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Wiring two switches to one circuit

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Posted by: from Toronto
1/23/2013 at 7:50:40 PM

We are doing the rough in for our basement reno. We plan to have it ESA inspected. I am just wondering if we can get some advice on the best way to wire two independent dimmers to one circuit breaker. One switch will control 4 sconces and the other 2 sconces.

One suggestion was use a 3 way switch. Would this give is independent control of the sconces?

Thanks,

Melissa

REPLIES (19)
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Date/Time1/23/2013 at 9:11:13 PM

The only info I can provide is if don't know how to wire 2 switches I don't think you should wire your basement and a 3way switch will not work.

Call an electrical contractor, because ESA will be hard on the inspection when they know a home owner did there own electrical you will have issues.

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Justin from Beaudry Roofing in Burlington
Date/Time1/23/2013 at 9:11:18 PM

Well I would suggest first by calling a licenced electrician. We are strictly a roofing company.

Good luck,

Thanks,

R. Beaudry

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/23/2013 at 9:11:31 PM

If you use a 3 way switch, one bank of lights will always be on. You must wire the feeders in parallel and the load side of the dimmers will run to each bank of lights.

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/23/2013 at 9:17:20 PM

There are many books on how to run wiring and if someone told you to use a 3 way switch, do not use them to help you wire the basement.

As previously stated, switches and receptacles are basic devices and if the installer does not know how to connect switches, chances are the wiring will not work correctly.

ESA only provide inspections, not ideas on how to wire. They do not check your connections or your circuitry. If it is wired wrong and the drywall is done, you spend tons of money wasting your time.

Before you close your walls in, hire a contractor or an electrician to atleast check your wiring circuitry.

There are 3 trades, DIYers should not tinker with due to home hazards, plumbing, gas and electrical.

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Melissa in Toronto
Date/Time1/23/2013 at 10:28:10 PM

Hi everyone,

We are hiring an electrician to do the main wiring. What we are trying to do is prerun the wire and install the sconces to save money on labour! So we just want to know how it should be configured and what to buy.

Thanks,

Melissa

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Steve from Bath Revival in Oshawa
Date/Time1/23/2013 at 10:28:30 PM

You don't need a 3 way switch if the switches are Independent of each other. 3 ways are for swithes that work together to control a light or set of lights.

Dimmer switches are wired the same as regular switches.

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/23/2013 at 10:37:25 PM

So wouldn't it be best to ask this question to the electrician who is wiring it for you? It would be easier for him to explain it on site. Also, if he is wiring the place, your pre-wire wouldn't require connections of 3-ways or dimmers at his point.

Here's a great book, pictures and all.

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Electrical-Code-Simplified-Ontario-Book-P-S-Knight-P-S-Knight/9780920312414-item.html?cookieCheck=1

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Date/Time1/23/2013 at 11:05:37 PM

Melissa

You have to understand your question from our perspective. From a tradesmen perspective this is so basic of a question that it makes us wary of providing any advice as we may be contributing to a situation where some knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge.

I, like many others, appreciate your efforts to try to save a buck or two, but really this is not where you need to be trying to save it. Consider this similar to owning an automobile. You would not be trying to do a major repair job on it yourself. You would be taking it to the garage or shop and having the mechanic or bodyman do the work and pay the $90 to $100 bucks an hour.

Doing electrical installation work is not like changing the oil in your car. That is closer to changing a defective switch or receptacle. What you are trying to do is rebuild the engine. What you are trying to do would likely take a journeymen electrician just an hour or so. It will take you at least double or triple the time, plus you would have likely had to buy some tools, etc. In the end you are 'spending' the same amount of 'money' (read product for value) and you still are not getting the level of quality that you would normally be paying for.

Anyway, I don't want to sound like I am admonishing you, that is not my intent. My intent is to get you to realize that in the end you really are not saving any money unless you think your time is not worth any value. If that is the case, you can come and work for me for free...

Cheers

John

John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/24/2013 at 7:54:52 AM

You know Melissa, we are only offering you and others like yourself some words of advice. If you are also a trained professional in what you do, I would not "pretend" I knew what I was doing to give it a go without asking questions, but a few points that you and every other home owner must consider are:

The safety of the current people inside, the future residents (yes one day someone else will own it unless it burns down), the neighbour beside you (if it is a duplex, or condo), your insurance company may not cover you, etc etc.

I just came from a home being flipped that was wired from a guy who said he has been doing it for years. Trained in another country and not following Canada's strict rules, he was running extension cords in walls (because that is what they do where he is from), connecting aluminum to copper approved devices, burying junction boxes in the walls, running pot lights off aluminum wiring, connecting his jacuzzi to the bedroom aluminum wired outlet and so on.

He worked for the seller of the home, I gave the buyer a quote of over $8,000 to fix all that mess he created. (not including ripping all the drywall down and rebuilding it). This is an extreme case, but never-the-less fact. All it takes is a few incorrectly installed wires to leave dead circuits without power, or cause overheating and arcing inside walls, sparks fly and homes burn.

Do you know how tight to turn the cable clamp screws before the wire shorts out? How far to drive the staple before it crushes and shorts to ground? How close to heating ducts you can be? How many devices safely can be added to a circuit? How many bedroom outlets must be wired on a $160 breaker? That deep freeze must be on its own dedicated circuit? How far back from the face of a stud must the wire be before it is pierced by a screw that someone wants to hang a picture on? Can you run near or on copper water lines?

Our code book has 900 pages and we (Master Electricians) don't know it all and some of us have been doing it for over 25 years. That is why ESA still inspect our work. 4-5 years ago, Masters could wire and get permits, today, they must be registered contractors showing $2 million in liability and showing that have up-to-date training.

