I replaced a ceiling fan with a ceiling fan/light combo in a bedroom. Previously the fan did not have a switch to control it. Power goes directly to the fan and was controlled by a pull cord. I ran 14/3 wire from the new fan/light to the location of an existing switch that controls a single outlet in the room (for a lamp).

Due to space limitations (stud spacing) I cannot fit a 3 gang switch box in the wall where the current switch that controls the outlet is located. To get around this, I want to use a single gang 3 switch combination (15 Amp 3-Rocker Combination Switch). I understand how the wiring should be done for the fan/light and outlet (if they each had there own separate switch); however, since there is only one "line" terminal for the three switches in the new 3 rocker combo switch, I would have to pigtail the hot coming from the ceiling fan/light with the hot coming from the outlet.

Is it acceptable to join two hot wires coming from different locations (on the same circuit) without a neutral present, or will this lead to some kind of neutral imbalance? The neutrals still exist and are properly wired at their respective locations (fan/light and outlet).

I've attached a rough sketch of what I would like to do. enter image description here

  • I assume the existing cable between the switch and the outlet is 14/2. Can you replace that with 14/3 so you can bring that neutral into the switch box?
    – Mark
    Jun 23, 2023 at 17:32
  • Can you use a 2 gang box at the location in question? Jun 24, 2023 at 2:14
  • @Mark There's a chance I could replace the 14 2 coming from the outlet since I have attic access but I think it would prove to be really difficult
    – N.Wood
    Jun 24, 2023 at 11:16
  • There isn't space for a 2 gang box, but I found this online which may be another solution. 3 separate switches with their own separate line terminals. A little pricey but would reduce the amount of work substantially: kyleswitchplates.com/…
    – N.Wood
    Jun 24, 2023 at 11:19

2 Answers 2


What you have there is a ring circuit and that's illegal in the US because even when the switch to the receptacle is off, it's still getting power straight from the panel. (They use them everywhere in the UK, however, based on your outlet drawing, I'm presuming you're in the US.)

To fix that you have two choices:

  1. Delete the heavy black and yellow hot/neutral from the box to the outlet.
    • This will leave you with a switched outlet, though you may need a 14/4 from the fan to the switch
  2. Delete the switching of the outlet and the black & orange wires arcing across the top from the switch to the outlet.
    • This will leave you with two always-on outlets.
    • Since you now have a switched ceiling light, you no longer (according to code) need a switched receptacle into which you can plug a floor/table lamp.
    • This also means that you can use a double switch instead of the triple switch and relieve some of the congestion in the box.
    • If you do this, it's possible that one or both tabs on the receptacle have been broken off to allow for one always-on receptacle and one switched receptacle. Simply pig-tail the hot (and neutral if necessary) in the receptacle box and connect power to both hot-side screws.

One other thought:

"Due to space limitations (stud spacing) I cannot fit a 3 gang switch box..."

So, add a single- or double-gang box on the next stud over. You'll have to cut out a bit of drywall to drill a hole through the stud, but that'll allow you install a new work box (use metal, there are all sorts of reasons) and you can use regular toggle switches, big rectangular Decora™-style switches, even push-button switches should the mood strike. It'll also allow you to install a big box or two which always makes wiring easier.

If you do this, you will still need to eliminate your planned ring circuit.

  • FreeMan thanks for the great info. To clarify, in option 1, would the 14/4 wire be needed to run a neutral from the light/fan that would be connected to the white wire (currently hot but proposed to no longer be hot after deleting supply at outlet) that runs from the outlet?
    – N.Wood
    Jun 23, 2023 at 9:25
  • 2
    Correct, @N.Wood. You would need to carry the neutral from the fan to the switch box (where it's handy to have, but isn't required by your particular installation, but is required by code now), then to provide the neutral to the receptacle where it is absolutely necessary to complete a circuit. IMHO, Option 2 would be your better bet. You've got switched light at the door, so the outlets don't need to be switched unless you have other purposes for doing so.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 23, 2023 at 12:09

If they're both separately hot from the same circuit, there is no advantage to bringing both to this point and tying them together, and possible disadvantage in risk of something being hot when you thought you disconnected it. Not Recommended.

  • Thanks Keshlam. However, my question is more related to the neutral wires providing adequately for the two hot wires that join back together after branching. The advantage I gain is utilizing a single pole switch with 3 rockers to service 3 separate things (light, fan, outlet). If I don't join them I don't see any option other than trying to cut out a stud to make room for a 2 or 3 gang box, where the two separate hot wires would each have their own line terminals to connect.
    – N.Wood
    Jun 22, 2023 at 17:18
  • They should not join together again, period. If you can run a hot or switched-hot wire, you can and should run a neutral and ground with it.
    – keshlam
    Jun 23, 2023 at 13:23

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