Installing Spotlights And Wall Lights

Wall-mounted lights and spotlights offer wide scope for lighting arrangements since they can be installed in any room as the main lighting or to supplement existing lighting, which is usually supplied by a conventional ceiling rose. If you have individual lighting, such as a rise and fall pendant over the dining table, wall lights can be used to provide general illumination.

Spotlights are particularly versatile since they can be fitted on the wall or the ceiling and can be used to highlight particular features of the room such as pictures, displays or even curtains. Spotlights are particularly useful for providing local lighting for reading, sewing and other similar activities since they are available with swivel brackets which allow the light to be directed as required. Wall lights or spotlights are also very useful in a double bedroom since light can be localized, causing the minimum disturbance to the other occupant.

Types of lamp

Spotlights use two principal kinds of lamps: a reflector lamp of 75 watts is available in clear (white), blue, green, red and yellow; the PAR 38 sealed beam spotlight and floodlight (100 and 150 watts) is available in the same range of colours. The latter is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the floodlight version giving a wider beam of light suitable for illuminating outdoor areas.

When buying fittings for spotlights, check which size and type of lamp it will accept; on some models the wattage is stamped inside the holder. Fittings These are usually made of either polished or matt aluminium or finished in enamel in a variety of colours including white and pastel shades of green, yellow and mauve. Lighting track is particularly useful for holding spotlights. Available in various lengths, this can be fixed to the ceiling or wall and will take a number of spotlights which can be locked in position on the track.

Wiring wall lights

New wall lights may well need wiring extensions from the existing circuit, unless you are fortunate enough to move into a new home where wall lights have already been installed by previous owners or decide to fit wall lights with a flexible cord from a plug and socket outlet. In the case of new circuit wiring, the power may be run from three sources – from an existing lighting circuit, from a ring circuit via a fused connection unit or from a new lighting circuit in the consumer unit.

The lights are usually added to the circuit supplying the same floor, although there is much to be said for using a different circuit – from another floor, if it is a two-storey house, or from a circuit supplying other rooms, if a bungalow.

A different circuit will mean the lights in the room will be supplied from more than one circuit, preventing a blackout should a fuse blow. This will also ease pressure on the ground floor or main living area lighting circuit, which tends to become overloaded if extra lights are added. There are regulations covering the maximum number of lights on one circuit – 12 lamps nOt more than 100 watts each on one circuit and fewer when one or more 150 watt lamps are fitted. Where added wall lights – especially those having two lamps, even if they are only 40 or 60 watts – will exceed the regulation number, use another circuit or install a new circuit, which can be a fused spur from a ring main.

Wiring from existing circuits

Although wall lights are more conveniently controlled independently from the other lighting, wiring can be simplified by connecting to the existing fittings and using the existing light switch by the door. In this case the wall lights should have their own switches so they may be turned off if you want just a main light.

The problem with this arrangement is that to have the wall lights on you must also have the main light on. This can be overcome either by fixing a cord-operated ceiling switch or by replacing the lampholder in the ceiling with a switched version, if it has an open shade. A more satisfactory solution is to connect to the neutral terminal on the existing light and replace the existing one gang switch with a two gang switch; the second switch will be for the wall lights. Mount the new switch on the same box and use the existing unswitched live to supply both switches.

Where, however, the existing circuit is wired on the loop-in ceiling rose system, as most modern circuits are, there will be a live terminal as well as a neutral one at the rose; this is the ideal source of electricity for the wall light circuit. If not wired on the loop-in system and if the ceiling light switch is located in the wrong part of the room, it will be necessary either to locate a junction box on the lighting circuit to allow access to a live terminal or to run a cable from the lighting circuit fuseway in the consumer unit.

Whichever method you use to obtain the source of electricity, you will need a four terminal 15/20amp plastic junction box — the basic accessory for the wiring — and flat 1.0sq mm twin core and earth, PVC sheathed cable.

The junction box is fixed under the floor to a piece of timber between the joists, roughly equidistant from the wall lights and the wall switch position. A convenient position for the box is above the existing ceiling light, if the light is used for looping. Run a length of cable from the junction box to each wall light, preferably a separate cable to each. This will save you having to run two cables down the wall to all but the last wall light, and having to house two cables and the connectors in the confined space behind the backplate.

Run a cable from the junction box to the switch position; if this is the same as the existing switch, a two gang unit replaces the one gang switch. Run a final cable from the junction box to the source of supply — the ceiling lighting point, a junction box or the consumer unit. When making the connections at the junction box, ensure the ends of the sheathing terminate within the box and all earth conductors are enclosed in green/yellow PVC sheathing.

Wiring from ring circuit

In this case it is necessary to insert a fused connection unit into the 30amp ring main and fit a 3amp fuse in the unit to protect the lighting wiring, which has a lower current rating. The simplest method is to loop out of a convenient 13amp socket outlet connected to the ring cable and not fed from a spur cable.

The socket outlet you choose should be on the first floor, if in a two-storey house, so cable may be run under the floorboards; this will save having cable running up walls and will also normally mean the lights are on a different circuit than, for example, table lamps, which will be on the ring circuit in the ground floor rooms.

