How to Wire a Switch Leg for a Light Fixture

How to Wire a Switch Leg for a Light Fixture


Wiring a switch leg for a light fixture allows you to control the light from a wall switch. This gives you the convenience of turning the light on and off without having to walk over to the fixture and pull a chain. Wiring a switch leg is a basic electrical project that I can easily accomplish with some planning, the right materials, and following basic electrical safety guidelines. In this article, I will explain in depth how to wire a switch leg for a light fixture, including a step-by-step guide and tips for success.

Materials Needed

Before starting this project, I gathered the following materials:

Turn Off Power

The first step is crucial - turn off the power at the main breaker panel. I tested outlets with a voltage tester to confirm power was off. Working with live wires is extremely dangerous and could result in electrocution.

Install Electrical Box

I installed the electrical box for the switch in the wall. The box needs to be accessible so you can install the switch later. I positioned the electrical box where I wanted the wall switch to be located.

Run Cable to Light Fixture Box

I located the box where the light fixture would be installed. I then ran the 14/2 cable from the switch box to the light fixture box. This cable needs to be long enough to run between the two boxes. Leaving extra cable allows you to reposition the boxes if needed.

Connect Wires

With the power still off, I connected the wires:

Install the Switch

With the wires connected, I installed the switch in the switch box. I screwed the switch to the box and connected the black wire to one screw terminal on the switch. I connected the unused black wire to the other screw terminal.

Test the Switch Leg

I turned the power back on and tested the switch. Flipping the switch should turn the connected light fixture on and off. If the light does not work, I double checked all connections and made sure wires were connected properly.

Tips for Success

Here are some helpful tips to ensure success when wiring a switch leg:


By following basic steps, I was able to successfully install a switch leg to control a light fixture from a wall switch. Key points are turning the power off, running 14/2 cable between the boxes, properly connecting the wires, installing the switch, and testing operation. Taking precautions for electrical safety is also crucial when working with switch legs and lighting circuits. With the right materials and safety awareness, wiring a basic switch leg can be a straightforward do-it-yourself home wiring project.