# How can I combine three switched circuits into one? [closed]

I have 3 light switches in my basement. Each one operates 4 recessed lights. I'd like to get all the lights on one switch. Is it as simple as getting an appropriate sized switch and combining the wires from the original switches with wire nuts to one switch instead of three?

• With one switch, it is all or nothing. Are they all on the same single breaker? Commented Jul 8 at 13:24
• Are all the switches currently in a single box, or would you have to run new wiring and/or resort to smart-switch solutions? Note that the alternative is make one switch the master while still letting the other switches turn off two of the banks, retaining a lot of your current flexibility. Commented Jul 8 at 13:31
• You'd have to tell us more about your wiring arrangement. There's no way to answer with what we know. Commented Jul 8 at 13:48
• Are all 3 switches in one box? The answer below and comments are based on the assumption that they are. Commented Jul 8 at 16:54

You can determine if it's possible by checking the following:

• The lights are all on the same breaker. Turn off the breaker that controls any of them, and they should all turn off.
• The lights are not on switch loops. If you have one cable entering the junction box, with (usually) a black and white wire and those two wires, from that cable, are connected to one switch, that is a switch loop. That light cannot be combined with others in the simple way you want. To confirm that you do not have switch loops, you should have a bunch of cables with all their white wires connected together, each of their black wires except one connected to the various switches, and the remaining black wire connected in a chain to all the switches.

Both the above problems are unlikely. Multiple circuits to a switch box just for lights and ganged switch loops are not common. If you have either problem and want to solve it .... but with a lot more effort ... ask a new question with lots of detail.

Otherwise you can do what you want. Yes, the black wires from the lights that are connected to different switches should simply all be connected to one of the switches using a wire nut and a short piece of wire. The chain of wires connecting power to all the remaining switches should be removed.

I'm not sure what you mean "appropriate sized switch". Some dimmer switches are limited in power but most on/off switches are capable of switching all the lights you can fit on a 15A circuit. If you're using a dimmer switch for this ... ya, buy one that's big enough, or just replace all your bulbs with LEDs.

You'll also have to buy a cover plate with blanks where the disused switches were, or, leave them in place but unwired. If you can't find a suitable cover plate, use a Decora style switch for the new one, a Decora cover plate the right size for your junction box, and you can buy blank filler plates for the empty slots. You can also install receptacles in the empty slots, powered by the same circuit as the lights, but if you do that then the receptacles will need GFCI protection.

• One quick thought, filler plates for old-style toggle switches are available too, try web-searching "toggle switch filler plate" Commented Jul 8 at 14:05
• @Triplefault Ha! I did not know. And IMO those look nicer and are probably stronger than the Decora ones. Commented Jul 8 at 14:09
• Um, the suggestion to add outlets instead of blanks was added to my answer by someone else. Not sure I love it. A switch-height outlet next to a door is a trip hazard and a loose plug where a person swipes their hand without looking is an electrocution hazard. And I guess as long as we're making suggestions you could also add a Sponge Bob Lava Lamp Night Light Commented Jul 8 at 14:17
• @jay613 Feel free to delete my receptacle suggestion. Far too many rooms have fewer than optimal receptacles (i.e., not up to current code, but grandfathered) and/or poorly located receptacles. Obviously you wouldn't want someone to plug in something and leave the cord hanging across the pathway. But there are times a receptacle could be useful on a short-term basis - e.g., plug in a vacuum cleaner or a power tool or whatever. Commented Jul 8 at 14:40
• @jay613 I've been hanging around in Home Depot way too long.... :) BTW anything Sponge Bob is great in my book. Commented Jul 8 at 14:46