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Confusion wiring replacement ceiling light...

Thanks in advance for your help with this.

I am replacing a ceiling light, but I'm confused which wire goes where. The attached photo has the original (left), replacement (top right), and fixture (bottom right).

How should I attach these three wires? Thank you.

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Posted 2016-09-29T19:30:08+0000  by daveceilinglight daveceilinglight
Hello daveceilinglight.  Welcome to the Community!

Sometimes ceiling fixtures can be more confusing then they should be.

Since you live in the U.S. I think I can help you here with NEC rules on wiring fixtures.

Let's start with what I see.  Thank you very much for the pictures.

Top left image of original fixture you are taking down.  It is correctly wired as follows:
Black, (hot power), coming into the box and attached to the 2 black fixture wires.
White, (neutral), coming into the box and attached to the 2 white fixture wires.
Bare, (ground which also could have been a green), attached to the fixture bare ground.

So we know that the ceiling box wire colors are as we expect them to be.  The question is what's up with that new fixture?

The new fixture, top right, has what looks like 3 conductor clear lamp cord.  I do not see any markings to differentiate the conductors.  One of them has a bare ground wire already attached.  If this is the way it came from the factory, then you know that these two wires are where you would attach the ceiling box bare ground.

Next are the power and neutral connections.

Clear lamp cord is often unmarked since the conductors themselves are a different color.  I can't tell which is which from the picture, but look for one to be a copper color while the other is a more silver color.  If you can see this difference then attach the copper color conductor to the black ceiling wire, and the silver color conductor to the white ceiling box wire.

If you cannot tell the difference, then you must use a multimeter to test for polarity.  Place one probe into one of the light sockets at the center tab where the very bottom of a light bulb would contact.  Look for continuity with one wire, and then the other.  Which ever wire shows a connection will be the black hot lead.  Do the same with the silver colored side of the socket and the other wire.  It should show continuity and will be the neutral wire.

There are some other wiring conventions for lamp cords as well as wiring in general. 
We are comparing one wire's outside casing with the other:  I will list a few that I know here: 

White stripe on one insulator and nothing on the other.  White stripe is neutral white.

White wire insulator on any wire will be neutral white.

Ribbing on one wire vs. smooth insulation.  Ribbed wire is neutral white.

Any marking or printing on one insulator but not the other.  Markings are for neutral white.

I really hope that you will see the wire conductor color difference.  If not, well a multimeter is a great tool to have and need not be an expensive investment.  They are useful for many household diagnostic tasks.  Let us know what you find.



Posted 2016-09-30T15:15:12+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
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