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How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

If you are someone who loves to read in bed before going to sleep or want to conveniently turn on a ceiling light on or off, a pull switch for your home can be awfully convenient. A great thing about ceiling light fixtures is that you can modify them to your convenience with little or no effort.

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

There are not too many tools that you would need and the whole process should take an hour at best.

Step 1: Cut off all supply to the ceiling fixture by turning off the switch from your circuit breaker

Step 2: Remove the ceiling fixture after carefully removing all wire connectors. Keep the open wires twisted for convenience.

Step 3: Unscrew the bulb from the fixture and pull the bulb socket free. Remove the top of the socket where the wires enter either by unscrewing a screw or by pulling off the top of the socket, depending on the design of your fixture.

Step 4: Try to figure out where you want to pull a switch that to be inserted. You need to carefully drill a hole so the attachment goes right through your ceiling light fixture.

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

Step 5: Pass the chain through the hole you just made and tighten the switch using the provided nut.

Step 6: Pass both black wires through the hole and replace the top of the socket. After you are done, start connecting one of the switch’s black wires to one of the house wirings. Do the same for the white wires. Finally, connect both the ground wires with each other and you are done.

Step 7: Screw the whole fixture back into place and restore power from the circuit breaker.

That’s all you need to do to get a pull switch for your home light fixtures up and running!

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

Need to add or change a light switch? These seemingly simple switches are the solution to any light switch problem in both new and old homes. With such a versatile and easy-to-install product, the applications are endless.

The wire-free switches and controllers can be paired in any combination. One DestinationLighting.com customer used the switches to create this advanced lighting setup:

“I have 4 recessed task lights & a large general illumination light that share than the main dimmer controlled power switch. The GoConex wireless switch is set to turn off the large general illumination light while the recessed lights stay on. One of the wall switches is located with the main switch, while the other is near the sink for convenience. Compared to other wireless switches I have looked at, GoConex is an excellent value and the wall switch does not require an in-wall box. More at, this switch mounts COMPLETELY flush to the wall surface under a standard Decora wall plate.” – Brian, a DestinationLighting.com customer

We’ve come up with a few other ways that a GoConex wireless switch can simplify your life:

Convert a Pull-Chain Fixture

Pull chain fixtures can be great for aesthetics, however, they are not always the most convenient. If you have a pull chain fixture with no light switch and wish to convert it to a switched fixture, GoConex is your solution. Simply connect a GoConex controller in the junction box behind your fixture, then place the switch wherever you’d like.

If you’d like to get rid of your pull chain fixture and replace it with a switched fixture, there’s no need to do any wiring to add a wall switch. Disconnect the old fixture, install the controller in the junction box, connect the wires to the new fixture, and install the wireless switch anywhere on the wall.

Create Accessibility

Standard light switches are installed at a height of 48 inches. Wireless switches can be placed at any height, making them an easy way to accommodate those who cannot reach. Since the GoConex switches do not require any wiring or cutting into the wall, temporarily placing a switch lower on the wall for young children or wheelchair-bound individuals can be done without causing damage to your home.

Correct Existing Switch Position

Have a poorly placed switch in your home? A switch hiding behind a door or in the wrong room is a common household issue. Correct this problem by adding a GoConex switch to a location that actually makes sense.

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

Child-Friendly

A GoConex switch would make a great add-on to your child’s top bunk or lofted bed. Attach the switch to the side of the bed and your child no longer has to climb a ladder in the dark. Up to three different lights can be controlled by one switch. One helpful combination would be your child’s bedroom, the hallway, and closest bathroom.

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

Convenience and Safety

Have a detached building like a garage, guesthouse, boathouse, or barn on your property? A wireless switch allows you to control the lights from the comfort of your home before walking across the yard at night. GoConex wireless transmitters have a range of 250 feet or 75 meters, dense materials like brick will decrease this range. If the distance between your home and detached structure is greater than 250 feet you will want to keep the wireless switch as a remote rather than fixing it to a wall.

