Remembering my circuits classes the hard way

Okay, first off: Roger and Ed. I didn’t take Engineering, so this wasn’t pounded in my head. So go easy on me, okay?

I spend the weekend working as much as I could in the basement, trying to make some more headway given the three-odd week break I’ve had getting to know my child a bit more.

Up for work: mostly electrical (I’d hoped to have a “framing complete” post today, but the aforementioned child needed some attention from daddy, so I didn’t quite get there). And that means lights.

For the last few months, I’ve been working off of two banks of fluorescent lights, neither of which I’d moved since tearing the basement apart. With more and more of the walls in place, it’s become more important to have actual lighting on actual switches so we can actually find our way through the basement.

I repurposed some of the lights I’d pulled out during deconstruction — specifically, three (of the six) halogen pot lights. They’re designed to actually sit on top of a ceiling, which I don’t currently have, so I strapped them to the beams instead. (It’s temporary until we can figure out what we’re doing.)

I then had the brilliant idea: run the power from the panel out to the first light, connect the three lights in series, and use a dimmer switch at the far end to control them.

Those of you who have an inkling of circuits will have caught my blunder.


There’s two ways to hook up multiple things on a circuit: series and parallel. In a series circuit, each item receives its power from the previous item. I can’t remember all the details of where you’d use one over the other, but I do know (now, having been reminded) that series connections mean less juice for succeeding items … and possibly they might not work at all.


After realising what I’d done wrong (I bypassed two of the three lights, accidentally electrocuting myself when I forgot to turn the circuit off at the panel), I also remembered my circuits, and broke the whole thing out into parallel circuits.

Voila! Let there be light!

Somewhere along the line, though, I’ve switched something around. My off is on, and my on is off. I’ve flipped the switch around for now, but I do need to fix it eventually.

Maybe when Craig stops laughing at the work I’ve done, he can give me a couple of pointers…

Tagged with: