I am looking to replace a ceiling light fixture in my house. The fixture I
bought has no wiring instructions. There are three wires from the fixture,
white, black and white with green stripe which I am assuming is the ground.
The existing wires from the ceiling are black, white and red. Is this a
simple matter of connecting color to color? What is the red wire for and
is it to connected to anything?
Thanks in advance
What did those three wires "from the ceiling" connect to on the fixture
you are replacing?
Was it by any chance a ceiling fan, in which case the red wire might
have been the "hot" motor lead, and the black one the "hot" lamp bulb(s)
lead, with the white being the neutral return lead for BOTH the motor
and the light bulb(s).
You may need someone with electrical knowledge and a meter or test lamp
to help you determine what's what.
There is no 1-1 relationship there.
I would also guess the white with green was for a ground, but I would
check that out with a meter before going ahead.
The black and red are standard HOT colors. It may be that it was wired
for a fan with lights, separate controls, or a heater (as in a bath room)
etc. Since that was done on site, I would want to check them out as well.
You never know when someone before you did something really stupid. You
can't assume the wires as as they should be.
The prior fixture was a simple pendant light that was already pulled
down when I looked at it. The ceiling is too low (7'0") to have had a
fan and is in a main area. Whoever put the fixture in previously was
dumb enough to put a penadant light in an area with such a low ceiling.
The light hung to about 5'5" above the floor.
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I'd approach it this way, after making sure that any breakers or fuses
which may feed power to that area are switched off or taken out.
Assuming there's only one wall switch controlling that overhead lamp
Look inside the box containing the wall switch controlling that fixture
location and see if there's a red wire entering it, but not connected to
anything. If you find one there, chances are good that it was put there
to enable the ceiling fan hookup I mentioned earlier. But, the only way
to make certain that it is the other end of the red wire coming out of
the ceiling box is to "ring it out" with a meter or continuity tester.
If you don't find the other end of that red wire in the switch box, you
could just cap off the red wire at the fixture end.
Then, assuming the ceiling box is metal, take a close look inside it to
see if you can find a ground wire entering it terminated at a screw into
the box itself. If you find that ground wire you are nearly there.
Connect black to black and white to white from the fixture to the
wiring, connect the white/green wire to a screw in the ceiling box, put
the power back on and see how it woiks.
If you didn't see that ground wire in the box, the box may still be
grounded through the metal jacket of "BX" cable connected to it, but it
will take some checking with a meter or continuity tester to establish
that. The fixture could still light fine without a ground, but the lack
of a ground may not be up to code at your location.
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.
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