I'm looking for some help on wiring my bathroom remodel.

Cable coming from breaker into GFCI as the first receptacle on the circuit. From the LOAD side, I'm going to wire another outlet. Also from the LOAD side, I need to wire two switches - one for the exhaust fan and one for the fan light AND another can light in the ceiling. If it were just the exhaust fan and fan light, I know I could use 12/3 and this would be simple. But since I also have the other can light, I'm assuming I need to run two 12/2 for this, is that right?

For the fan: 12/2 from the first switch - blue (fan) to black, white to white, ground to ground screw.

For the lights: I'm a little stuck. Wiring from the switch to the can light is straight forward, but from the can light to the fan light - red (light) to black, white to white(?), ground connected to the other grounds from the fan 12/2, pigtailed to ground screw. Is the white to white correct? I'm assuming neutrals from the fan 12/2 should NOT be connected together at the fan housing, just connected to their respective neutrals.

And back at the box: pigtail hot into box to both switches. Fan black to fan switch, can light/fan light black to light switch. All whites (from GFCI, fan, lights) together. Grounds together.

Here's a rough drawing just to show the design, not how the wiring is actually connected.

EDIT: Or is there a way to use a dual switch with 12/3? At the can light: Romex red to fixture black, white to white, ground to ground, romex black wire nutted to the 12/3 that continues to the fan housing (basically passing through the can light without a connection)?

  • Does it have to be in that order? If you run to the fan/light first then from there to the can, you can use 12/3 to the fan/light and then 12/2 from there to the can.
    – KMJ
    Jan 12, 2023 at 15:48
  • No, I suppose I can switch the order. Physically the can light comes first so I thought it would be a bit easier, but not major to change the wiring order. If so, would it look like this? imgur.com/a/Tf3dDB8. The diagram is taken directly from the installation instructions for the fan.
    – JSOL
    Jan 12, 2023 at 15:59
  • Yes, that should work. You can do either order, just go for whichever is easier. The answer that proposes both back to the switchbox is also a great way to do this.
    – KMJ
    Jan 12, 2023 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


I would not make a triangle of cable. That is just asking for miswiring to happen.

You would be better off doing one of two scenarios, and honestly I like the first one a lot better because it'll let the next guy choose to control both lights independently.

Scenario 1: 12/3 from switch to fan/light. Black and red each control fan and light. 12/2 from switch to can light. Aside from allowing separate control of the 3 things, it would also allow the light not in the shower to be taken off GFCI.

Scenario 2: 12/3 from switch to fan/light. 12/2 from fan/light to can light. Simplifies and saves wire.

"But Harper, have you been to a box store lately? The shortest spool of 12/3 costs a fortune and I'll only use 1/3 of it!" Right, for that go to a real, locally owned hardware store or lumberyard. Most of them sell 12/3 by the foot, much cheaper than Home Depot's small-spool price. In fact, find your local lumberyard and electrical supply and never look back.

Lastly, can lights are all the rage, but they're just that - a rage. They remind me of 1980s hair... or those halogen torchieres everyone had in the 1990s that now are never seen. I think 20 years hence they'll feel dated, and people will be spending good cash money ripping them out to update their house's look so they can sell it.

  • or those halogen torchieres everyone had in the 1990s that now are never seen There is a really good reason you don't see those - huge fire hazard. At one point there was a huge "recall" which was really "we agreed with the govt. that these things are safer if you put a metal grid on top to keep things from falling in to the super-hot bulb". I never really liked any floor lamps - fire hazard or not - but people in rentals don't have a choice in the matter. Jan 12, 2023 at 19:50
  • Thanks for the feedback. If I'm reading correctly, your Scenario 1 matches above to what RMDman recommended, correct? That's the route I'm leaning toward at the moment. I'm not at all against using 12/3 - I just wanted to ensure I was wiring it correctly. The added can light was throwing me off, but only connecting the can light to fan light at the switch makes sense. Hadn't thought of that.
    – JSOL
    Jan 12, 2023 at 20:10

Your wiring for the outlets is correct.

Light and fan wiring as follows:

Power from load side to both switches. ( fan located in the shower )

12/3 to fan- black/black for fan red to blue ( or supplied color for light) neutral/ neutral, ground/ ground .

12/ 2 to the 2nd light as normal black/black white/white grnd/ grnd

In your switch box tie the red from your 12/3 and black from 12/2 for the 2nd light together and pigtail to the switched side of the switch selected for your lights. Then both lights will operate on that switch and your fan will be active on the other. Both outlets will be protected.

All neutrals together. All grounds together and pigtailed to both switches.

  • 1
    Thanks for this. The fan will be installed over the shower which requires it to be GFCI protected, so was under the impression it would need to be wired to the load side. Is this not correct? FWIW, I will have a vanity light on a separate switch connected to the line side of the GFCI so I'd always have the vanity light available in the event it trips. And in this scenario, the fan and the can light aren't connected together directly, only at the switch box?
    – JSOL
    Jan 12, 2023 at 16:09
  • I edited to load side since I got your information. Yes the fan and Can light are only connected at the switch box. No need to have them connected together in the ceiling.
    – RMDman
    Jan 12, 2023 at 16:31

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