General Question

Pandora's avatar

Can anyone tell me how I can separate two lights on the same dual light switch?

Asked by Pandora (30991points) 1 month ago

I have two lights in my kitchen. One is over the nook area and the other is the main overhead light with long LED lights. The LED lights are great for when I am cooking but are too bright at night when I’m just on my computer in the nook area. I want to be able to just turn on the light in the nook area that has a smaller light.
There is a switch on the wall in the nook area and one the dining room that turns on the kitchen lights. The lights feed on the same line.
Is there a way I can separate them?

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22 Answers

LadyMarissa's avatar

Personally, the ONE thing that I don’t mess with is electricity!!! Since you don’t understand what you have there, I strongly suggest that you call an electrician to do the job for you. IF you do it, you could conceivably create a situation where your house catches fire!!! An electrician should be MUCH safer & well worth what they would charge.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The devil is in the details here – spefically the wiring.

The ‘traditional way’ to do this would be to have an electrician run a new circuit to the nook, and tie it to a new switch so you have control of that individually.

In 2022 you can buy internet-app controlled bulbs. So you could replace the current bulbs in each location with ones that you control through your phone.

The second approach greatly depends on the fixtures in your house and whether or not they are even amenable to new bulbs. To say nothing of the fact that every time you turn off and on the lights some internet server will know what you are doing.

I agree with @LadyMarissa – get an electrician out

WhyNow's avatar

If you have a regular vertical type light switch then, depending on the wiring you can
change to a stacked horizontal type switch. The wiring, usually fixture wires are
brought to the switch, since light switches can handle the loads.

Is the light switch warm to the touch? That might be a problem.

You mention LED lights in the kitchen implying they might be recent. The installer
might have used pre-existing wires that were connected in a series to one switch.

I totally get it, the LEDs are too bright for your ‘nook.’ You want more intimate lighting,
so you can sit and sip on an adult beverage and read my posts! That’s why it’s called
a ‘nook’ area! What was the question?

So if both fixtures were wired to the light switch no problem! But if not… you
might have to move.

Pandora's avatar

@LadyMarissa and @elbanditoroso and @WhyNow I do plan on getting and electrician but before doing so, I want an idea of whether they know what they are doing or not. I once hired a so called certified electrician who worked on my water heater power and end up blowing out our water heater. He said the wiring in the house was all wrong and he would have to change a lot of things out. When my husband explained to a friend of his who is an electrician but wasn’t certified for the state we were in, he told my husband the guy didn’t know what the hell he was doing or was simply trying to make the job bigger so he would get paid more.

So we bought a new heater and his friend helped us rewire the power properly. So I am warily and whenever I plan to hire professionals I try to troubleshoot it first and research what is proper and what is a shortcut that will cost us more in the long run.

Pandora's avatar

@WhyNow I saw a video about separating them at the switch box but I have two switch boxes for the same two lights. I’m wondering if that is going to be a problem. I would be okay with making both switch work individually for each light but I’m trying to avoid having to make holes in the ceiling if possible or making one switch totally useless.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The two switches, I think, control both lights and the wiring for the two switches has special wiring.

Turn the lights on with one switch and turn them off with the other, is that right ?

kritiper's avatar

You will need an electrician. But it isn’t that difficult and shouldn’t be that costly.

Pandora's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Yes, if I hit either on then both lights turn on or off. But it isn’t one for on and one for off if that is what you are wondering.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You shouldn’t end up with any new holes. just add another switch to control ONLY the nook light. But then the only way to turn on the nook light is that new switch.

JLeslie's avatar

The easiest fix might be swapping it to a dimmer switch, which some people feel comfortable doing on their own, my husband does it, I wouldn’t. Electricity always makes me nervous. If you are comfortable doing it, that would be inexpensive, just buy the dimmer and install.

Call an electrician with what you ideally want to do and let them give you a price. It might be much less than you think, and worth it. If you have any other electrical things you want done, get it all done at once.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@JLeslie not all LED lights will work properly with a dimmer switch. The LED must be dimmer compatible.

WhyNow's avatar

If each fixture is wired to the switch you could get away with a handyman.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would replace the single switch with a double switch like shown in this video.
Watch the first 15 seconds of the video. Is that what you want?

Pandora's avatar

@LuckyGuy Good video. I found another one but this guy showed and explained it better. Thanks for the video. But you see the light switch. I have two on separate walls that control both lights. On switch is outside the kitchen wall in the dinning area so you turn on the light as you enter. The other is in the kitchen/nook area but more in the nook area. I feel like the set up may be different.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Pandora So your kitchen is wired so you can control the lights from two or 3 locations. That likely means yours switches are not simple SPST, single pole single throw, switches. They are most likely SPDT, single pole double throw, or sometimes called 2 way switch in the EU.
Your existing house wiring can be done a couple of ways. Rather than guessing you’ll be better off letting the electrician do it.

JLeslie's avatar

So, you have a three-way switch if I understand correctly (two switches in two different locations that control one set of lights). Are you saying you want one set of lights on one switch and the other set on the other switch, and not needing to add any switches to the wall? I love being able to turn on lights from two places.

I have a three-way switch in my kitchen for one set of lights, and one of the light switches is a dimmer and one isn’t.

As long as the lightbulbs can be dimmed you would be ok if you want to consider it. You can always change the light bulbs to dimmers, but that would be an additional cost, which can add up depending how many lights you have. One other negative is having all the lights on when you don’t need them all wastes some energy.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Have you thought about changing out the LED light bulbs to something in the warmer category or a lower wattage??? It might not make them so blindingly bright while still keeping the needed light in the area.

Another thought, before I hire anybody to do work at my house, I talk to all my friends & family asking them who they use when they have similar work done. There are rip-off artists in EVERY profession, but your friends should be able to give you a reference to a good electrician that doesn’t regularly try to rip you off!!!

Pandora's avatar

@LadyMarissa I had to change them to led lights because there isn’t enough natural light and my vision is getting worse with age. I mean I like to know if something is not its usual color because it may be spoiling, not because of poor lighting. Also, the bright light shows me anything that isn’t washed quite right when I’m doing dishes without glasses on.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would agree with @LuckyGuy – very likely power is going to one switch, thru both light fixtures, to the other switch. If you separate the lines between the fixtures, one of the fixtures won’t have power at all. Better to get an electrician to properly re-route power to both fixtures.

LadyMarissa's avatar

She has already said that she’s planning on having a qualified electrician do the job. She just wants to know what to expect because she has been ripped off by a qualified electrician in the past. It’s like we’re wearing a “kick me” sign IF we don’t know what to be looking out for!!!

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