I have a challenging wiring question.

I have power coming in to a pull chain light fixture(beginning-of-run). it needs to stay in its current position. I need to borrow power from it and add two downstream STANDARD light fixtures, with a power switch at end-of-run.

The goal is to have the pull-chain light fixture, function independently (regardless of downstream switch position). The two downstream lights need to be controlled by the light switch at end-of-run.


  • Welcome to DIY! Can you post pictures of the fixture?
    – Machavity
    Aug 27, 2019 at 19:17

1 Answer 1


So your existing fixture (assuming standard US wiring, you'll have to verify) has a hot (black), neutral (white), and ground (bare) and has constant power. The additional lights will need 4 wires - constant hot to travel to the switch (black), a neutral (white) and a switched power that will come back from the switch (red).

The existing wire (assuming 14G wire for lighting circuits) is sold as "14/2" cable. The ground isn't counted in the number scheme, so it's considered to have 2 conductors. What you will need for the rest of the run is "14/3". This new cable (black, white, red) will run from the existing light to each of the new lights and then to the switch box.

At the existing light, black connects to black and white to white, but the red will just be capped off and unused. Red will be power coming from the switch. In the future if you wanted the pull chain light to be controlled by the switch, you could hook that light's black wire to the new red.

At the new lights, white will connect to white and the black on the fixture will connect to the "switched" red wire. The black wire of the 14/3 will not connect to the new light and will just "pass through" the box. In each box, all ground wires are connected to each other and the bare or green wire from the fixture.

At the switch, the white wire will be capped (unless you use a smart switch that needs the neutral) and the black and red wires will connect to the two screw terminals on the light switch.

Older wiring practices would allow you to do all of this without the extra red wire, but now all switch boxes require a neutral so you must use 14/3 to do it properly and allow for future flexibility. You could do this now with a mix of 14/2 and 14/3, but if you just use 14/3 you don't have to buy 2 rolls of different cable and again, it gives you flexibility later.

Diagram added by request: End of run switch

The "dotted" red wire is optional and if you never want the pull chain light to be on a switch it will serve no purpose. The white wire going to the switch is not used unless you have a smart switch but it is required by code.

  • 1
    He would still need /3 between the two lamps. Aug 27, 2019 at 20:00
  • 1
    @Harper, true I meant without the extra wire in all locations... Either way I would use /3 everywhere for simplicity.
    – JPhi1618
    Aug 27, 2019 at 20:08
  • Just what I needed. I have a spool of 14/2 and 14/3. So, plenty to go around. Your explanation was spot-on. I am a highly visual person. If you could quickly draw this out for me and shoot it to me as an email attachment, unless you can attach it to this string, that would be great.
    – Dino
    Aug 27, 2019 at 20:54
  • 1
    @Dino, I couldn't find a diagram on the internet to use so I created an original for you. Enjoy. The first light had a pull chain but some aggressive lasso tool removed it.
    – JPhi1618
    Aug 27, 2019 at 21:21
  • +1 for providing for possible future requirements. Aug 29, 2019 at 1:26

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