I'm adding canless recessed light fixtures to my man cave. Drywall ceiling with loose fill insulation within the trusses and batts over that. These are the lights with the small wiring box connected to the light itself, which snaps into a hole in the ceiling. The wiring box is very small, and contains hot and neutral pigtails with the fittings to insert supply wiring. My problem is that I want one of the lights on a three way switch circuit from the entry door to the exit door. With two 14/3 wires w/ ground, plus the factory pigtails, I can't imagine getting all those wires and wire nuts inside the little black box.

The black box is simply inserted into the hole for the light and rests on the drywall above. The only way I can come up with is to do the three wire wiring in a covered junction box, with a two wire drop from there to the little black box, then insert the whole assembly into the hole and rest it on the drywall. That goes against what I know about junction boxes (accessible and fastened to a structural member). Is there a standard way this is done?

  • 1
    Do you mind having a blank-cover junction box in your ceiling near the location of the can light? Oct 7 '20 at 1:38
  • maybe you can extend the little black box (eg by attaching a full size box to the front) or to the cable port.
    – Jasen
    Oct 7 '20 at 3:47
  • That question was so thought fully worded and is exactly the problem so many people are facing with those tiny junction boxes. The junction boxes on those LED’s are often 3 cubic inches and will violate code to have any other wires enter. Jan 31 '21 at 3:46

Don't even try to run the 3-way switch leg through all the lamp boxes.

Bring power into the "main" or more accessible entrance - the one where you would want to put a smart switch. Then, have a separate /3 cable that bypasses the lamps entirely and goes straight over to the other 3-way switch.

I have no idea why some sites recommend running the travelers through every intermediate light box... but this is very foolish for 2 reasons: #1 box fill, and #2 you would need /4 or /5 cable and they usually recommend using 2 cables instead, and that's a code violation. (heck you're using 2 cables anyway, why not just have one bypass the lamps altogether?)

Then, from that switch, you send "switched-hot" and "neutral" onward to the lamps, and daisy-chain the lamps in the normal way.

Mark your wires correctly

I recommend sending always-hot to the far switch -- if you do that, you MUST use white for always-hot, and you MUST re-mark both ends with black tape -- that's Code. I recommend marking the other 2 wires with yellow tape to designate them as travelers -- that's not Code, but it will make things vastly easier to hook up and troubleshoot later. (yellow = brass screws on the switches - get it? :)

If you're wiring it with travelers and switched-hot going to the far switch, you are not allowed to use white for switched-hot - Code again. Use red for switched-hot. Since you're using white as a non-neutral, you MUST mark it with a hot color - since you have to anyway, I recommend again yellow tape on both travelers.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.