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I am installing a new exhaust fan with 2 lights. The box where the switch goes, has a 2 wire and ground coming in to it. The black is hot. When the light would be turned on both the black and white became hot so the white was my return. I am installing a 3 toggle switch in its place. Can I just use the wires there or do I need to run new wires from a power source. I am confused. I am thinking I need to run anew line, but don’t get it. Why can’t I use the wires in the box? The diagram for the switch shows a black hot coming in and then 3 blacks going out to the fixture. Then it shows white coming back as a return. Where do I hook that up? The existing white? Or no. I’m confused about that part. Yes there is a ground.

enter image description herehere is the picture of the old light fixture and box.

enter image description hereonce the power comes into the switch box I plan to run into three toggle switch. I am running new wires from the box to the exhaust fan and lights

  • 1
    Is replacing the existing /2 cable with something fatter an option? Feb 8, 2019 at 1:45
  • What do you mean something fatter? I need to trace the present wire back to a box where it is getting the power in the attic I believe. I haven’t figured that out yet.
    – Kent P
    Feb 8, 2019 at 2:03
  • "something fatter" means a cable with more wires in it, or even a conduit depending on how many wires you need Feb 8, 2019 at 2:04
  • Gotcha. It is possible I believe. I purchased NM-B with 14/3 with a ground.
    – Kent P
    Feb 8, 2019 at 2:06
  • 1
    You may need something bigger than a 14/3 even, given that you have a triple switch in play.... Feb 8, 2019 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


The choice is yours to make based on how much control you want.

Do you need to control the lights separately from the fan?

(do you mind if the fan comes on every time the lights come on?)

If no:

Just wire all the black wires to your existing black wire, the whites to white, and the ground to green and you are done!

If yes:

You'll need to run another wire.

If you decide you need to run another wire you need to ask your self

Do you need to control the lights independently from one another?

If yes:

Then you'll need to run 14/4 wire and 2 more switches. (instructions below)

If no:

Then you can use the 14/3 you bought, but will need an extra switch.

Instruction for connecting new wire:

  1. Connect all neutrals in the fan/light box together with the neutral (white) of you newly run wire.
  2. Connect the neutral wire directly to the neutral (white) in your switch box
  3. Connect the green grounding wire to your copper or green wire of your newly run wire.
  4. Connect the green (or copper) grounding wire of your new wire to the grounding wire in your switch box with an added jumper if required for your switch.
  5. Connect each of your switches to your the hot wire in your switch box via jumper wires
  6. Connect each switch then distributes power to one of the remaining colored wires (and take note of the order)
  7. Connect the other end of the wire to the desired device you want it to control

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