Wiring Connections When Replacing a Light Fixture
How do I connect the light fixture wires to my ceiling electrical box wiring? Electrical Wiring Connections for Light Fixture, Best Practices When Replacing Light Fixtures.
Light Fixture Wiring
Electrical Wiring Question: How do I connect the light fixture wires to my ceiling electrical box wiring?
- My ceiling electrical box has 2 black wires and 2 white wires, 1 red wire, and two bare copper wires that are banded together partway up the wire with what looks like a strip of metal. I had a friend who said they knew what they were doing help me out with installing a new hanging light fixture. After taking the old one off they couldn’t figure out how to attach the new one so now I have no light and some of my wall plugs aren’t working either.
- I have been trying to read the self help stuff on this website to figure out what to do with all the wires so my plugs will work again but it seems like everyone else has different numbers of wires than I have.
- I understand that the white wire is neutral, the black wire is for a ceiling fan motor (if you have one) the red wire is for the power to the light and the bare copper wire is the ground. The problem is that my ceiling electrical box has 2 black wires and 2 white wires, 1 red wire, and two bare copper wires that are banded together partway up the wire with what looks like a strip of metal. I don’t have money to hire an electrician so for now I just want to fix the wires so that they can’t start a fire and so that my wall plugs will work again. Can you please tell me what to do?
- I have several yellow caps that my friend left, I am just afraid to connect the wires without knowing which wire to connect to which wire and I don’t trust my friend to mess with it any further.
Can you please help me?
This home electrical repairs question came from: Andrea, from Beaverton, Oregon.
Additional Comments: This is a great website I have already learned a lot from just a half an hour of browsing.
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Andrea.
How to Connect the Wires for a Light Fixture
Understanding Light Fixture Wiring
Application: Ceiling Mounted or Wall Mounted Light Fixture.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the light fixture(s).
Precaution: Identify the lighting circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the circuit wiring.
Notice: Installing additional fixture wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Best Practices When Replacing Light Fixtures
Before replacing a light fixture the electrical wiring connections should be labeled so it is known which wire was connected where. This can be done any number of ways including making a quick drawing and using masking tape to label each wire or set of wires, or taking a picture would be helpful as well.
Electrical Wiring Connections for Light Fixtures
- If the original wiring connections were not identified then the task of identifying the wiring and each component of the circuit is required and a voltage tester may be required.
- With the circuit wiring as described in this question the components of the circuit which need to be identified are the following:
- The light switch.
- The ceiling fixture.
- The wall outlets.
- Typically when this wiring scenario is found the following may apply:
- The White neutral wires are connected together and the white fixture wire is connected as well.
- The black wire is connected to the other black wire.
- The red wire is connected to the black wire of the light fixture.
- The ground wires which would be either bare or green are all connected together and the ground wire of the light fixture is connected as well.
- NOTE: This wiring scenario should first be verified by observing or discovering the wiring that is used for switching and the wiring that is used to power the outlet.
Electrical Circuit Protection
When electrical circuit wiring is installed correctly there will be no danger of an electrical hazard or an electrical fire because when the circuit design is correct it will be protected by the circuit breaker, however incorrect wiring connections will affect the performance of the circuit and will affect anything that is connected to the circuit wiring.
More about Wiring Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans
How to Install Ceiling Fans
Take the mystery out of ceiling fan wiring. Ceiling Fans are a great way to lower your energy bill and brighten up one of your favorite rooms.
How to Install Ceiling Fans and Wiring
Step-by-step pictures – Easy wiring diagrams and installation guide – Light and fan switch variations.
Electrical Wire for the Home
Complete listing of electrical wire types and parts used for home projects with electrical code information serves as selection guidelines.
Using Testers to Identify Electrical Problems
Testers to Help Solve Electrical Problems
Troubleshooting Electrical Wiring
Types of Electrical Testers
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Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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I’m trying to install a new light fixture in the front hall. Currently the light is activated by two switches (on each end of hall). The NEW fixture has 1 black wire and 1 white wire. The ceiling wires have 2 black and 2 white coming down. The OLD single light has the 2 wires connected separately by a little metal tab.
I tried connecting the 3 black and 3 white together and attached the metal ground to the green screw. It kept on switching the breaker when I went to turn it back on.
How do I connect this light so I can still use all switches? Again, 2 black and 2 white in ceiling, 2 switches, new light has 1 black, 1 white, and 1 ground.
It sound like you have created a direct short between the hot and neutral of the circuit, so one pair of wires of one cable is most likely being used for switching. This is best identified using a voltage tester.