How to install two lights in parallel

Written by dave donovan
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How to install two lights in parallel
If you connect the lights in parallel you can have one off and one on. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

There are two basic ways to wire two or more light fixtures together -- in parallel and in series. Most homes feature parallel wiring. Parallel wiring allows the other lights in the circuit to remain in working condition when one goes out, whereas series circuits are similar to a string of Christmas lights: When one goes out, they all go out.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire strippers
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire connectors
  • Electrical tape
  • NM cable
  • Romex stripper

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  1. 1

    Turn off the breaker that powers the circuit you will be using to feed the two lights.

  2. 2

    Bring the feed line into the wall box where the switch will be located.

  3. 3

    Run NM cable from the switch box to the first light fixture. Then run another line going from the first light fixture to the second.

  4. 4

    Use thewire stripper to cut and remove the outer sheathing on all of the cables. Then, use the wire strippers to strip about 2 cm (3/4 inches) of insulation from the end of each insulated wire.

  5. 5

    Starting at the second light fixture, connect the black ceiling wire with the black wire on the fixture and the white ceiling wire to the white fixture wire; then connect the ceiling ground wire with either the fixture's ground wire or the fixture's ground screw.

  6. 6

    Make sure each wire connector is tightly twisted over the wires and covers the connections with a piece of electrical tape. Stuff the wires back into the ceiling and mount the fixture to the ceiling box, as directed by the fixture's instruction.

  7. 7

    Move to the first fixture in the line and make the following connections: Connect the two black ceiling wires to the black fixture wire. Connect the two white ceiling wires to the white fixture wire. * Connect the two ground ceiling wires to the ground wire on the fixture, or tie them together with a pigtail, which will then get connected to the ground screw on the fixture.

  8. 8

    Move to the wall switch and make the following connections: Connect both white wires together. Make a pigtail connection with the two ground wires and connect the ground pigtail to the green grounding screw on the switch. * Connect the black feeder wire to the bottom terminal on the side of the switch, and the black wire that's travelling to the fixture to the top screw terminal.

  9. 9

    Wrap the switch's terminals with electrical tape, secure the switch to the wall box and install the cover plate.

  10. 10

    Turn the circuit breaker back on and test out your installation.

Tips and warnings

  • Never work on an electrical circuit while the power is on. Always turn the circuit off at the electrical panel before proceeding.

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