Two bulbs, one switch
September 7, 2009 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Can I wire two light switches into one switch?

I have two light switches in one plate. The left one lights the bathroom above the mirror, the right one lights above the toilet/shower. We'd like to make this one single switch since we find there is no need to have separate switches.

Is it as simple as putting both sets of wires into one switch? What should I be checking first? They are on the same fuse. Can you buy a plate that's double wide but only accommodates one switch?

My level of skill: I once cooked a hot dog using two nails attached to an old electrical plug, and managed to short the grade four classroom at the same time.
posted by furtive to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The ultra low-tech solution would be a broken piece of pencil (or a dowel rod if you want to get fancy) taped or glued to both switches so that flicking one will also move the other. Not the most exciting, but it involves no electrical work whatsoever.
posted by zachlipton at 3:35 PM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

this is how
posted by idiopath at 3:38 PM on September 7, 2009

As long as you're thinking about "switching" things up, what about motion detector switches? I love the one in my garage, it wasn't hard to install.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 3:43 PM on September 7, 2009

Here's the kind of switch plate cover you'll need. If you want, you could also replace one of the switches with a GFCI outlet.
posted by orme at 3:58 PM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

It should be fine to hook both lights up to a single switch (with the circuit breaker off) as long as the switch is rated to handle enough current, which it should be. Somewhere on the switch there should be a current rating on a label; make sure to check that.

In North America, add the wattage for all the lights and divide by 100 to get the current. (Actually, anything from 90 to 125 depending on where you are, but 100 is easy and will get you close.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:00 PM on September 7, 2009

This could get tricky if the lights are on a 'switch leg' where the incoming power from the panel hits the lights first before the switch. Not impossible, but it could be something to look for. An indicator of this is that the white and black wires in the cable are both connected to the switch.

If you have one cable coming in from the panel, and then two additional cables coming into the box from the lights (one from each). Then you should be ok. All the neutrals (eg. white wires) should be tied together (they already should be). The cable from the panel will likely be have two pigtails coming off of it providing power to each switch, or it will be directly tied to the switch and another wire will be jumped to the second switch. What you need to do is remove any jumpers providing power to the second switch and connect the light feed from there to the correct side of the switch. Don't double up on the screws, use the stab plugs on the back of the switch if you need a second connection.
posted by buttercup at 8:08 PM on September 7, 2009

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