How to Add a Lighting Circuit to Your House

Written by markg
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How to Add a Lighting Circuit to Your House
Adding a lighting circuit is a simple home improvement project. (bulb image by Daria Miroshnikova from

Wiring ceiling lights controlled by a wall switch requires the patience to thread electrical cables behind walls and over ceiling joists. In this configuration the power is supplied by tapping into an existing electrical socket, running wires to the light fixture and finally to the light switch. This is the easiest way to wire a circuit when the switch and power supply are not near each other.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Keyhole saw or utility knife
  • Fish tape for threading cable
  • Two-wire nonmetallic cable
  • Screwdriver
  • Light switch
  • Switch box
  • Light fixture
  • Fixture junction box and mounting hardware
  • Electrical connectors

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  1. 1

    Shut off the power to the circuit that you will be tapping into.

  2. 2

    Make the cuts for the switch and the fixture. The hole for the ceiling fixture should be about 6 inches in diameter and centred between two ceiling joists so you can attach the junction box to the joists. Use the switch box as a template for the switch hole.

  3. 3

    Make the wiring cuts. To make threading the cable easier, make 1x2 cuts directly above the switch and the power supplying outlet where the wall and ceiling meet.

  4. 4

    Install the fixture and switch mounting hardware. Attach a brace bar between two ceiling joists and attach the junction box to the bar. The switch box can be is mounted directly on the drywall.

  5. 5

    Run electrical cable from the switch to the fixture. Thread fish tape through the hole near the ceiling then across the ceiling to the fixture junction box. Attach electrical wires to the fish tape and pull it back toward the hole. Drop the cable down to the switch box.

  6. 6

    Run the cable from the power supply to the fixture in the same manner.

  7. 7

    Connect the wires at the outlet. Make a pigtail for the black and white wires by attaching a short piece of wire to the terminals on the outlet and connecting the other wires to those short wires. There will be incoming black wires supplying power to the outlet and black wires leading away from the outlet to the fixture connected to the pigtail. Do the same for the neutral wires.

  8. 8

    Connect the wires at the switch. Connect the black and white wires to the terminals on the switch. Mark the white wire with a piece of electrical tape to show that it is "hot."

  9. 9

    Complete the wiring at the light fixture. Mark the white wire coming from the switch with electrical tape to show it is hot. Connect this marked white wire to the black wire of the light fixture. Connect the white wire from the power supply to the light fixture. Connect the remaining black wires together. Ground the fixture to the junction box.

  10. 10

    Following the manufacturer's instructions, attach the fixture to the ceiling junction box. Use a drywall patch kit to repair any holes.

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