Simple Wireless Switch Installation

Whether you want to add a switch, switch multiple lights, or control your lighting with a portable switch, GoConex makes switch installation simple. There is no need to cut holes, pull wire in the wall, or switch boxes to install. The switches can be mounted on any surface, including brick, tile, concrete, glass, and painted drywall.

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

Click here to learn how to install a GoConex controller and switch!

Stay Connected

Have a great application of your own? We’d love to hear about it! Can’t get enough lighting? Follow us on Pinterest and Instagram (@destination_lighting).

The pull chain on the porcelain light fixture can be converted to a wall switch very easily. You will need to install a new two wire #14 cable from the box the fixture is mounted to now to the new wall switch box. Remove the power to the circuit by shutting that circuit’s breaker off. The wire that is connected to the switch in the light fixture is the incoming “hot” wire. Disconnect it and re connect it to the black wire that goes down to the switch. Disconnect the white wire from the old porcelain fixture. For the installation of the porcelain fixture connect the white wire to the silver screw on the new fixture. Now connect the white wire that returns from the switch to the brass coloured screw on the new fixture. Mark this white wire with a small piece of black electrical tape to re identify it as not a neutral (code rule) but a potential “hot” wire. At the switch end make sure that the black wire is connected to the top screw and the re identified white wire (with a black tape marker) is connected to the bottom screw of the switch. Connect the ground wire in the cable to the new switch box and the existing fixture box. Install the switch making sure that the switch is in the off position and that the handle in facing downwards. Install switch plate cover, turn the breaker back on and you are finished. <><><> This project is relatively easy to do if there is already an existing wall box close to the pull-chain switch BUT ONLY if it already has the right wiring in it.

If there is no such wall box then a new one will have to be installed and wired. If you already know how to do that safely you would not be asking this question here!

For some relevant information, please see the related question below about replacing a wall switch by a pull switch. <><><>

As always, if you are in doubt about what to do, the best advice anyone should give you is to call a licensed electrician to advise what work is needed.

I have power coming in to a pull chain light fixture(beginning-of-run). it needs to stay in its current position. I need to borrow power from it and add two downstream STANDARD light fixtures, with a power switch at end-of-run.

The goal is to have the pull-chain light fixture, function independently (regardless of downstream switch position). The two downstream lights need to be controlled by the light switch at end-of-run.

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

1 Answer 1

So your existing fixture (assuming standard US wiring, you’ll have to verify) has a hot (black), neutral (white), and ground (bare) and has constant power. The additional lights will need 4 wires – constant hot to travel to the switch (black), a neutral (white) and a switched power that will come back from the switch (red).

The existing wire (assuming 14G wire for lighting circuits) is sold as “14/2” cable. The ground isn’t counted in the number scheme, so it’s considered to have 2 conductors. What you will need for the rest of the run is “14/3”. This new cable (black, white, red) will run from the existing light to each of the new lights and then to the switch box.

At the existing light, black connects to black and white to white, but the red will just be capped off and unused. Red will be power coming from the switch. In the future if you wanted the pull chain light to be controlled by the switch, you could hook that light’s black wire to the new red.

At the new lights, white will connect to white and the black on the fixture will connect to the “switched” red wire. The black wire of the 14/3 will not connect to the new light and will just “pass through” the box. In each box, all ground wires are connected to each other and the bare or green wire from the fixture.

At the switch, the white wire will be capped (unless you use a smart switch that needs the neutral) and the black and red wires will connect to the two screw terminals on the light switch.

Older wiring practices would allow you to do all of this without the extra red wire, but now all switch boxes require a neutral so you must use 14/3 to do it properly and allow for future flexibility. You could do this now with a mix of 14/2 and 14/3, but if you just use 14/3 you don’t have to buy 2 rolls of different cable and again, it gives you flexibility later.

