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  1. #1
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    Apr 2009
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    Default conductor count in old box

    My house has lots of closet lights, which tend to be 1.5 x 4" oct boxes mounted above and just inside the door. Each has a pull chain operated lamp with a bare bulb. The wiring is 12/2 without ground that daisy chains between the closets and other lighting fixtures. I wanted to replace the wire with 12/2 w ground, and replace the fixture with a wall mounted slim florescent for heat/safety reasons.

    Problem: If I replace the wire as is, I think I will be over the wire count limit for the box. I need 2 wires to enter the fixture, 2 in , 2 out, 1 ground and 1 for the box clamps, which makes 8 and I think the limit for 1.5x4 is 6. Since the wall mounted light has a metal case, can I pull both the 12/2 wires into the light case and either ignore the old box in the wall or pull it out entirely and just use the light fixture case for the connections ? The only other choice I see is to remove the old box, chisel out the opening and mount a deeper box.

    Do I even have to have a wall box ? Can I let the 2 pieces of 12/2 emerge from the wall at the right point, clamp them as they enter the fixture and make all the connection inside the fixture ?
    Last edited by gandalfthewise; 05-28-2009 at 04:54 PM.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2009
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    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    Here is how I see it but some sticklers for the code could argue.

    I would use the existing boxes and clamps and leave all of the new, stripped wiring long enough to be spliced in the fixture and not the box with the exception of the grounds which I would splice in the box and pigtail to bring a lead in to ground the fixture.

    The way I see it the conductors that are coming in, spliced in the fixture and not the box and then leaving via another cable only count as one and are just passing through the box which should give you no more than six for the total.

    See NEC 2008 314.16 (B) (1)

    Really interesting (to me anyway) topic.

    Would it be okay with you if I copied and pasted your thread question to an electrical forum? (I won’t mention this site or use names ……….)?

  3. #3
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    Sure it would be fine if you quoted this and posted it anywhere. Let me know what you find out, or the name of the forum and I will follow it there. I found a guidebook to an old version of the code that implied that I could count the wires going to the lamp as fixture wires and not include them in the count at all. But this kind of implies that the box and the lamp are open to each other, which I suppose I could do. To make it seem that the lamp and the box are more open to each other, I could leave the opening in the back of the lamp open too the box, and just find something to protect the wire from the metal edge of the hole. I had been planning on using a metal box clamp between the box and the lamp, just to protect the wire.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    21

    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    For many years we have run romex into the back of a fixture if the fixture has a solid back side. A bathroom light bar or an undercabinet light. The fixture must be rated for internel wiring. That is the make-up must not be exposed to bare walls. The fixture should be in two pieces(front and back). the romex must enter the fixture with an approved connector. The front and back of the fixture should be bonded with the grounding conductor. Avoid,if you possible can, any run throughs in lighting fixtures. Try and keep only switchlegs in fixtures.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZZ View Post
    I am curious as to how you will replace the romex in the wall without removing the boxes in this application.
    In this case the old boxes are above the closet doors, so they are very close to the attic. In general they tend to be not stapled to the supports and the new wire can be attached to the old and carefully pulled through. Note I did not say this is easy. In similar rewiring situations where the outlet was closer to floor level, I generally have to remove the old box and replace it with an old work box.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    Quote Originally Posted by sparky rw View Post
    For many years we have run romex into the back of a fixture if the fixture has a solid back side. A bathroom light bar or an undercabinet light. The fixture must be rated for internel wiring. That is the make-up must not be exposed to bare walls. The fixture should be in two pieces(front and back). the romex must enter the fixture with an approved connector. The front and back of the fixture should be bonded with the grounding conductor. Avoid,if you possible can, any run throughs in lighting fixtures. Try and keep only switchlegs in fixtures.
    In this case there is no switchleg, the lights are switched by a pull cord switch mounted in the bottom of the lighting fixture. Unless I can claim that the 1 1/2 x 4 box is adequate for the total number of connectors, it would seem I would have no choice but to make the run through connections in the fixtures. Where do I look on the fixture to make sure it is rated for internal wiring. (it has lots of internal wiring (ballast, switch etc) already, so that is probably not a problem).

  7. #7
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZZ View Post
    This is for a domed luminaire or similar canopy.
    Not sure the flat backside of a under-cabinet florescent would qualify as domed.

    In general, your solution is certainly the best way to proceed. Not sure I can convince the wife that I need the extra expense etc that that would require, but clearly that would be the best and most professional solution. I had considered a switch mounted to the door to sense when the closet door opened and had given up on that because of the difficulty of fitting the switch into the existing door frame. The PIR is a much better solution.

    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2009
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    Default Re: conductor count in old box

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZZ View Post
    No, it qualifies as "similar canopy"

    You're welcome.
    Good to see you ZZZ........ Good to have some pro help around here...... Must go munch on carrots........ (Insert wink icon here.)

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