I have a single light controlled by a switch in my garage. It's really pathetic, so I decided to add some shop lights to the same switch.

Upon opening up the light wiring box, I found not 1 but 4 sets of wires coming in. And I was adding a fifth! Turns out this circuit continues to various other parts of the house.

Anyway, I added the new 14GA set, and wired up a new outlet to plug my shop lights into. Plugged them in, and presto! On they turn. Success!

Except when I turned the switch off, the old light turned off, but the new shop lights did not.

The current wiring setup is there are 5 sets of ground, all together and connected to the ground screw; 4 sets of black all together with one white; one black going to the light; the remaining white all together, with a patch wire coming from them and going to the light.

I'm somewhat handy with the electricals (at least that's what my electrician said!) - I just can't figure out what I did wrong.

  • 1
    Is the "light wiring box" the box that contains the light switch, or the light itself, or an altogether separate junction box?
    – gregmac
    Mar 28, 2011 at 4:43
  • It's the light itself. Quite a bunch of stuff going on behind that light!
    – morganpdx
    Mar 28, 2011 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the switch is at the end of the electrical run; the white wire that's connected to the black wires is carrying current to the switch, then the black wire coming back from the switch is connected to the light:

Circuit diagram

You need to connect the black wire for the new outlet to the black wire going to the light, not the cluster of other black wires; all the neutrals and grounds should be OK as they are.

While you've got the electrical box open, does the white wire connected to the black wires have black electrical tape wrapped around it? If not, it should; this will indicate that it can carry live.

  • Thanks! Let me see if I understand - I need to take the black wire going to the new outlet out of the group of 4 black/1 white wire, and hook it up to the single black wire going to the light?
    – morganpdx
    Mar 28, 2011 at 16:55
  • @Morgan: yes, that's correct. Updating my answer to clarify that.
    – Niall C.
    Mar 28, 2011 at 17:52
  • Great! As for the hot white, no it didn't. I'll fix that when I get back in there, however.
    – morganpdx
    Mar 28, 2011 at 18:45
  • Just FYI - Made the changes you suggested, worked perfectly! Thanks again :)
    – morganpdx
    Mar 30, 2011 at 22:56

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