Diagram added by request: How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

The “dotted” red wire is optional and if you never want the pull chain light to be on a switch it will serve no purpose. The white wire going to the switch is not used unless you have a smart switch but it is required by code.

In my basement, all of the lights have pull chains, and there’s no switch to turn them on/off, except for one.

And it looks like the light switch isn’t part of the loop. The light fixture is part of a chain of lights, and it has a separate, single wire that runs to the switch, and the switch only controls that single light. Turning it off doesn’t turn off the lights further down the chain.

So this might be a silly question because I think the answer is likely self evident, but I just want to confirm.

It seems the wire to the light switch can disrupt the power source to the light without disrupting the chain as a whole.

And if this is the case, as it seems the rest of the light fixtures are the same as the one with the switch, I’m hoping I can just wire in a switch directly to each light without having to mess with the existing wiring too much.

Greenman

Lifer

You might be able to wire the existing switch to control all of the lights at once. If the non switched lights are fed out of the junction box that has the switched light, it might be as simple as disconnecting the the hot wire to the lights and attaching it to the switched leg.

The other answer is a remote switch that mounts in the junction box, they make one that doesn’t require battery’s and works quite well.

Slacker

Diamond Member

Wireless switch with bulb adapter

There are some in there that are a bulb with the receiver integrated if space is a concern

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

natto fire

Diamond Member

How comfortable are you working with electric? As Greenman said, you need to take apart the keyless base that is switched and see what is going on in the junction box. You will have 3 or more "sets" of wires in that box if that is the case. One for feed in, one for the switch leg, and one for feed out.

The switch leg will most likely be a two conductor cable, probably Romex. I usually use the white for the switch leg and black for the constant. It might also be taped black, or even using a 3 conductor cable with the white capped off. Either way, it should be hooked up to the brass screw of the keyless fixture at that box. The feed in and feed out would be tied together black to black and white to white.

Obviously, even if you reconfigure it as we are talking about, the pull chains will still turn the lights off even if the switch is on, so you will probably want to tie or cut them out of the way so they don’t end up pulled in confusion.

If the box is exposed, you should be able to see how many cables are going into it without even shutting off the circuit and removing the fixture.

stormkroe

Golden Member

natto fire

Diamond Member

First of all, hello fellow white wire as common in 3 way switches, don’t like when I get into a place and someone uses white as a traveler. Second, thank you for making me re-read OP’s post and realize that I might be confused in what they are asking for. I assumed one switch to control the whole bank of lights, but it seems like he might want a proper switch at each light? Your 3 way idea is probably better if there are two logical places to switch the common area lights, like a bedroom or walk-out basement. Otherwise, no point in putting a 3-way in a basement. On the same token, no point in putting a single gang wall SPST switch at every single light, when the pull chains are doing that.

In any event, the OP seems to have been electrocuted, so we can’t really be sure what they want and the exact layout of the basement.

stormkroe

Golden Member

First of all, hello fellow white wire as common in 3 way switches, don’t like when I get into a place and someone uses white as a traveler. Second, thank you for making me re-read OP’s post and realize that I might be confused in what they are asking for. I assumed one switch to control the whole bank of lights, but it seems like he might want a proper switch at each light? Your 3 way idea is probably better if there are two logical places to switch the common area lights, like a bedroom or walk-out basement. Otherwise, no point in putting a 3-way in a basement. On the same token, no point in putting a single gang wall SPST switch at every single light, when the pull chains are doing that.

In any event, the OP seems to have been electrocuted, so we can’t really be sure what they want and the exact layout of the basement.

Actually, after reading the OP again later, I realized that he wasn’t actually asking to add a 3 way (the way I read it seemed that he was disdainful of there only being 1 light switch).
As to the white wire; how on earth does it make sense to do it the other way? You come down on the white with a SP switch, why not with a 3 way/4 way? Thanks for furthering the march of logic
Also, I hope OP didn’t die yet, he didn’t ever say anything about beers.

