Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

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Shaun8484
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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:06 pm

Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

Post by Shaun8484 » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:46 pm

Hi,

I have looked through all the house improvement videos and can't seem to find what I am looking for. I have a pull chain light in the small unfinished section of my finished basement. I would like to add a wall switch for the light instead of having to walk half way into the room and try to find the chain in the dark. I think I should just be able to splice the 14/2 going to the light, add the switch and return to the light but I would like to hear from someone who knows exactly what they are doing before I go cutting things up. The added benefit is that there is no drywall in the unfinished part so routing or rerouting romex through studs wont be a problem. Thanks in advance.


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Aaron
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Re: Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

Post by Aaron » Tue Jan 29, 2019 4:58 pm

Very easy project. You just run cable from the light fixture box to wherever you want your switch box.

You can use 14/2 in Canada, and in the US if all the wiring is exposed and easily modifiable. But the new requirement in the US for permanent wiring behind walls is a good one, and one I recommend for everyone: for a switch leg, run 14/3.

Although you'll only be using two of the three conductors (red and black) for the switch, the white is hooked to neutral and is there in the box should you ever use a device that requires power to do the switching (like an occupancy senor or other "smart" switch). You could also tap from this box for a receptacle, too, in the future.

Wiring is very easy. Turn off your power, disconnect the light. Splice the constant hot wire of the light to the black wire of the new cable. Connect the new red wire to the brass screw of the fixture. Connect all the whites together and make sure you have a short pigtail to go to the silver screw of the light.

On the switch side, red and black go on the terminal screws. The unused white can just be capped.

Shaun8484
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Re: Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

Post by Shaun8484 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:26 pm

Thanks for replying Aaron, I am not sure I understand what you are saying. Are you saying to run the 14/3 from the light fixture to a new switch? How will the switch interrupt the circuit? Sorry if that is a stupid question, I am fairly new to electrical type stuff other than replacing switches and outlets.

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Aaron
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Re: Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

Post by Aaron » Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:52 pm

The way it works is you're redirecting current from the light's junction box down one of the wires to the wall switch. When that switch is turned on, it passes that current to the other wire back up to the light and turns it on. Only current gets sent down and up this "switch leg" or "switch loop" as it's called.

Note that your light socket has a pull chain... this same exact thing happens internally with that switch. The current goes to that switch first, and the switch opens and closes the current that goes to the bulb socket.

With you changing to a wall switch, you can keep your existing pull-chain light (which you will always keep on; you could cut the string or chain hanging down) or replace it with a lamp holder that has no pull chain/string switch. Those lamp holders (called keyless sockets) cost like $1.50.

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emtnut
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Re: Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

Post by emtnut » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:21 am

Shaun8484 wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:26 pm
Thanks for replying Aaron, I am not sure I understand what you are saying. Are you saying to run the 14/3 from the light fixture to a new switch? How will the switch interrupt the circuit? Sorry if that is a stupid question, I am fairly new to electrical type stuff other than replacing switches and outlets.
Picture worth a thousand words !

If you're in Canada, you don't 'have' to run a neutral to the switch. I'm really only big on running a neutral in bathrooms and for outdoor switching. It's those places where some people put in timers and occupancy sensors.
CEC or NEC, since your space is open, it's not 'required'.

If you do run the neutral, just run 14/3 instead of 14/2 to the switch, and you just cap off the neutral as Aaron said.
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Shaun8484
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Re: Adding a wall switch to a pull chain light

Post by Shaun8484 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:26 am

Thanks guys, that pictures helps out greatly!

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