Running power to the switch box was a pro-tip I was taught, and it really made electrical wiring easy to troubleshoot.

Note, this rule is for general purposes, like basic lighting wiring, but there are times to run power to a lightbox, like if it’s a smoke detector.

Never Run Power to an Octagon Light Box (Video)

What We Cover in this Article:

  • How a Light Switch and Light Box Work
  • Why You Should Run Power to a Low-Height Switch/Plug

How a Light Switch and Light Box Work

When in the electrical rough-in stage, and pulling wires, we either pull home runs (the wires from the electrical panel that feed the rest of the circuit), or branch circuity (jumpers).

When pulling home runs, it’s important we think about troubleshooting, convenience, and workflow.

Sometimes a customer wants to ADD a plug or a separate light switch, and the most convenient place to pull your power home run is to the light switch box that is lower down for this reason, because it’s easy to access!

Single Gang Electrical Box (Banana Box)
This is a single gang electrical box which is installed on inside walls. It’s our most common box for single switches or plugs. View Single Gang Electrical Boxes!

From the start.. You’d pull your home run wire from the electrical panel, to the switch box. From the switch box, you’d then pull your switch leg to the octagon light box.

To have multiple lights controlled by one switch, just pull wires from the octagon box to the different lights, and splice them in the octagon light box! It’s as simple as that!

The same goes for 3-way switches.. keep all your technical wiring from switch box to switch box.. (3-Way Switches on Wikipedia! .. Great diagrams!)

Why You Should Run Power to a Low-Height Switch/Plug

Long story short.. it’s all about making things easy in the troubleshooting stage.

Most electricians don’t think about “what if”, they often just think about the “now and what’s easy while wiring”.

And.. most often the same electrician who pulled the wire is not the same electrician who has to troubleshoot what’s going on..

So the trick is to make things SIMPLE and EASY for the next person who MAY have to come troubleshoot what’s going on..

To do that, simply pull power to easy to access areas, like a light switch box that is low down in height, and someone doesn’t have to get a ladder, take down a light, or cause tons of extra work to simply discover where power first starts in the circuit.

I hope this one teaches you a lot 🙂