I have a basic understanding of electrical and have been trying to learn as much as I can over the past few weeks.

I bought a house with a basement that a few light bulbs on pull down switches with the power going into the first light closest to the breaker.

At the very end of the line with the last light I was planning on replacing that light fixture with an outlet box and adding a switch to control the outlet box after looking a lot of things up I notice that standard practice is having the power in go into a switch first then into any fixtures, I also saw that you can still wire everything if it goes fixture then switch but that seemed rare.

So what I was wondering, is it better to rerun the wire to my switch first or is going into a fixture first then a switch perfectly fine and not just a hack that works?

  • There are a few ways to wire a switch and it's not clear exactly what you're proposing (which conductor to you want to switch?). Anyway there are many ways that look similar on paper and "work" but the important thing is that when the switch is off there should be no voltage at any of the fixtures. If you draw a diagram of exactly what you're proposing (including the hot and neutral wires and how they're all attached) we can comment on your specific proposal. – Hank Oct 24 '15 at 22:22

What you are proposing is called a switched neutral and is not a good idea, as well as being against code. The problem is that if you turn off the switch, there is still power being applied to the light fixture. If you go to, for example, replace a broken light bulb (where the base was left in the socket), even with the switch off, you could be electrocuted!

You should add the wire loop so that you can switch the hot side.


I don't know how to put a picture in a comment but I didn't think the question was about switching the neutral, which is no good, I thought the q. was about a switch loop, should be no problem

Switch Loop

  • Is it possible to wire a "switch loop" with multiple fixtures? Looks like there can only be one, so that's probably not what the OP is describing. – Hank Oct 24 '15 at 22:22
  • If I read the q. right, the OP wants to convert the last light to a receptacle, and add a switch loop to switch that receptacle, leaving the the other lights on their pull chains. – batsplatsterson Oct 24 '15 at 22:51
  • Yeah OK you may be right. It's not clear to me that the OP has articulated their plans well but your solution may be appropriate. – Hank Oct 25 '15 at 0:12

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