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Installing a Door Light Switch

Hello, I want to install a door light switch for a pantry door that when you open the door a light will come on. Right now there is no light in the pantry and you have turn on all the lights on in the kitchen and dinning room to see inside it.

I plan on using a old American light rope I have with a mounting track to save money (pictured below). I am planning on using a Single-Pole AC/DC Push Button Door Switch.  However, the area to install the door switch in the door frame(pictured below) there is no room to run wires in the wall that ends right at the end of the door frame. Therefore, I think I can just mount the door switch at the top of the door frame using a electrical box. I also will have to install a outlet on the inside of the pantry. There is a outlet on the other side of the wall (pictured below).

Can I wire all this up and using a grounded extension cord and plug it in the new electrical outlet in the pantry?

  1. Would that be safe?
  2. Or would I have to install conduit?
  3. What do you think I will need to make this happen as far as parts?


Here is a link to the pictures. For some reason this form wont let me upload or link pictures here.

Hope someone can clear this up fro me.



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Posted 2014-12-31T01:35:35+0000  by EXCALIBURf EXCALIBURf


Just want to give you an update on the direction I went. I decided not to use the door jam light switch because there was no room in the wall to install the wires behind it and did not want to put in a box to house it. So I decided to go with a Motion Detector light switch (R01-IPS02-1LI) that will turn on when the door opens and turn off automatically when the door is closed or if no movement is detected after 30 seconds. It was the same price as the door jam light switch. I also decided to install an electrical outlet at the top near the ceiling to plug in the rope light instead of hardwiring it in. And I ran indoor NM-B wire through the wall from the outlet that is on the other side of the wall to the light switch and up to the electrical outlet. This way I wouldn't have to buy conduit.

The whole price came to be around $30.00 give or take a couple of dollars and I got a free pop-tarts at Home Depot for ordering online and picking it up at the store. LOL

Here are the pictures I took:

Hope it meets your approval! Thank you Joseph and Adam for your help!

Best Answer

Posted 2015-01-08T22:26:21+0000  by EXCALIBURf

Good morning Mike,

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!

Unfortunately, your link wouldn't work, perhaps your Photobucket account is set at private?

In any case, in terms of safety over time, it's really more efficient to have everything hard-wired (no outlet) and yes, installing it in conduit would be beneficial.

That doesn't mean you'd have to have regular metal round (EMT) conduit. You can use the more flatter and decorative surface-mounted raceway conduit by Wiremold that hides the wire and still looks better than anything else out there today.

To read more about using Wiremold Raceways, click here.

You can still allow for an outlet if the rope light has a plug in, but the switch MUST interrupt the lights, so make sure plan out not only where the source wire will come from, but how the switch will go to the light to safely control it.

The issue with the door switch (pictured below), is that the design of it calls to have a 1/2" knockout (KO) connector on it, so be sure that whatever wire/conduit combination you use, be sure the connector is in place, so no potential fraying of the wires occur.

Lastly, since this switch goes inside the door, be sure to plan out how whatever wire/conduit you use will connect to it safely. This means making holes and getting access into the door frame via drilling.

Planning and even sketching out where everything will go can greatly help make this switch work successfully.

Let me know if you have any further questions,
Posted 2014-12-31T14:00:29+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
Without modification to the framing around the door you're probably not going to have enough room to get the switch in there.  Because you have a "thin" wall it might be even more challenging, if not impossible.

The electrical code doesn't cover extension cords because they are considered "temporary" which means you should probably consider them as such too.  In other words, they shouldn't be a permanent solution.

I might consider coming out of that receptacle box and using a surface mount raceway like Wiremold.  Just put in an ordinary light switch in a surface mount box and a receptacle for you rope light or continue up to the ceiling a put in a light fixture of some sort.  Given how small that closet it, I would be leary of using an exposed bulb because of the possibility of it coming into contact with something in the pantry or being broken.

Or use one of those "as seen on TV" stick on lights.

Posted 2014-12-31T16:00:52+0000  by Adam444

Thank you Adam and Joseph for your reply and great suggestions. Sorry Joseph that my PhotoBucket link didn't work for you. I checked and it is set for public viewing. I think Adam was able to view them.

I think I will look at the option of using a surface mount solution and a raceway to hide/protect the wire that will plug into the outlet that will be installed. As Adam said the extension cord is "considered 'temporary'" and then if I can't use a extension cord from the surface mount box to the outlet then what other wire solution do you think I can use? Can I put a plug on a 14/3 NM-B Wire coming out of a raceway do you think? Or would you think a outdoor grounded extension cord ran through a raceway would be ok?

Or as Joseph said hardwiring everything would be better with out an outlet. But I am also looking at cost. I will have to see and compare prices too. Might be easier too to hardwire it all.



Posted 2014-12-31T17:27:08+0000  by EXCALIBURf
You can not put a plug on NM-B.

Wiremold can get a little expensive but remember you're dealing with electrical wiring that if done incorrectly can cause property damage, personal injury, and even death.  Whatever you spend on the materials to do the job correctly will be less than the deductible on your homeowners or health insurance.

What I might suggest is coming out of the receptacle box on the other side of the wall with a short piece of NM-B (I'm assuming it's approved in your area).  Stay within the same stud bay as existing receptacle and run the NM-B into the back of a surface mount Wiremold box.  From there go across and up with surface mount Wiremold raceway to a second surface mount box.  It can be a single gang (1 device) box for a switch and then continue up to a another box on the ceiling where you can mount a light fixture.  Or use a double gang box (two devices) and put in a switch that controls the receptacle next to it.  Then plug in your rope lights.  Inside the raceway you use individual wires, not NM-B.  And, no, you can't strip the jacket off the NM-B and use the wires individually.

Posted 2015-01-01T02:42:13+0000  by Adam444
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