Data's Blog

Archive for December, 2008

The Electric Wire Conundrum

by on Dec.06, 2008, under Misc Projects

One Switch, three plugs, one junction box. nine wires. What a mess! And I want to add 2 more wires to the mix, adding in a light fixture to the mess!

One of my projects that I get to do while helping my parents fix up their rental house, is adding a light fixture to one of the bedrooms. Until now, the light was just plugged in to a plug, with the light switch controlling the plug.

My project is two fold. One, set the plug free from the dictatorship of the evil switch, and two, put a proper light fixture in the center of the room, under control of said evil switch, where it belongs.

So far, part one is done. 3 of the four plugs, including the newly liberated one are now happily ready to serve at our beck and call.

Part two is proving to be a conundrum. For your visual pleasure, I have drawn a rough diagram as to the basic layout of the wiring in this bedroom.

Please note: The blue lines indicate the white wires… I could have drawn them white, but that wouldn’t have done you any good with it being a white back ground.

Also, to name the wires I’m using the format of device:wirecolor. For example, p3:white + p4:white means that the white wire from plug four is connected to the white wire from plug 3.

Here is the diagram:


As you can see, the wires from p2, p3, p4 and the light switch go to one junction box. p1 gets its power from the light switch.
The light switch has three terminals, two on the right side, one on the left – I can’t remember though which wire goes where.

To the best of my memory, the original wiring in the junction box was as follows:

Switch:black + p2:black + p3:black
Switch:white + p2:white + p3:white
Switch:red + p4:black (p4:white not attached, whether intentional or it slipped out while we searched for it, don’t know)

Setup was rigged so that switch would turn p4 off/on, rest of plugs stay powered

The current setup to get p4 free of the light switch:
p2:black + p3:black + p4:black
p2:white + p3:white + p4:white
plugs 2-4 ok

Keeping the above setup, now working in the light fixture and switch:


switch:black + p2:black + p3:black +p4:black
switch:white + p2:white +p3:white +p4:white + light:white
Switch:red + light:black

result: all plugs work, switch does not turn on light.

I have one more mix up to try, unfortunately I left the paper I wrote it on at the rental house, thinking on running over tomorrow/today to try it out.

I had the light fixture working up in the attic before we cut the hole in the ceiling and ran the wire down… which if I jotted it correctly on the paper, may be the solution.

So we’ll see – This will be updated once the working solution is found.


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