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alacea 11-08-2010 10:52 AM

Chandelier wiring
Hi. I just bought an older (1930s-ish) house and I want to install a 6-light chandelier to an existing spot (replacing a two-bulb light fixture). One problem concerning the existing wiring in the ceiling is that I can't tell which wire is hot and which is neutral -- they appear to be covered with some sort of tan-colored rope. And the only wiring coming from the chandelier is a brown cord that looks like a lamp cord, cut clean -- the two wires (which appear gold-colored) within the brown cord aren't exposed. Then there is a gold/copper wire coming from the chandelier (the grounding wire?)

Is there a way I can do this myself, or do you think I am better off just calling a handyperson or electrician?

Thank you!

tcleve4911 11-08-2010 11:12 AM

As long as there aren't any on/off/high/low switches on your new fixture, it doesn't matter which is hot or neutral.
Strip back the brown wires and wire nut either one to the other.
The bare copper/gold wire is the ground.
Attach that to the metal box.

McSteve 11-08-2010 11:55 AM

This is not correct. Light sockets must have correct polarity so the hot is on the center contact and neutral on the outside screw shell. This is required due to the risk of shock from the exposed screw shell when changing bulbs.

Look closely at your exposed lamp cord. One wire should have some kind of marking, either printing on the insulation, or a ribbed texture to the insulation. This is the neutral.

Failing that, get an ohmmeter or continuity tester, or find someone who has one. Check for continuity between each wire and the center contact of the light sockets. The wire which shows continuity is the hot.

McSteve 11-08-2010 12:00 PM

I'm sorry, I just re-read and realized you also don't know which wire is which in the ceiling box. Do you have, and know how to use, a multimeter or a non-contact voltage detector?

alacea 11-08-2010 12:05 PM

Re: Chandelier wiring
No, I don't have or know how to use a multimeter or a non-contact voltage detector. I wrote down which was neutral, but I don't trust that I got even that correct.

Can I try wiring the chandelier to what I think is neutral and hot in the ceiling? (If I am wrong, will it cause a big problem? If so, I will just leave it to a pro.)

Thanks for all your help!

McSteve 11-08-2010 12:17 PM

It won't necessarily cause a problem if it's wired in reverse, but it will mean that the threaded shell of the light sockets will be hot, instead of the center contact. This does create a slight risk of shock when changing bulbs with the light on. How much of a risk it is depends on the design of the light fixture. On this site, we always recommend doing things the proper and legal way.

I would really recommend obtaining at least a non-contact voltage detector. They're $20 or so at most hardware or home improvement stores, and are a good thing to have for anyone doing occasional electrical work around the house.

tcleve4911 11-10-2010 09:02 AM

Hey...... my apologies for giving any misleading info here.

Guess I'll stick to my woodwork.....:laughing:

alacea 11-10-2010 12:32 PM

Re: Chandelier Wiring
I appreciate the help! I was able to wire it just fine. The thing I'm having more trouble with is getting the extra cord to fit up in the ceiling cavity and screwing in the "cap". I'll wrestle with it more later. But most importantly, the light works. And I didn't electrocute myself. <wink> Thank you!! :thumbup:

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