Side note, I stumbled upon a facebook group called Electrical hacks and something or other, it’s been a huge blast. Lots of people posting unbelievable pics.

We bought an older home there was an old ceiling fan in the kitchen with a pull string.So we changed it and put a new light fixture in .It works fine except we can’t turn it off.The switch in the kitchen turns on onother ceiling light in the kitchen.but not the new one. It is the only switch in the kitchen we tried the one in the hall to no luck.Hopefully someone knows whats wrong

2 Answers 2

You removed the switch for your light fixture when you removed the pull chain. If you want a switch, you’ll need to run a line from the fixture to a location on the wall where you can install a junction box and switch. This may require opening up your walls and/or ceiling depending on the access you have.

There is no switch on the wall. It’s annoying that anyone would run a light like that, but there you go. You may find they did that by taking a spur off of an upstairs socket circuit. There are 3 options to deal with it:

  • Dig into your walls and run a wall switch. This is a lot of mess, time, and cost
  • Install another pull-chain fixture
  • Install a radio controlled on/off switch and put the control on a wall bracket where you’d want the switch to be

If it was me I’d do the last option. Radio controls have come down in price to where they are very affordable. They are also pretty reliable and easy to install. Far easier and cheaper than ripping into your walls, and much more elegant than a pull-chain.

Check local regulations for restrictions and permit requirements before beginning electrical work. Per the NEC, the number of conductors allowed in a box are limited depending on box size and wire gauge. Calculate total conductors allowed in a box before adding new wiring, etc. The user of this information is responsible for following all applicable regulations and best practices when performing electrical work. If the user is unable to perform electrical work themselves, a qualified electrician should be consulted. How to Read These Diagrams

This page contains wiring diagrams for adding a new light fixture to an existing circuit. There are diagrams for adding lights to a ceiling fixture you already have and for using an existing wall outlet as the source for a new switch and light. Different wiring arrangements are included to allow for either the light or the switch to come first in the circuit. Also, find a diagram for adding a light from a switched receptacle you already have to include the fixture when you turn on the room light.

Wiring a New Switch and Light from an Outlet

In this diagram power is taken from an existing wall outlet for a new switch and light fixture. The switch comes first in the new part of the circuit and new 2-wire cable is run to it from the outlet. From the switch, new 2-wire cable is run to the new light location.

The neutral for the new light is taken from the receptacle and spliced to the new white wire and to a pigtail that connects back to the receptacle. Likewise, the source hot is removed from the receptacle and spliced to the new black wire and a pigtail connecting back to the hot terminal on the outlet.

At the switch, the black wire from the outlet is connected to one terminal on the switch and the black wire running to the new light is connected to the other. The white wire from the receptacle is spliced to the white wire going to the light, it doesn’t connect to the switch in this diagram. At the light, the black wire connects to the hot terminal on the fixture and the white connects to the neutral terminal.

Wiring a Switch and Light in a Double Outlet Box

This diagram is similar to the one above, but both the receptacle and the new switch are in the same box at the end of a household circuit. When adding a new switch like this, a new double-gang box will have to be installed if a single outlet is used for the source. If there are two outlets in a box, one can be removed and a switch installed in its place to control a new light.

In this wiring, the hot source wire is taken from the receptacle and spliced to two pigtail wires. One pigtail is connected to the a switch terminal and the other connects back to the hot on the receptacle. The other switch terminal is connected to the black wire running to the new light. The source neutral is taken from the outlet and spliced with a pigtail back to the outlet neutral and to the white wire running to the light neutral terminal.

Wiring a New Light and Switch Loop from an Outlet

This drawing shows the wiring for adding a new light and switch with the fixture coming first in the circuit. New cable is run from the receptacle to the new fixture location and a switch loop cable is run from there to the new switch location. The switch loop is a 3-wire cable to comply with NEC requirements of a neutral in all new switch boxes.

