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froddan 11-10-2009 02:37 PM

Replaced Light Fixture, additional wire?
I just removed a light fixture (A), to replace it with another lamp.
After disconneting the light and the wires, there was an additional white wire that came loose, which confused me.

It is a single fixture (A) that is controlled be a switch (1). This switch is in a double box together with another switch(2) which controls another light(B). They both receive the power from the same source in this box.

The other light(B) works fine with switch (2).

At fixture (A) there was another set of wires (Black and White) that appears to go to a single outlet (O). This outlet is currently not working because the wires at fixture (A) are not connected.

The loose wire is a 6 inch piece of "white" wire only, but I don't understand where and how it was connected.

My goal is to get the fixture (A) to be controlled by switch (1), and the outlet(O) to always be powered.
I'm not sure if this outlet always have been powered, or if the fixture(A) had to be turned on for it to function.

Sorry if this seems confusing, I'm obviously not an expert, but have been able to work things out by taking my time.

Thank you!!!

kbsparky 11-12-2009 04:23 PM

Care to post a picture of your ceiling box? Are there any red wires in there?

300zx 11-12-2009 04:39 PM

As kbsparky said we need pics of the wires. How many wires are in the box(light)that is not working?

froddan 11-12-2009 06:15 PM

Sorry, I don't have any pictures, because my wife insisted on putting up the new light, without connecting the additional wires.

No, there was no red wire. That's what I was looking for, because I understand that if a red wire would have come from the switch(?) it could have been connected to the black on the "extension". Is that right?

Again, the wires from the switch to the light is a black, white, ground.
The one from the light to the outlet is also black, white, ground.

I assume if I connect the wires by the fixture the outlet would be controlled by the switch also?

Thank you!!

jbfan 11-12-2009 06:26 PM

If the switch only has a black, white and ground, you have a switch loop.
The power comes into the light and is looped through the switch.
In the light fixture, you will have power in, black, white ground., and a black white ground to the switch.The black from the power in cornects to the white to the switch, and the black from the switch connects to the black of the light fixture.
The white from the power in connects to the white of the light fixture.
If you have a receptacle powered from this light fixture also, the black from the receptacle connects to the black power in and the white to the switch.
The white wire from the receptacle connects to the white of the power in and the white of the light fixture.
If you have a single white wire not connected to anything, then it should go to the white of the power in.
If the wiring in the light fixture is not like I described, then we need to know what wires are there.

Hope this makes sense!

froddan 11-12-2009 06:54 PM

Sorry if my previous post was confusing.
My description was about the acutal light fixture. Not the box with the light switch.

The light switch has power (black, white, ground) coming in, and it then goes from the light switch (black, white, ground) to the light.

Thank you!

kbsparky 11-12-2009 08:40 PM

From your description, it would appear that the wall switch controls both the ceiling light, and the wall outlet. Connect all the wires by color together in the ceiling box, and attach your fixture leads.

froddan 11-13-2009 06:15 PM


Thanks for your responses!

I would be ok with the switch controlling both the light and the outlet.

I forgot to mention that the switch is a dimmer. Would that affect anything?

tpolk 11-13-2009 06:41 PM

usually only one half of a receptacle is switched. are both the top and bottom dead?

frenchelectrican 11-14-2009 01:02 AM

Let me add one more thing with dimmer make sure that is wired for luminaire only not to the switched receptale { the code is very strict with dimmer on switched receptale and there is a specal receptale on market but this is not a common item you will find it }


AllanJ 11-14-2009 01:13 PM

Did the old light fixture have little wires coming out of it or did it have screw terminals?

If it had screw terminals then you need to achieve a three way junction, incoming power, power down to the outlet (receptacle), and power to the screw terminal on the light fixture. You are not allowed to put two wires under one screw so you needed the extra 6 inch length of wire (called a pigtail) to connect to the screw and then the three (black) wire ends are fastened with a wire nut. Repeat for the (white) neutrals.

If you use a dimmer, you cannot wire up a standard receptacle without stringing a new 2 wire cable directly from the outlet box to the switch box, or by stringing a 3 wire cable from the fixture (A) to the switch box.

froddan 11-17-2009 10:55 AM

The old fixture had little wires. The new fixture has screw terminals.

Based on the dimmer responses, a better option seems to be to extend the wire to the receptacle to go directly to the junction box that provides power to the switches. I have easy access to the power in the attic.

Is that a better option?

Thank you!!!

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