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Date/Time1/24/2013 at 9:56:55 AM

Hi Melissa,

If you want to do your own electrical and have some questions, perhaps you should call a local electrical contractor just to come to your suite and do an inspection and give advice.

They wil probably do this as a service call, 65-80/hr. Also they may be able to point out some other potential hazards in your electrical not mentioned in your description.

If your friend is a certified electrician, he should be more than willing to come help... and give you this kind of advice.

Good Luck on your project.

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Date/Time1/24/2013 at 11:10:43 AM

Hi Melissa,

You have a lot of good suggestions. I would also suggest that you buy a book, from your local Home Depot or similar store, on wiring. THere are several to choose from but they would give you some diagrams, answers and a basic understanding of how things work.

In your situation, seeing that you will have an electrician hired for some of the work, I would suggest having him/her do what is necessary to wire to your liking. The added cost wouldn't change a great deal and you would know that it's done correctly.

It comes down to safety, so make sure it meets the code for your area.

Regards from the west.

Mark

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Kevin from J&K Renovations in Morrisburg
Date/Time1/24/2013 at 12:25:50 PM

Yes this would work but you need to make sure that you do not have more than 12 fixtures on 1 circuit.

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Date/Time1/24/2013 at 2:08:26 PM

Not necessarilly true Kevin.

This is why it is important to know the applicable code.

Cheers

John

John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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David from Chetco Homes in Fort Erie
Date/Time1/24/2013 at 4:58:20 PM

What more could anyone add? Ha-ha

Good luck, take the advice given. :)

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Melissa in Toronto
Date/Time1/28/2013 at 12:04:31 AM

HI everyone,

I want to thank you for all of your input. This is what I have agreed to...call me crazy. My husband is doing the rough in..I am arranging an ESA inspection based on his work. Nothing is connected to the panel..as per a condition of the rough in inspection. When(and if) we get a deficiency list, I have lined up an ESA certified electrician who will come and finish the job and pull their own permit. So, we will essentially pay twice for inspection. But, I felt it was the best way to go. You must remember I am dealing with a pretty stubborn "husband". He wanted to skip the ESA all together. I basically said...the house was half my investment and I needed the work ESA certified. We agreed.

NOW..he wants to wire for a new dishwasher for a future reno upstairs. Can I tie this into the ESA rough in inspection of the basement? Or will this be considered a new job?

Also, should I worry if he is replacing existing receptacles with new ones?

Luckily, he doesn't know where this forum is :)

Any advice IS greatly appreciated.

Also...is the term "pony" really an electrical term? He claims it is...quite annoying(and scary) to have a husband think he is an electrician!

Thanks,

Melissa

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/28/2013 at 6:29:13 AM

Certainly cannot call you crazy. A crazy person would not ask questions, nor get the ESA, nor the electrician.

Get the permit to include the dishwasher and cap it off in a closed box with a cover and DO NOT wire it under a breaker until it is ready to be used.

Replacing existing receptacles with new, not too complicated, but code requires TR or Tamper Resistant outlets in all areas except over 2 meters high and behind large appliances (counter top appliances do not count, they must be TR).

I must be crazy for telling you what is right and wrong, but some people want to do their own so they might as well get it right the first time, safely....

P.S. do not bundle wires together thinking it is nice and neat, it causes overheating and melt downs of the insulation.

Good luck.

Electrilight Ltd. Oakville

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Date/Time1/28/2013 at 10:56:02 AM

Hi Melissa

Part of me is glad that you are 'pushing back' and ensuring that the legal requirements of inspection are completed. Your approach, although more expensive in the end, is within the code requirements.

WRT the dishwasher, Robert is right on, just run the wire and box it off until the dishwasher arrives.

WRT the receptacles, a 1 for 1 replacement is permitted without an inspection. To differ slightly from Robert's comment, if the requirement for Tamper Resistant (TR) receptacles was not in place when the house was wired, then they are not required now. If this is new wiring, like your basement, then they are required. I do agree with Robert however that when you have an opportunity to update to the new standard it should be considered as a viable option. My only issue is if you have aluminum wiring (AL). If your circuits have AL wiring, there are nay number of mitigation steps that need to be completed before a simple swap of receptacle or switch is completed. If your wiring is copper (CU) then there are no worries.

To help you out with AL wire issues (if you have any), I have linked to an information sheet from the ESA. We use this sheet as a supplement to documents we provide to our clients that are looking at issues related to AL wiring in their home. http://www.datawisesolutions.ca/~navyguypics/AL_wire_ESA.pdf It is a bit older, but still relevant.

Cheers

John

John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/28/2013 at 3:00:16 PM

Hey John,

You should know (as a Master as well), when you touch old wiring, you have to bring it up to current codes, ie. the TR receptacles. One inspector here in Oakville already showed documents proving that point.

If an inspector had a permit in hand that showed 25 receptacles swapped out for new, he would require TR receptacles installed. In saying that, we've lived without them for 60 years, and the 220v systems in Europe don't have them often, which is far more hazardous than our 120v power, but if the inspector wanted to push, he would require all the newly installed non-TR receptacles to be removed and TR reinstalled, costing more money and time.

Caio for now!

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Date/Time1/28/2013 at 4:54:19 PM

Hi Robert

Just to clarify, the code is not retroactive... in other words it does not reach backward and force updates to existing installations. It is generally referred to as 'existing non-conforming'. If that was the case, we would be going around changing everyone's counter receptacles to GFCI, putting ACFI breakers for bedroom circuits, changing everyone's outdoor receptacle covers to in-use style, etc.

If you are replacing a receptacle because it is worn, there is no requirement to replace it with a TR receptacle; it is a repair, not a new installation. Having said that, as I mentioned in the previous post, I would encourage it being done, but it is not a code requirement.

Cheers

John

John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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