At the receptacle, the always-hot wire is spliced to the black wire on the light fixture cable, and to a pigtail that connects back to the hot terminal on the wall outlet. At the light fixture box, the black wire is spliced with the black wire running to the switch. At the switch, the black wire is connected to the new switch.

Back at the source, the neutral wire is spliced to the white wire running to the light and to a pigtail connecting back to the receptacle neutral terminal. At the fixture, the white connects to the neutral terminal on the light. The red wire from the switch loop is connected to the hot terminal on the light and at the other end to the new switch. The white wire is capped with a wire nut in the new switch box.

Wiring a New Light from a Switched Outlet

The wiring in this diagram is for adding a new light fixture to a switched outlet, i.e. one that is hot only when a switch is on. These are commonly used to turn a table or floor lamp on and off from a wall switch.

New 2-wire cable is run from the receptacle to the new light fixture. At the receptacle, the wires are removed and each one is spliced to the new cable and back to the receptacle with a pigtail splice. At the light fixture box, the black wire connects to the hot terminal and the white connects to the neutral terminal.

Wiring to Add New Lights from an Existing Fixture

In this diagram, two new light fixtures are added to one that already exists. New 2-wire cable is run from the existing light fixture box to the first new box. From there, new 2-wire cable is run to the second new light box. If desired, more lights can be added after that by running new cable to each new light box.

At the existing light, the hot and neutral wires are removed from the fixture terminals and spliced to the new cable wires running to the first new light. A pigtail is also added to the splice to allow for reconnecting the existing light back into the circuit. At the first new light, the wires are spliced to the new cable running to the next light and to a pigtail to connect the first new light. If you want to add more lights after the second new one in this diagram, they can be spliced into the circuit in the same way.

Wiring a New Light from an Existing Switch

This wiring illustrates how to add a new light fixture from an existing switch instead of from the light fixture. In this circuit, the neutral and ground wires running to the new light are spliced in the switch box with the wires running to the existing light. The black wire running to the light is taken from the switch and spliced with: a pigtail back to the switch, the black wire running to the new light, and the black wire running to the existing light. The switch will now control both light fixtures in the circuit.

Wiring Diagram for a New Switch and Light

In this diagram, a new switch and light are added to an already existing light switch. The source for this circuit is at an already existing light fixture and a 3-wire switch loop run from there, to the switch box. This 3-wire switch loop satisfies the NEC requirement of a neutral in the switch box.

At the switch location, a new double-gang box is installed to allow room for a second switch to control the new light. This arrangement will allow for controlling each light separately.

The hot from the switch loop is spliced with a pigtail to both switches. New 2-wire cable is run from the switch box to the new light fixture location. The neutral wire from the switch loop is spliced to the new white wire. The black wire is connected to the other terminal on the new switch and to the hot terminal on the new light.

Response by poster: Okay – so I found the pendant, the image was from Bijou and Boheme and the pendant is the Hicks Pendant, a cheaper alternative (though practically the same) is this pendant by Restoration Warehouse. But still need help with the rewiring question.

Thanks!
posted by xicana63 at 6:22 AM on November 7, 2013

Although I have done wiring projects in my house, I’m not the person to tell you how to do it. I will say that the complexity of this task varies radically with where that ceiling junction box is placed relative to things like your attic. Fishing wires through the space between joists is annoying.

You’re saying that right now, the switch controls the wall outlet, but you’d like it to also control the ceiling junction box that the overhead light is mounted to? You wouldn’t consider a pendant-type light that hangs by a hook and has a cord and chain over to the wall plug?
posted by aimedwander at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can I do this myself or do I need an electrician?

You don’t necessarily need an electrician to swap out a light fixture, but electricity is dangerous and you shouldn’t attempt it without having first assisted someone else who knows what they’re doing a few times. It’s not difficult, but there are plenty of opportunities to make really bad mistakes, and it’s best to be confident enough in your abilities to not make them.

