You shall not... forget the light on.
February 16, 2011 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I want to convert a wall switch into a door switch (for a wardrobe light). Is this easily feasible?

Ok, I know YANME.I bought this door switch to use in a large wardrobe. This is the current location of the wall switch, so I assume I can place the door switch not too far and wire it with the wall switch. But how should I wire it exactly?

I can dig the hole easy and install the door switch, I am able to properly switch thermostats. lighting fixtures and power outlets. Can I do this as well? And I am the home owner so it is either me or the electrician...
posted by ddaavviidd to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
I don't see a problem installing the switch. I do, however, see an operational problem. It appears that that is a sliding door and that you would be relying upon it to slide closed to turn off the light. This means that any slight vibration or failure to ensure the door is closed would result in the light being on all the time. You may want to consider that before installing the switch.

If you want to go ahead, turn off the power, pull the switch completely out of the wall, and drill a 3/8" hole through the door frame and backing stud into the box. Be careful not to nick the wires in the box. If the switch has a two-wire pigtail, just hook up the switch wires to the wires you remove from the existing switch using wire nuts. Don't disturb any of the other wires in the box.

You will need to chisel out a relief in the door frame and possible the backing stud to allow the switch to sit flush into the frame. Cover the electrical box with a blank cover and you are done.
posted by Old Geezer at 12:33 PM on February 16, 2011

Response by poster: It is in fact a hinged door, but I zoomed so we don't see the hinges that are over and under the picture frame. The process seems fairly straightforward. Can I still keep the wall switch (always turned on) in case I want to momentarily bypass the door switch? If that's too complicated I'll just remove it.
posted by ddaavviidd at 12:44 PM on February 16, 2011

Best answer: Door switches work great when properly installed. You definitely need a heavy door, or like you say, the light will always be on.

In my experience, it is best to take off some of the framing of the closet. Fish the wire to correct location, then drill out and replace the framing.
posted by Flood at 12:51 PM on February 16, 2011

Best answer: Yes, you can keep your existing switch. You will not be able to use it to turn the light on if the door is closed (but the likelyhood of needing to do that is slim), but it will work to keep the light off when the door is open if you like.

Things get tricky on the actual installation of this thing. How wide is your existing door? The switch itself is 1 1/4". If you door is thinner than that you will need to remove the doorstop trim in order to cut a hole for your switch. In either case, you will likely have to remove the trim on the backside of the pictured wall in order to cut out enough room for the door switch.

I imagine that you have a double stud with the light switch box attached to the side opposite the door.

If I were doing this, these are the steps I would follow:

1. Remove door casing trim on interior of closet.
2. Remove a square of drywall to expose the area that switch will mount in along with light switch box
3. Use a circular saw or handsaw to make two cuts 1 1/4" deep and spaced apart the correct distance to fit your door switch. Use a chisel to remove the material in between (it will help keep your depth if you make multiple saw cuts to remove material first)
4. Chisel out door frame so switch sits flush.
5. Run wire using proper box connectors from door switch to existing light switch. Attach white and black wires to the terminals of the switch (doesn't really matter which is which)
6. Remove black wire from light switch. Using a wire nut, attach this to the black wire of the wire that you just ran from your door switch.
7. Attach white wire from door switch to the screw for the wire that you removed from the light switch.
8. Reassemble, patch drywall, replace trim etc.

Feel free to ask if you require clarification. I'm not a licensed electrician etc. etc.
posted by davey_darling at 1:37 PM on February 16, 2011

Response by poster: I did the work today. I was easy! Now I just need to do some drywall work. And I'm already finding others places that'll be useful.
posted by ddaavviidd at 8:18 PM on February 18, 2011

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