I'm in need of a new garage door and found that most contractors will only install new doors if there's a receptacle currently in the ceiling for it. The house was built in the late 70's and the garage is currently finished. There's 1 switch in the garage and 1 in the entryway into the house. The 2 switches control 2 ceiling lights in the garage and the 1 ceiling light (front of garage) is just about right where the receptacle for the garage door opener needs to be located. Please forgive my lack of electrical terminology in the question/description below...

Question is, can I install the switched (hot) receptacle next to the 1 ceiling light by tying in/splicing off the wiring to that light? The only information I've been able to find related to this made it sound possible ONLY if the power from the breaker goes to that light first (front) but if it runs to the other light (back of garage) or either of the 2 switches first it would not be possible. It's a finished garage, so I'm also trying to figure out how I would determine that without tearing up too much drywall. I provided an elementary sketch of a birdseye view of the layout of my garage and where the breaker/receptacles/switches are.

Layout of garage and lights

  • Do you know if the garage is wired with NM Cable (Romex) or conduit? Mar 22, 2022 at 12:33

2 Answers 2


3-way switch circuit are notorious for not providing the wires you need for circuit extensions. I would suggest that tapping the light circuit is probably a lost cause, because it is unlikely the power you need is there.

However, it's not really about distance. It's about access.

You have reliable garage power at existing receptacles. All you need to do is get to the ceiling, and a surface mounted conduit system such as EMT or Legrand Wiremold can do it. It's not particularly sightly, but if you need a posh garage, you'll just need to do the drywall work. I'm not a fan of "posh" in utility spaces - houses need utility spaces.


That does not sound like a good solution. The garage door would only operate when the light is on. You might get lucky and find that power was supplied to the lighting circuit at that light. You will need to remove the light and find out. More than likely you will have to install a new circuit. If so use #12 with ground. The motor for the opener would be somewhere in the range of 1/4 to 3/4 hp. I am assuming it may be a ranch home. If so you could possibly fish the wire in the attic. You will probably have a firewall between the garage and the house above the ceiling you will have to go through. The other option is to hire an electrician to do it for you.

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