Do you have access to your breaker box? Can you positively identify which breaker the light switch is on? If the answer to either of these questions is "no", you need an electrician.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

I apologize. I misunderstood what you were describing.

If you’re trying to change a light that was previously plugged into an outlet to one that’s permanently wired into a wall switch, you need to call a licensed electrician.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:38 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

You need to run wire from the ceiling fixture to the wall switch. The most aesthetically pleasing way is underneath the wall surface; you’ll have to cut or smash holes 3-6" in diameter every few feet in order to feed the wire using a fish tape or equivalent. Messy, but easily patched when you’re done. As far as reconfiguring the outlet, it’s not hard, but it’s going to depend on the path (i.e. panel-outlet-switch is different than panel-switch-outlet). Either way can be reconfigured.

Code-wise, it may be sketchy. Ceiling lights are supposed to be on a separate circuit from wall outlets; if you have an appliance go nuts, start a fire, and trip the breaker, the ceiling lights should remain on to assist egress. But in the grand scheme of things nobody’s going to notice, and it’s not going to directly create a safety hazard (presuming your work is decent quality).

(Qualifications: one semester residential wiring,

one year laborer on construction site assisting electricians, multiple remodels, so I guess I’m pretty confident in my work. I don’t think of it as technically challenging: wire goes from A to B, make sure it’s reasonably secure, make good connections, use at least the minimum AWG for your components. But if you have anybody with any experience, it’s good to get their assistance if you can.)
posted by disconnect at 7:48 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

The wiring part of this is not complicated, though you want to be very careful with electricity. At the very least, carefully read through a book on basic wiring that covers how things are done to code in your jurisdiction. Turn off the breaker (and test where you actually want to work) before starting.

The tricky part is getting the wires through the wall and ceiling and installing the box without completely tearing out the drywall.
posted by ssg at 7:50 AM on November 7, 2013

Here’s the thing. By the time you get the tools you’ll need, climb up on a ladder, curse a blue streak, slice open your thumb and spend the better part of a Saturday with this project, you could hire a professional to do it in about an hour.

Our time, even our leasure time, is worth something.

I’d get a list together of little electrical projects I’d like done around the house, and then call a licensed electrician. You won’t be sad.

Here’s one that’s similar and a bit less. Hudson Valley Lighting.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:10 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

To clarify my earlier answer a bit: if you have an attic that gives you access tot he back side of the ceiling, you can do this yourself. Turn off that circuit. Go up to the attic, and clear the insulation away from the junction box and the space between the studs that makes a vertical channel down to the light switch in question. You take the switch box entirely out of the wall so that you can see light when you peer down from the attic, and use a fish tape to probe down though there until you’ve got one end in the attic and the other in the room. Pull your appropriate electrical line (I’m not going to assume about your local code, that’s you business) up, using the fish tape, and string it across to the junction box (look at your local code and at how all the other electrical lines in your attic are treated for how to get it safely across the joists – again, I’m not going to make assumptions) Connect, following standard junction-box instructions. Now (if you’re me) you freak out and refuse to turn the breaker back on until somebody else has double-checked your work. Annoying, but it’s probably safer that way. Note that I did make assumptions about your local code, namely that the homeowner is allowed to work on their own house at all.

Otherwise, you just purchase your pendant fixture of choice, a length of matching brass chain and an aesthetic choice of wire/cord/plug, and a few ceiling hooks. In the wiring space where you’d usually be connecting the luminaire to the ceiling, connect it to the extension cord. Use a dremel tool to cut a notch in the brass ceiling cover and allow the cord out. Use the existing assembly to mount the luminaire to the junction box for support. Weave the cord through the chain, drape the chain on ceiling hooks (never want to put strain on the cord itself) and plug it in at the wall.
posted by aimedwander at 5:46 AM on November 8, 2013

I am a licensed electrician.

