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brand-aid 09-09-2010 09:57 PM

red,white,black wires from ceiling box to ONLY white,black of light fixture - HELP !!
Hi there, to some a stupid question ... but I need help !!!

In the ceiling box, there is 1 red wire, 1 black, and 4 white all bound together acting as 1 ... I have a new semi-flush ceiling light fixture which has a copper ground wire which connects to a green screw (that I know) ... I'm assuming the white (from fixture) goes to the white (from box) ? What does the black (from fixture) go to, and what happens to either the black or red (from ceiling) ? Please help !!!

McSteve 09-09-2010 10:13 PM

What was there before?

brand-aid 09-09-2010 10:25 PM

Thanks McSteve !

an old ceiling light fixture was there before ... and was wired as the following -

white to white
black to black
red to another black ...

the old fixture had 2 blacks and a white (maybe one of the 2 blacks had a stripe in it ... can't remember)

my issue is that the new fixture only has 1 black and 1 white and a bare copper ground which always goes to the supplied green screw ... and the ceiling box has 1 black, 1 white, and 1 red ... ps, no ceiling fan ! pps, only one switch controlling this light !

i connected - copper to ground/screw, white to white, black to black, and capped off the red ... nothing happens, doesn't turn on, and doesn't blow fuse ?

help !!!

brand-aid 09-09-2010 10:29 PM


Originally Posted by McSteve (Post 498679)
What was there before?

could I assume the following for the correct hook-up ?

white to white
red (of ceiling box) to black (of fixture)
and cap the black (of ceiling box)


white to white
red and black (of box) to black (of fixture)


McSteve 09-09-2010 10:31 PM

Okay, that's weird... What kind of light fixture was it? Something is strange.

Do you have a voltage tester or multimeter? If so, separate out the red and black wire in the ceiling box so they're not touching anything. Turn the power on, and carefully check for voltage between red & white, and black & white with the switch on and off. Remember to turn the power back off after this test.

Which ever wire has voltage with the switch on, and no voltage with the switch off, that's the one you want connected to the new light fixture's black wire. The fixture's white wire should join the wirenutted white wires in the box.

If the voltages don't make sense, than something else is going on and will require further investigation.

brand-aid 09-09-2010 10:37 PM

no ... I don't ... thanks for your reply ...

I'm leaning towards white to white, red to black and capping off the black from the box ... what do you think ?

frenchelectrican 09-09-2010 10:40 PM

How old this home is ???

I know with older home the wiring connections can get little wonky if not carefull.


brand-aid 09-09-2010 10:46 PM

home is only 35 yrs old ... not sure about old fixture ... it was there previously ... and was 4 qty @ 60 bulbs, in round white globes with wood and brass, so I'm gonna estimate a late 70's/early 80's fixture ?

McSteve 09-09-2010 10:47 PM

You should probably invest in some kind of voltage tester for electrical work, it can save loads of time and prevent the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

That said, I suppose you could connect the fixture white to the whites in the box, and the fixture black to the red, try it, then try the fixture black to the black. One way or the other should work, and then you would cap off the unused wire.

I just can't for the life of me imagine why the original fixture would have had two black wires, especially connected to two different wires in the box.

frenchelectrican 09-09-2010 10:49 PM

Ok we are getting there .,

Now for the switch box is there one switch or two switches or do you have three way switchs in there ?

That will make the diffrence on how it connected.


brand-aid 09-09-2010 10:52 PM

sounds good ... I'll try it tomorrow, a little late to be working in the dark :)

thanks for your replies !!!

ps ... maybe 1 of the 2 black wires had a stripe in/on it ??? I'll look tomorrow, i'm not at the house now to check

thx again !!!

Piedmont 09-10-2010 09:12 AM

A common reason why there would be a white, black, and red at the light is when someone wants to control 2 seperate items from a similar location.

Examples would be, a ceiling light/fan where someone wants the fan controlled by one switch and the lights controlled by another. Or a kitchen they want the recessed lights over the counters operated seperately from the other recessed lights in the middle of the room. Or a TV/movie room, the outer lights operate seperate from the inner. I did this on my porch, I wanted the recessed light over my entry operated seperately from the other recessed lights.

Instead of running two lines of 14-2 (white + black), run a single 14-3 instead (white + black + red) from the two switches to the first light, and from that first light then branch off to the two individual circuits. Have one switch use the red and another use the black, and both circuits share the neutral. This may be what's going on with your current situation, and if there are other items/lights operated by the same switch that's attached to the red, the blacks of the lights down the line would tie into the red... while the blacks of the other switch would tie into the black of the 14-3. It's hard to explain.

The switch that controls this, is there actually 2 switches (one controls the one you're working on and there's another next to it that controls something else)? If there's 2 switches, does one have a red wire on one screw and a black on the other, and the other switch have a black wire on both screws?

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