I am redoing a bathroom and onto my wiring. I am installing (4) recessed lights, (1) fan, and three switches.

I want one switch to control (2) recessed lights, the next switch to control the other (2) recessed lights, and the third switch to control the fan.

I currently have one wire coming up from the main breaker box (hot,common, ground) and would ideally hit the switch first before I went into the attic.

What is the best way to wire this type of setup? I have only done basic wiring (one fixture/one switch) and wanted to get some advice.

** Side note (4" and 5" recessed lights, IC rated, normal line voltage, and the fan draws 12 watts).*

[Update from OP]

A diagram would be absolutely great! Unfortunately I really need this broken down to me dummy style.

I am definitely never going to be an artist, but here is a quick drawing. Just note one thing, I can put the fan outlet on the same side as the light 2 gang box.

enter image description here

  • Do you want to run the wire to the fan directly from the switch box, or from the lights first? And do you want to run all the lights as a chain, or run two separate cables from the switch box to the lights? Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 1:36
  • I have full access so I can really run it however I'd like. I would prefer just to go to the switch first since it comes from bottom floor up through bathroom then will go up to attic for wiring the lights and fan. I am up for doing it anyway that is recommended.
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 1:41
  • @A.I.Breveleri -- you only need 12/2 for that Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 2:00
  • Could you add a sketch of the room including lights, fan, and switch locations?
    – Tester101
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 2:00
  • Oh and by the way, how do the bathroom receptacles play into this? Are they on their own circuit, or...? Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 2:00

2 Answers 2


If I understand your layout, you could wire it like this:


Chaining to all four lights like this requires the use of 12/3 cable for the first two sections, but if you want to follow Tester101's suggestion and add the extra conductor to the fan circuit for possible future use, you're going to buy some 12/3 anyway.

EDIT: Carl Witthoft is correct, the bathroom should be protected by a GFCI. I have altered my diagram to show a GFCI outlet with downstream protection.

EDIT: For Brent Self. The white wires carry the neutral, the black wires carry constant-hot and switched-hot, and the red wires are all switched-hot. Wires that end at a load are switched-hot. The other black wires are constant-hot.

Fault ground wires are not shown in this diagram. Fault ground wiring is extremely simple: at every switch, lighting fixture, fan, and junction box, all the ground wires are connected together. Also, every metal junction box should be connected to the fault ground. Also, where possible, every metal fixture or load part that a user might touch should be connected to the fault ground.

  • This is based on a description in an earlier version of Tester101's answer, modified in light of your pen sketch. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 11:44
  • NOte that code in most places (in the US, at least), require a GFCI unit for wiring in a 'wet' (bathroom, kitchen) room. That GFCI needs to be between the hot feed and everything receiving power in the bathroom. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:33
  • @Carl Witthoft is correct, I should have included the GFCI outlet. Fixed. - Experienced electricians note, I have no practical experience yet using GFCIs, please check my GFCI wiring. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 15:51
  • @CarlWitthoft Can you point to the code section that requires lights in a bathroom to be GFCI protected?
    – Tester101
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 16:03
  • @Tester101 If the lights are on a completely separate circuit maybe not. I admit to not being an expert on current code. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 17:56

Based on the new information, here's one way to do it.

enter image description here
Power to light switch box

This assumes power enters at the light switch box. If power enters at the fan switch box, the wiring will be similar enough that you should have no trouble figuring it out.

enter image description here
Power to fan switch box

For the cable between the switch and the fan, you can install a three wire cable instead of a two wire cable. Though you don't need the third wire now, it will allow you to easily install a combo device in the future (fan/light, fan/heat, etc.).

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