I have a basic understanding of home wiring and generally able to "figure things out" as an engineer. I have a single receptacle in my detached garage that is switched with a 3-way switch (switches wired together with 14/2, then 14/2 wire from one switch goes to receptacle).

I'd like to steal the hot from here to power 2 lights in the loft. I understand the 3-way will need to be on before the switch activating the lights is even powered.

Is this doable? Can someone help clarify how I'd wire it? Would it be just like a normal switch?

Basically, I don't want the loft lights on all the time. I have 2 shop lights plugged into the switched receptacle. If I needed to go into the loft, I'd turn on the 3 way switch, then go turn on this new switch to light up the loft. Any input is greatly appreciated!

  • to clarify, its quite a long way to the 3 way switches, and i'm trying to avoid running wire all the way back to the source just for 2 led bulbs. plus all the holes that would need to be cut.....
    – erik
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 19:17
  • Can you provide pictures of each switch box?
    – JACK
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 19:39
  • It is a little concerning that you say "steal the hot". You would not need to take the hot away from the receptacle, but you would just connect a cable to the switched hot and the neutral and the ground in the receptacle box and from there go to a switch box. A simple switch will not need a neutral, but fancier ones would. A simple switch will have the incoming hot from the receptacle on one screw and a switched hot going to the loft fixture on the other screw. The cable going to the loft lights will of course have hot, neutral and ground. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:09
  • thank you Jim! by steal i just meant pull the power from it like you mention here. i'm actually going to put a 2 gang box in and put the receptacle and new switch in it together so i can run to the lights from there,
    – erik
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:28
  • You've got to have "always hot" power somewhere, and it should be to one of the switches. Which switch has that? Why not run power from there to your new switch to the new lights? That way you don't have to hit 2 switches for the loft lights - nothing worse than walking to the garage w/o turning on the lights (because it's daylight & you can see), getting into the loft, then realizing you've got to hit the other switch, climbing back down...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


You mentioned the travelers were in a /2 cable. I hope that's a typo; 3-ways require at least /3 cable, and NEC 300.3(B) requires all related wires to be in the same cable or conduit, to assure currents are equal and the rather intense dynamic EMFs of AC power cancel each other out.

First, on the 3-way circuit, don't mess with the travelers. They are not useful unless you want byzantine and annoying light control. I even recommend marking the two travelers with yellow tape on both ends so you know what you're dealing with.

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The switched-hot wire, however, can be used as a source for a subordinate light circuit.

You wire it like a normal light circuit, except instead of "supply hot" you take "tier 1 switched-hot".

  • thank you very much. subordinate i guess is the term i could not properly figure out so i didnt know what to look for!
    – erik
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:29

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