to light #2 (3 blacks, 3 whites, 3 grounds in #2),

.... and so on until,

light #4 to light #5 (2 blacks, 2 whites, 2 grounds in light #5). The wires terminate at light #5.

  1. I used the push connectors provided by the housing. If I cut the 12G wires' harness too long (about an inch) that when I inserted them into the push connector, some wire is still exposed at the base of the connector, can I just wrap electrical tape around the base of the connector with the wires? I know you can do this for a wire nut, but I haven't seen people do it with push connectors so I'm just making sure it's completely okay.

I know I can just remove the wire, cut it and reinsert but im afraid of loosening the push connector's grip by doing that.

Apologies for the noob questions. :)

  • You say you used 12 gauge wire on the push in connectors, in the US the outlets and switches are only listed for 14 gauge wire, there is usually a slot or hole next to the place the wire was pressed in to release the wire. Screw connectors are much more reliable I will only use push in connectors on Flouresents or led fixtures as they never draw much and I haven't had one fail there but when daisy changing fixtures regularly see failures from back stabs.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 25, 2018 at 15:21
  • That is correct, push connectors are single use. Either cut the wires the correct length the first time, or use wire nuts. Frankly I recommend the latter, as push connectors make point contact with wires, whereas nuts make substantial contact, and this causes lots of flaky connections later. . The key to nuts is use good ones (Ideal brand is electrician's choice) and tighten them plenty - if you stick the wires in straight, the bare wires should tightly spiral inside the nut, and the insulated parts should start to also. If not, twist more! Dec 25, 2018 at 18:59
  • @ Ed Beal. My reading online was that I should be using 12G wire on 20A breakers? Since all my breakers at 20A, I went with the 12G. Is this incorrect in any way? Please advise.
    – James L
    Dec 25, 2018 at 20:41
  • @JamesL correct. Backstabs on receptacles and switches are 14AWG only. You are using a free floating push/stab connector, and those are often seen with multi-size rating, but you need to check the labeling and instructions for those specific push connectors. Lighting circuits are often 15A and thus 14AWG is often the assumption. Dec 25, 2018 at 20:46
  • @Harper Thanks for all your help. I think I will just cut the wires and join using correct-sized wire nuts since I have the exposed wire issue and for better contact. Thanks again!
    – James L
    Dec 25, 2018 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


Cable colors are black white bare simply because that is how cables are manufactured, the colors do not reflect the functional purpose of each wire.

You may do wiring in either a string configuration or a tree configuration where unlimited branching is allowed. (In fact a string is just a kind of tree configuration). The tree layout means any number of cables can come together in a box. So 3 cables at the switch and 3 cables at a light is not weird. This is allowed:

 Supply -----SW                          /-----Lt3------------Lt5
               \                        /

However, are you including the cable from the light itself among the 3 wires/cables? In that case you are simply doing the in-wall wiring in a string, and branching a very short branch out to the light itself. That is fine and normal. Counting the wires of the light itself, for instance in the above diagram, Lt2 would have 4 of each color wire.

You mentioned 3 cables at the switch. I can only account for two:

  • Supply (always-hot, neutral, and ground)
  • Switched to the lamps (switched-hot, neutral and ground)

I cannot fathom what the third might be. It might be a branched circuit to the lights (as in example above) or it may be

  • onward supply to another point-of-use (always-hot, neutral, and ground).

This starts to get confusing, so I like to use colored tape. For instance the conventional color of choice for switched-hot wires is red. Always mark a wire on both ends at the same time, when you mark wire.

  • Sorry for confusion. I believe by your explanation I went by the string configuration. Only 2 cables at the switch -> Supply (always hot, neutral, ground) and switched to lamps (switch hot, neutral, ground). There are 3 sets of cables (from switch or previous lamp, lamp itself, and out to next lamp) in the lamps,. Light #5 will just have 2 sets of cables from the previous lamp and the lamp itself.
    – James L
    Dec 25, 2018 at 20:35
  • @JamesL okay. That arrangement is pretty straightforward, then. Dec 25, 2018 at 20:42
  • So I ran into an possible issue, the switch has 14G wires coming out of it. Would this be an issue if I connect 12G wires to it? My entire house is on 20A breakers. The switch used to power an outlet but Im switching it to power the lights.
    – James L
    Dec 25, 2018 at 22:56
  • If it is a switch eith screws or backstabs where you put the pigtails on it, then someone probably used #14 because #12 doesn't fit in backstabs. If the switch is factory manufactured with pigtails, e.g. Smart switch, dimmer, switch/GFCI combo etc., then the smaller wire is allowed due to a special exception in Code, or rather, UL's product safety standards. Dec 25, 2018 at 23:07
  • Gotcha. And have a 14G supply and 12G out tot he lamps isn’t a problem?
    – James L
    Dec 25, 2018 at 23:11

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