I have a ceiling fan which gets a single nonmetallic cable feed from a wall switch. I want to replace the ceiling fan with 8 light sockets mounted on the ceiling.

120 volts, 12 gauge wire, 16 amp limit.

8 15-watt LEDs = 1 amp

In the ceiling box, I want to split 1 nonmetallic cable in into 8 nonmetallic cable out. Each out nonmetallic cable will be secured to the outside of the ceiling going to light sockets with switches, screwed to the drywall. So each socket can be individually turned off.

I could do the lights in parallel which would be easier, if there is a type of light socket that still passes the power along while the bulb is switched off.

Is this an allowable thing to install?

  1. Is running power cable exposed inside of a home room allowed? Or is there a type of cable used for exposed areas?
  2. How do I split the romex in an organized, easily handled way? Or is there a type of light socket like I described above?
  • 1
    Box fill is going to be an issue. 18 #12 conductors, plus grounding conductors will require 42.75 cu. in. of volume. A square 4 11/16" × 2 1/8" box only has a volume of 42 cu. in.
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 23:23
  • @Tester101 If I do the lights in parallel, can I fork the neutral and hot wires at the socket terminals to achieve the on/off effect without interrupting the flow to the next socket?
    – user193661
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:44
  • are the switches built into the sockets?
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:55
  • @Tester101 Yes, they are. So the wire going to the terminal would be forked from the main line.
    – user193661
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 1:01

2 Answers 2


NOPE across the board. 1) Any exposed wire must be protected by conduit, enclosure or it's own heavy duty armor, as in only proper Armored Cable can be used. 2) You may pigtail or split the Romex only within the confines of the ceiling box itself using a wire nut or similar approved connector & the box must then be securely & entirely closed.

Basically, you need to make & wire your own actual complete fixture. You wire it how you want & have just single leads attached to each member of the Romex, just like any normal fixture. If the fixture's enclosure is metallic or conductive, it needs to be grounded along with or in conjunction with the sockets. I suggest finding a cheap off the shelf fixture & adapting it to your needs.

  • Technically NM cable is allowed unprotected in exposed locations, as long as it's not subject to physical damage. Depending on the height of the ceiling, it may be allowed to run along the ceiling.
    – Tester101
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:54
  • You might be right, but I doubt a flat ceiling of presumed typical height would fall into one of those exceptions.
    – Iggy
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 0:59

Surface-mount conduit (raceway) is made specifically for your purpose, such as Legrand Wiremold. It will be legal, safe and ... well, not attractive but at least professional. There are several manufacturers making whole systems, choose one system and make sure your supplier has all the bits you need. You can try a lumberyard (Menards) but a real electrical supply (e.g. Graybar) will be cheaper and more likely to have everything.

You won't have 8 sets of wires departing the central box, you'll have 2. Each will go to a fixture box, serve the lamp there and branch to 1-2 more. All depending on how you choose to grid it out. A common red "wire nut" will suffice for 2-4 wire splices.

By "set of wires" I mean a black, a white and a green. Don't use Romex (wouldn't fit, would be awkward) use single-strand THHN.

Suppose you make it an "H" with the existing socket dead center and your 8 lamps spaced along the H. There are two T junctions. It'd be easier if a lamp went there but if not, no big... just use a Tee. You can't splice in a tee, so overshoot to the first lamp box. Another wire will double back, no big deal.

Those are standard lamp boxes so you mount your choice of an old-school lamp socket with the pull cord or a wide variety of flush-mount fixtures, even track lighting.

  • Wiremold is about attractive as it gets when it comes to surface run alternatives. Certainly better looking than EMT or MC cable. Track lighting would probably be the most attractive method.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 12:08

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