Trying to wire 2 fixtures with power coming in at one of them. Can I run a single 14/3 from powered fixture to 2 gang switches, then branch from the powered fixture to the remote one? Thanks for any advice!

  • 2
    You do know that 14/4 exists, right? Jan 21 '16 at 3:54
  • Yeah 3PE has this one. Just get yourself some 14/4. Problem solved.
    – ArchonOSX
    Jan 21 '16 at 8:21

Wiring with 14/3

Based on your description, this would be the wiring setup. The yellow 'smudges' are wire nuts and the black ones are re-identified wires, grounds are not shown. Power coming in with /2, feeding down to the switch box with /3, and then going over to the secondary light with /2. I'm only showing this based on perhaps if you're trying to reuse existing wiring with a new setup as this is a working solution.

However, code-wise [ 404.2(C) ] this is no longer allowed. You are required to have a neutral splice at your switch box unless this lighting circuit will be located in a location where the switch does not serve a habitable room or bathroom, such as in an attic. So, as long as your lights aren't in a "habitable room or bathroom", you are able to go with this wiring diagram. [ 404.2(C)(4) ]

The other exception would be as long as you are able to get back to the box later on to add a neutral without disturbing the finish of the wall. [ 404.2(C)(2) ]

  • 1
    Good point about the neutral but the exception doesn't relate to "habitable" or not except obliquely. The exception for cable assemblies not requiring a neutral 404.2(C)(2) states"Cable assemblies for switches controlling lighting loads enter the box through a framing cavity that is open at the top or bottom on the same floor level, or through a wall, floor, or ceiling that is unfinished on one side." So, as long as one side of the wall remains uncovered where the switch is located, a neutral is not required.
    – ArchonOSX
    Jan 21 '16 at 8:19
  • 1
    @ArchonOSX Per the 2011 NEC that's correct. Depending on the OP's location though (and it appears that he's in Colorado by his username), the 2014 code has been revised for this exception. 404.2(C)(2) in the 2014 has been shortened, but is what you are referring to. 404.2(C)(4) is the one I'm referencing in my answer.
    – TFK
    Jan 21 '16 at 16:43
  • 1
    @TFK very good I see that in the 2014. My 2014 e-version is not searchable so I have been using the 2011. So either of the two items grants the exception. Happy Day!😊
    – ArchonOSX
    Jan 21 '16 at 21:02
  • @ArchonOSX Neither is my paper version or e-version. Takes a different kind of searching. Haha.
    – TFK
    Jan 21 '16 at 21:08
  • @TFK I guess it's time for me to stop living in the past. 😉
    – ArchonOSX
    Jan 21 '16 at 21:10

I assume you want to control both fixtures separately, since you said "2 gang switches".

Not with a single 14/3, you can't. A 12/4 would do the job. Leaving grounds and neutrals out of the discussion: you need a black for your always-hot down to the switches, the red for the switched hot back to fixture #1. To control fixture #2, you need a third "hot" and 14/3 doesn't provide it.

Edit: You can get 12/4 NM, that will solve your problem (but leave you no further room for expansion.) A quality electrical supply house will sell it by the foot. It's used for just this sort of application. It may also exist in 14/4 NM, but you're better off using 12 gauge wire anyway. 14 only exists so contractors can work fast and cheap, homeowners can afford paying 20% more for the good stuff, and have time to do it right. (14 works with "back stabs", 12 often doesn't and requires stopping to put

If possible, I really recommend fitting 3/4" conduit, preferably EMT, between your powered fixture and the gang switch. Now you can pull anything you want anytime you want. I suggest 3/4" because it's easier to pull than 1/2". EMT because it's steel so it provides a ground - that's one less wire to pull. Pull single-conductor THHN because it lets you pull exactly what you need for the job, Your local electrical supply can give you unusual colors by the foot, so your work is clear - I'd use yellow and orange for the 2 switched hots.

  • 1
    If the circuit is fused at 15 amps then #12 wire is just extra expense for nothing gained. We don't use it cause it's "the good stuff" we use it when we need a 20 amp circuit and the cost is required. The extra expense of pipe and wire is certainly not warranted here. Using non-tradional colors will only confuse anyone working on this circuit in the future.
    – ArchonOSX
    Jan 21 '16 at 8:28
  • 14/2/2 cable also exists (and may be a bit easier to find), though you'll have to reidentify one of the white wires.
    – Tester101
    Jan 21 '16 at 13:21
  • What are the traditional colors for 2 separate switched hots leaving a switch loop? Jan 21 '16 at 21:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.