In order to do this successfully, you need to run new wire, and disconnect to existing switch leg. You also likely need to replace (or install a pig-tail) on the receptacle that is currently controlled by the switch.

I am all for people learning electrical, and I support DIY. But seriously, if you are unsure about this – then hire a professional. This is not a good first time electrical project. This is a fairly involved project, and doing it wrong could create a fire hazard.
posted by Flood at 7:22 AM on November 8, 2013

February 9, 2009 | by Fred (email) |

Last week I described how an outlet should be wired for switch control when the voltage enters the circuit at the outlet. This setup is how our master bedroom was wired before I installed an overhead ceiling fan. As promised, I detail below how to modify this wiring setup with minimal effort so that the switch can instead control an overhead fixture. Later this week, I’ll post some before and after pics from our ceiling fan installation. Before we get started, let’s briefly review last week’s diagram:

Review of Switched Outlet Wiring (Power Enters at the Outlet)

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

In this diagram, voltage enters the circuit at location (A) in a standard 2-wire (+ground) Romex. The white neutral wire from this Romex is connected directly to the silver terminals on the receptacle (E), and the black hot wire is connected to the white wire running to the switch (B). The white and black wires from this Romex are connected to the switch (C). The black wire at the switch is now switched hot which is run back to the receptacle and connected to the gold terminal (D). The result: the outlet is only hot when the switch is turned on.

Notice that in this diagram, the neutral wire never leaves the receptacle box. Voltage exits the receptacle box on the white wire to the switch, and then returns as switched power on the black wire, both in the same Romex cable.

To rewire this circuit to control an overhead fixture, we need to get both hot and neutral to the switch box, and ultimately out a second Romex to an overhead fixture. We do this by repurposing the Romex between the receptacle and the switch, and adding an additional Romex to the overhead fixture. Here’s how the wiring diagram changes:

Rewire a Switch to Control an Overhead Fixture

How to add a wall switch to light fixture controlled by a chain

Diagram Explanation

  • Step 1: We need to alter the wiring in the receptacle box to move hot, neutral, and ground up to the switch. To do this, we use the receptacle as a bridge for the hot and common wires. For both Romex’s in the receptacle box, the black wires are wired to the brass terminals, the white wires to the silver terminals, and the ground (copper) wires are nutted together and attached with a pigtail to the receptacle itself.
  • Step 2: Add an additional piece of Romex from the switch box to the overhead fixture. This Romex should be sufficient gauge for the current (12 gauge for 20 amp circuits, 14 gauge for 15 amp circuits). In our diagram we add 2-wire Romex with the intention that all of the voltage traveling to the overhead fixture will be switched. We could also add 3-wire Romex and have one switched hot wire, and one constant hot wire running to the overhead fixture. (This would be useful, for instance, if we were installing a fan with a separate fan and light control).
  • Step 3: Wire nut the neutral wires from both Romex’s in the switch box together. (This sends neutral up the wire to the fixture). Connect the black wires from each Romex in the switch box to the switch. (The black wire running up to the overhead fixture is now switched hot. Wire nut the ground wires together and add a pigtail to connect the switch.

Additional Notes

  • Note that once hot and neutral are both at the switch, we have a lot of options for expanding this circuit. We could split the hot wire onto two switches that run to an overhead fixture. This could be used to give us independent control of a fan and light fixture. (Alternatively, modern technology gives us the ability to retrofit the switch with a “smart switch” that will independtly control the fan and light on a traditional two-wire circuit).
  • It goes without saying: Only perform this work if you are qualified (and licensed if necessary) and always turn off the power at the breaker panel before you start work.

ProTool Reviews has a similar guide for wiring a ceiling fan that accounts for several different scenarios- pull chains, multiple switches and more. If this article hasn’t answered all your questions, check out their guide and helpful diagrams.