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Replace 1 vanity light wtih 2 light fixtures

I have a single light over a double sink in the bathroom.  I'd like to change it to 2 fixtures operated off the same switch.  Recommendations on how to do the wiring? 
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Posted 2014-07-16T15:38:15+0000  by R1234 R1234
Hi R1234,

Thanks for joining us here on the community!

At the minimum, you'd need to run more Romex cable and another junction box to hold the new light in place. Both are shown below.

You will need to find the breaker leading to the light fixture and turn it off so you are working safely. Try to make sure the wire is the same gauge as in the wall now, be it in 14 or 12 gauge.

Usually in situations like this, adding another fixture means moving the existing one so both are centered above the sink. To do this, you'll need another box like the one shown above. Any wire connections must be placed inside the box itself.

Also, you'd need to repair the drywall where the box was. To read about patching up those areas, click here for more info.
Step 3: Cover the patch with joint compound and allow it to dry

The wiring itself is fairly simple and straightforward: black to black, white to white, and all bare copper grounds to be connected together.

Let us know if you have any further questions.

Posted 2014-07-18T12:09:27+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
The biggest challenge in this project is going to be the existing junction box.  Code requires that all connections be made in a box and that the box remain accessible.  The distance you want to install the new fixtures from the existing junction box is going to determine how you proceed.  I am going to assume that your home is wired with non-metallic cable (AKA Romex).  If it happens to be metal conduit, which actually may be better in this case, let us know and we can deal with that later.

It would be safe to assume that no electrician left more than an extra foot of cable.  So if you want to go more than say 10" from the existing box, you'll have to leave the existing box in place.  The next challenge is that the existing box is nailed to stud or piece of blocking between two studs.  In either case, you need to remove the box so you can get an drill holes, run cable, etc.  But you need the box.  Basically you have to rip out the old box, do your work, then replace the box (remember the second sentence of the first paragraph).

Frankly, it's easier and more expedient to remove a section of drywall 6"-8" tall extending to the studs left and right of where you want the new fixtures.  That give you room to work without having to drill and fish cable blind.  Do the electrical work, hang a new piece of drywall, mud, tape, sand, prime, paint, and finally hang the new fixtures. 

Easy peasy!

Posted 2014-07-18T13:53:42+0000  by Adam444
Thanks Adam and Joseph.  I appreciate the guidance - very straightforward.  I think the easiest thing will be to remove the drywall as you suggested.  I don't have enough extra cable and I need to locate the fixtures in 2 new spots (the current location won't work), so I'm going to use a box with a cover to add cable to run to the 1st fixture's junction box, and then run cable through the joists to the 2nd junction box.

 This is on the 2nd floor, so I have attic access. You said all junctions must be accessible -- does this mean that I need to put the junction box with the lid in the attic?  So it can't be covered by the new drywall,correct?


Posted 2014-07-19T00:57:13+0000  by R1234
Does the cable that provides power to the existing fixture come down from the attic?  If so, you have enough cable to mount a junction box on a convenient joist.  You can cut the existing cable anywhere along it's run to give you the slack.  Then run new cable back towards the fixtures.  You can then drill down through the top plate into the stud bay where you want to locate the one new fixture then across to the second fixture.  Is would eliminate having a covered junction box on your bathroom wall.  More work, but much more attractive.

Or, and maybe even better (and again assuming the cable runs through the attic).  Is to again put a junction box up there in the attic.  Then branch off with two cables, drill two holes in the top plate (in the appropriate stud bays), use old work boxes, and hang your fixtures.  That eliminates any need for drywall work.  The only caveat is that whatever fixture you pick needs to be fairly light.   Old work boxes are only rated for 5-6 lbs in a wall (but check the manufacturer's specs to be sure).  

Any of this help?
Posted 2014-07-19T17:17:33+0000  by Adam444
Sorry for the delay - I had to put the project on hold for a few days.  Finally got in the attic, and yes, I have enough slack cable from there.  So I moved the cable to straight down between the joists for the 1st fixture, and then ran a parallel cable back up, over, and back down between the joists for the 2nd fixture.  So no additional junction box was needed.  Thanks for your help!
Posted 2014-07-25T20:42:02+0000  by R1234
Hey again R1234,

No worries regarding the delay, we're just glad the new installation worked.

Please let us know if you have any other projects we can assist you with.

Posted 2014-07-26T13:40:01+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
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