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I have 3 pull chain lights in my unfinished basement that all have their power coming into them from above, likely all from different sources. I want to connect these 3 lights together onto a single switch. Is this possible without removing their power source's cables and what would the wiring look like for this?

2 Answers 2

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Smart switches. And the wiring looks like nothing at all.

The fast answer is to use smart bulbs designed to talk to smart switches. You leave the smart bulbs powered 24x7 and software-tie them to a compatible smart switch.

Darn... tech sure makes hard problems easy!

Otherwise, it probably means abandoning the original wires and feeding a switched line.

Just forget the old cables (except at the "first" light). A /3 cable runs from the first light to the new switch location. Then new /2 cables run from the "first" light to other lights.

Of course this is a lot of wiring. The old wiring to each lamp (except the first) could be salvaged and reused, so you don't have to pay today's prices for wire.

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  • How long do the electronics in smart switches and bulbs tend to last these days? Is a ground required at both the switch and the light outlet for the 'smart' stuff to work?
    – TylerH
    Feb 10, 2022 at 14:49
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    @TylerH A ground is only ever required for safety, how could a ground possibly be required for the operation of a switch or light?
    – Glen Yates
    Feb 10, 2022 at 15:55
  • @GlenYates Sorry, I was confusing that with an available neutral wire... early in the morning. Many cases of upgrading to smart wires hit speed bumps due to not having an available neutral due to it being used for something else, e.g. traveler or something.
    – TylerH
    Feb 10, 2022 at 15:59
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    If you're using the neutral as a traveler, @TylerH, you're doin' it wrong. It can (well, could) be used as the always hot (remarked white wire with black tape) in a switch loop.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 10, 2022 at 16:15
  • @FreeMan Yes, sounds like it was the "or something", then :-)
    – TylerH
    Feb 10, 2022 at 16:35
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The first question is: how much are you willing to spend in order to avoid "removing their power source's cables"?

There are various options, including:

  1. Use a 3-pole switch: disconnect the 'hot' wire from each light, and run 2-conductor wire w/ground of at least the same AWG to and from the switch. The wire AWG must be rated for the circuit breaker's current rating (14AWG for 15A, 12AWG for 20A) for fire safety.
  2. Add an electrical box containing a relay at each light. Run light-duty wire between the relay coils; the single switch turns the relays on / off. Probably simplest to use 120VAC coil relays. Assuming you (or a future homeowner will) use incandescent light bulbs, which take large current surges when turned on and may momentarily arc / short when failing, the relays should be rated to survive that.
  3. Smart bulbs as suggested in another post
  4. Single cable from one power source, as suggested in another post

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