I'm installing pendant lights, instead of wall sconces, for a bathroom vanity in a new construction home. However, I'd like to be able to have the option of adding the wall sconces and remove the pendant lights in the future.

Is it ok to leave unused romex wire in the stud cavity? This romex wire would be coiled up in the wall directly where the future wall sconces would be located. Doing this would make it easy to fish out the romex wire from behind the drywall. The romex wire would not be live until need be.

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    Is there a reason you can't put a box where the wall sconces would be expected to go, then run the unused NM run to the box and cap it off there? That'd make it more clear to the next bloke that this is provisioned for future use and not some garbage a sloppy builder left behind. Aug 28, 2016 at 18:49
  • I agree, I would keep unused Romex handy so you can use it on ither projects, Aug 28, 2016 at 19:07
  • We don't know the exact location where the wall sconces will go once the house is finished. That's the only reason we're not adding the gang boxes now. Aug 28, 2016 at 19:21
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    I also agree with @ThreePhaseEel. Wires hanging in a wall are not to code. With a box and access point they would be. - for this is the way it was done + to 3phase.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 28, 2016 at 20:31
  • If you have a loose coil of Romex wire totally unconnected.. leaving it behind a wall would be no more wrong than leaving a $20 bill in the wall. Why would you do either one? Aug 29, 2016 at 0:12

2 Answers 2


It is fine to do what you propose, as long as you are 100% certain that the cables/wires are not terminated at the feed/switch ends. This is very common. This is NOT burying a junction box or splice. There is no code prohibition to leaving a dead wire in the wall for future use.

I would however take photos of the area for your own records, and label the ends of the wires at the switch boxes just in case you don't follow through with this and the next owners find them. They may want to do the same and have a pleasant surprise.

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    +1. I'm pretty sure there's a requirement to label the cable at both ends, but I'd have to dig through the code to find the exact code section.
    – Tester101
    Aug 28, 2016 at 22:42
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    If there's any possibility someone could come across one end and connect it to power, it's not a bad idea to connect the black/white conductors together with a wire nut (and then use some electrical tape to keep it all tidy): that way, if someone does connect it, it'll immediately blow the breaker and indicate something is wrong. Otherwise, it'll just be energized in the wall and pose a hazard.
    – gregmac
    Aug 29, 2016 at 2:27
  • How about abandoning them in the switch box positioned towards the back?
    – Alex
    Jul 11, 2018 at 8:46

I don't know the code, but when I had my house built in Texas two years ago they did that for pendant lights over the kitchen island. The only difference is it was a working circuit with no load attached. They had the boxes installed and covered with the cables inside and nutted over and the switch was hot. There might be a problem with the cables terminating in the wall outside of a box though.

  • I'd imagine you got down-voted because you're not answering the question that was asked. Other than that, you answer is fine and would be a perfectly fine answer if the question was whether it was okay to leave live circuits capped in a wall/ceiling box (which is perfectly legal). Aug 29, 2016 at 4:11

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