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Project Guide

How to Add a Wall Switch to a Ceiling Fixture

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Turn Off Power
Someone using a volt tester on an electrical outlet

Turn off power at the circuit breaker panel box. Use a voltage tester to ensure power is off at the outlet. Plan a cable path that crosses as few studs or joists as possible. You may have to cut an access hole to run cable through framing with a fish tape.

Mark Location
Man using a stud finder on a wall

If your project requires cutting drywall, use a pencil to mark the location of the hole (check for studs with a stud finder) and score the paper surface with a utility knife. 

Cut Drywall
Someone cutting a rectangle into drywall

Cut along the inside of the knife cut with a drywall saw. The resulting hole will be free of ragged edges. You can also cut drywall with a spiral cutting tool or a saber saw.

Run the Cable
Someone running yellow electrical cable into a new switchbox

Run the cable from the ceiling fixture down to the switch location. Pull the cable through into the switch box and secure it to the wall.

Tip: For more details on fishing electrical wire through a wall, see our video.

Strip Wires
Someone stripping the wire on a yellow electrical wall cable.

Use a wire stripper to strip the wires enough to attach to the new switch.

Wire Ceiling Fixture
Someone connecting the wires in a ceiling fixture.

To wire the ceiling fixture to the new wall switch, first connect the copper grounding wire to the fixture. After removing the black wire to the fixture’s lead, splice it into the new white wire. Mark this wire black. Then splice the fixture’s black lead into the new black wire.

Connect the New Switch
Someone connecting the wires in a switchbox.

Connect black, white and copper ground wire to the new switch. This grounding wire should lead to a neutral bar in the service panel. 

Tip: From the service panel, heavy-gauge copper grounding wire should run to one or a combination of the following: Cold water pipe, grounding rods driven at least 10 feet in the ground or a metal plate sink in a footing.

Add Switchplate
Someone screwing a face plate onto a light switch.

Restore power to the circuit and test. If everything is working well, finish the project by screwing in a new switchplate.