Does a light switch have to be in the same room as lights?
Saturday, December 5, 2020
The National Electrical Code [NEC 210.70(A)(1)] states that “At least one switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom.” Rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms are allowed to have a switched wall receptacle outlet instead of a light [NEC 210.70(A)(1)(Exception 1)]. Also, an occupancy sensor is an acceptable alternative to a switch if located in the usual location as a light switch and has a manual override that functions as a wall switch, or if the occupancy sensor is installed in addition to a light switch [NEC 210.70(A)(1)(Exception 2)].
The purpose of this code requirement is to avoid having to walk across a dark room, and possibly stumble and fall, to turn on a light. But the code does not actually specify where the switch should be located, only that there should be a switch-controlled light for each habitable room. Ordinarily the switch is on the wall inside the room and near the latch side of the door, or sometimes on the wall outside the room near the door, although neither location is code-mandated.
As a practical matter, any light switch for a room that is not readily accessible near the entry door to the room is a safety issue that a home inspector would call out.
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