How to add a pendant light and a new switch
A complete guide to adding a pendant light on a new switch
Whichever type of wiring you have, you may be able to run the switch cable back to the existing switch position. This replaces the original one-gang switch with a two-gang unit and gives you a neater installation. If you've already got a switch in place, take a look at How to install a new pendant light fitting.
Before you start... switch it off
Before starting any electrical work, remember to switch off the mains power at the consumer unit. We recommend purchasing a voltage tester, as they confirm whether circuits are dead and safe to work on. Check all finished work with a voltage tester before using.
For your safety, these products must be installed in accordance with local Building Regulations. If in any doubt, or where required by the law, hire a professional. Further information is available online or from your local authority. Never take risks with electrical safety. Before you start any type of electrical work, follow these safety precautions:
- Switch off the main power at the consumer unit / fuse box. Isolate the circuit you plan to work on by removing the circuit fuse. Put this in your pocket to avoid losing it.
- Or switch off the breaker and lock it if you can - put a note on the unit to advise you're working on the circuit.
- Check the circuit is dead with a socket tester or voltage tester / meter for lighting circuits.
- Pendants can only support a very lightweight bulb and shade – fittings over 2 kg must be chain supported.
- Fittings with metal parts must be earthed with a three-core flex unless labelled as double insulated.
Identify your circuit type
Once you have switched the power supply off, your first task is to find out what circuit type you have: junction box or loop-in. With the power turned off, remove your ceiling rose cover. You won’t be able to tell from the design of the rose – instead, you’ll need to count the cables entering it. If there’s only one cable then you have a junction-box wiring; if there are two or three, then you have a loop-in system.
A single cable entering the rose
This indicates junction-box wiring.
Two cables entering the rose
This indicates a loop-in circuit. The last rose on the circuit will have one circuit cable plus a switch cable.
Three cables entering the rose
This indicates loop-in wiring; an intermediate rose on the circuit will have two circuit cables plus a switch cable.
With junction-box wiring
1. Double check the circuit is dead.
2. Cut the main circuit cable and install a four-terminal junction box.
3. Connect the live cores of the split circuit cable to one terminal, the neutral cores to another and the earth cores to a third – adding green/yellow sleeving.
4. Next, run a length of 1 mm² two-core-and-earth cable to the new light, and another to the switch.
5. Connect the brown switch core to the circuit lives, its earth to the circuit earths and its blue core to the fourth terminal.
6. Then add a length of brown PVC electrical sleeving to this core to show it can be live.
7. Connect the brown core of the light cable to the switch drop’s blue core, its blue core to the circuit neutrals and its earth to the earth terminal.
With loop-in wiring
1. Double check the power is off and run a spur cable from an existing rose on the circuit. This connects its brown core to the main circuit lives, its blue core to the main circuit neutrals and its earth to the earth terminal.
2. At the new light position, connect its brown core to the central bank of terminals (which might be marked ‘loop’) and its blue core to the neutral terminal. Also, connect the earth to the earth terminal, adding green/yellow sleeving.
3. Run in the switch drop cable at the new rose, connecting its brown core to the spur’s brown, its blue core (flagged brown) to the live terminal and its earth to the earth terminal.
Running a spur from a loop-in rose to a new rose and switch
With either type of wiring, you’ve got an additional option. You could connect a three-terminal junction box into the main circuit cable and run a spur from there to a loop-in rose with its own switch cable.
With a loop-in rose, you can add a spur cable to provide power to a second light position controlled by its own switch.