Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I add a dimmer switch and new ceiling light fixture? I want to hang a light fixture where there is currently no wiring.
Answer: When considering to add a dimmer switch and new ceiling light fixture the structure of the building must be considered. NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products on Amazon and EBay.
The methods used to achieve this type of installation will vary according to your building structure and the location of the switches and light fixtures. Below are photos of a simple dimmer and ceiling light fixture installation in a two story condominium.
ADD DIMMER SWITCH AND NEW CEILING LIGHT FIXTURE
You need to determine where you will be getting power from and where do you want the wall switch to be located. In the example on this page I was lucky to find power in an existing wall switch where the client wanted the additional switch located.
Not all wall switches have a hot and a neutral. Some just have a hot and a switch leg which cannot be used to feed something else.
I used a long thin screwdriver inserted along side of the switch box to feel for any obstacles such as pipes or wood studs. A short piece of fish tape can also be used for probing into a wall.
I removed the existing one gang plastic switch box and cut a hole for a new two gang plastic old work switch box.
The existing black switch leg wire was temporarily identified with green electrical tape. The other black wires get spliced together. The wood stud on the left side of this wall opening is perfect for attaching the new two gang plastic old work electrical box for additional support.
NEW WIRING FOR NEW LIGHT
The access hole in the wall and the access hole in the ceiling were made using "The Grabowski Method" (Hold the Saw at a 45 degree angle) to facilitate the installation of a new wire to feed the new light fixture.
I had to drill inside the wall to avoid damaging the crown molding around the ceiling. A large hole was needed to fit the Milwaukee right angle drill into the wall to drill up into the top support plate.
I did have to cut holes in the ceiling and the wall to facilitate the installation of a new 14/2 Romex cable to the new light fixture location. I cut the holes at a 45 degree angle inward to make it easy for patching later.
This hole was made using "The Grabowski Method" of cutting holes in drywall. The compass saw is held at a forty five degree angle inward when cutting, to give a beveled edge to the cut out piece of drywall. This makes it much easier to patch the hole using the same piece of cut out drywall and some joint compound. Lately I have been using my Milwaukee Cordless Multi-Oscillating Tool to cut such holes.
The above view is the inside of the wall through the hole in the previous photo....
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