Turn the power off and remove a socket outlet to check it is not a spur. A single socket box can be replaced by a dual box which is slightly longer than a two gang box and has two extra screw-fixing lugs for mounting two single accessories side by side (in this instance one will be the fused connection unit). If connecting the fused connection unit to a double socket, you will need a separate single box for the unit alongside the socket box. The fused connection unit must be connected to the socket outlet terminals by 2.5sq mm twin core and earth PVC-sheathed cable.

From the fused connection unit run a length of 1.0sq mm twin core and earth PVC-sheathed cable to the junction box feeding the wall lights and switch. Connect the 2.5sq mm cable to the mains terminals of the fused connection unit and the 1.0sq mm cable to the load terminals.

Mounting wall lights

Most wall light fittings are situated at the traditional height of 1.8m (6ft) above floor level; they can be fitted at any preferred height, depending upon the height of the ceiling and the style of the fitting.

Usually they have a backplate or base which has an open back. Regulations require the ends of cables, cable connectors and fitting flex to be totally enclosed in non-combustible material; a plastic or metal box is usually sunk into the wall and covered by the backplate of the fitting. Often the wall lights will have a circular backplate with two fixing holes drilled at 50mm (2in) fixing centres which match the standard ‘BS’ circular conduit box (termed BESA).

A plastic box can be used for all but very heavy fittings. If a metal box is used, fit a male brass bush into the threaded conduit entry in the edge to prevent the cable chafing as it enters the box. The metal version is also used for lights having a rectangular backplate with drilled fixings, made of wood, metal or plastic. Many wall lights, however, have no BESA plate and some are very narrow and of shapes unsuited to the BESA box. These require a narrow metal knock-out box (half the width of a socket outlet box) called an architrave box and designed for use with an architrave plateswitch. Remove the knock-out disc from the box and fit a PVC grommet to protect the cable.

The box is sunk into a chase cut into the wall. Fixed with screws in plugged holes. Thread in the circuit cable, dropping it down from the ceiling; the cable may be clipped to the wall or buried in the plaster as desired. Trim and prepare the end of the cable in each box by stripping off the sheathing down to about 19min (Sin) and remove about 9mm (Sin) of insulation from the two insulated conductors; slip green/yellow PVC sleeving over the bare end of the earth conductor. Using a two way insulated cable connector (already connected to the fitting wires in some wall light fittings), connect the red circuit wire to the brown wire of the fitting, the black to the blue and the earth wire of each to the earth terminal in the box. If there is no earth terminal, as in a plastic box, terminate the earth with a one way cable connector.

With a BESA box, secure the fitting to the box lugs with M.4 metric (2BA) screws (usually supplied). With an architrave box,the fitting can be fixed directly to the wall using screws in plugged holes. Should one of the fixing holes coincide with the box, it will be necessary to fix a drilled metal cover to the box using M3.5 metric (4BA) screws; drill another hole in the cover for a self-tapping screw to hold the fitting. Run cable down to the switch and fit. Check the power is still turned off and connect the cable to the existing ceiling fitting, junction box or fuseway as relevant.

Mounting spotlights

Spotlights can be mounted at any height on a wall or in any position on a ceiling. Wiring is the same as for wall lights, except when the spotlights are to be ceiling-mounted; here a cable is passed through a hole pierced in the ceiling as for a conventional ceiling rose.

Most spotlight fittings have a circular base drilled for 50mm (2in) fixings and are therefore suitable for mounting on a BESA box. Many are sold ready wired with a short length of three core circular sheathed flex passing out through a small hole in the baseplate edge. This means instead of being mounted over a BESA box, the base can be fixed directly to the wall and the flex connected to a plug and socket outlet, ceiling rose or switched fused connection unit.

Lighting tracks enable one or more spotlights to be mounted in line on a ceiling or wall. Lighting pendants and the occasional small appliance may also be plugged into a lighting track. Domestic tracks come in standard lengths and couplers enable you to extend the track to any length. The tracks have a current rating of 16amps, although in practice the load is limited to the current rating of the circuit feeding the track. From a 5amp circuit the limit is 1200 watts; from a 3amp fused spur it is 720 watts; from a 13amp fused spur up to 3120 watts may be run off. The last is necessary when appliances such as toasters or irons are used from the track.

A lighting track is basically a PVC extrusion containing two bare conductors (live and neutral) with an earth strip, enclosed in an anodized aluminium track. Spotlights fitted with track adaptors clip into the track and will slide along until locked into position. Flexible cord adaptors may be fitted to the track to operate a lighting pendant or an appliance fitted with the adaptor in place of a conventional plug. A cord-operated 2amp switch to control up to 480 watts is available, which may be clipped into the track if required. A track can be connected directly to fixed wiring either at a wall lighting point or at a ceiling point in place of a ceiling rose and operated by conventional wall switches. Alternatively flexible cord can be connected to the track terminals, which in turn are connected to a ceiling rose, cord outlet or to a plug and socket outlet.

Warning Every spotlight and wall light must be under the control of an isolating switch, such as a conventional wall switch, even when the fittings have their own integral switches. This is to ensure the lampholder and other live parts are dead whenever you attend to the fitting. A cord-operated, or push-button, integral switch does not indicate whether the fitting is on or off. Spotlights are made in the 100-150 watt range, so check the lighting circuit will not be overloaded; if the circuit would be overloaded, a ring circuit spur should be used to supply the power.

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