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Old 01-01-2008, 06:12 PM   #1
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Hi, all! I have recently undertaken a renovation of my condo. I left the "messy" work (carpet removal, new flooring, new paint on walls and stucco ceiling, etc.) to the experts, but I've decided to tackle the job of putting up shelving and lighting myself.

So far so good! The guides I've found on the Internet have been very helpful. My breaker panel wasn't labelled, so as a side benefit of installing my kitchen and foyer lighting, I have a proper circuit map now.

Tonight, I wanted to install a new ceiling light (an IKEA CITTRA). There was no existing light installed, since I've been using floor lamps up until now. I removed the round plate covering ceiling box, and found this:



That's one orange wire, two whites, three yellows and four greens. I'm used to seeing only black/red for hot, white for neutral and green for ground (that's how it was in the kitchen and foyer).

There is another unused ceiling box in the area straddling the living room and the kitchen, and I believe that might be controlled by the same light switch (but I don't have a way to confirm yet).

Anyone know which wire is which? I've never seen more than two wires twisted together like that.

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Old 01-01-2008, 06:13 PM   #2
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Oh, and Happy 2008, everyone!

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Old 01-01-2008, 06:31 PM   #3
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Green = ground
White = neutral
Yellow = most likely the hot (120V)
Orange = possibly is also a hot, connected to a switch next to your light switch to turn on/off the ceiling fan (this is common in newer construction).

The Yellow/Orange wire colors are 'different' though for 120V applications.

Get yourself one of these at Sears. It's an inductive voltage checker. Hold it near the wire, if it glows - its energized (90-600 Volts AC)

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Old 01-01-2008, 06:48 PM   #4
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


None of the places I've lived in had a ceiling fan, so that possibility never even crossed my mind. There are two switches on the wall, one of which controls the wall outlets (into which my floor lamp is plugged). The other switch has no visible effect, so I'm guessing (hoping) it controls the ceiling fixture.

I have one of these:

It has an "AC line detector"... can I use that to check for the live wire, or is it not designed to be used that way?
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Old 01-01-2008, 06:51 PM   #5
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Also, if I use the yellow wires, can I simply twist the black wire (from the light) around all three yellow wires? Or do I need to "disconnect" one first? But then I guess I would need to cap the remaining loose yellow wire, hrm...
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Old 01-01-2008, 07:08 PM   #6
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


For this situation, when you attach a new wire, say, from a fixture, to one of the groups of wires, all the others in the group stay. You may need a larger wire nut if the wire nut already there won't go around the bundle with the new wire included.

You could also split a group of wires into two groups, cut a short length of wire of matching color, and use that to connect the two groups together.

In any junction box, when several ground wires enter they are all tied together. Neutrals are only tied togehter when they represent the feed and continuations of the same circuit.up from the panel.

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-01-2008 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 01-01-2008, 07:25 PM   #7
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


I want to talk about inductive voltage testers for a minute. I carry one in my shirt pocket. I think they are an excellent tool that has their uses. That being said...the average homeowner DIYer is much better served getting a solenoid type meter. Often, an inductive tester will give you a false positive do to phantom voltage. Rarely, they will give a false negative, and that will get you killed. Something to think about.

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Old 01-01-2008, 07:26 PM   #8
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
For this situation, when you attach a new wire, say, from a fixture, to one of the groups of wires, all the others in the group stay. You may need a larger wire nut if the wire nut already there won't go around the bundle with the new wire included.
Yeah - you should buy some red wire nuts - they'll hold all the wires. Your current size wire nut is a 'yellow' size.
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Old 01-01-2008, 07:28 PM   #9
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Quote:
Originally Posted by taob View Post
I have one of these:

It has an "AC line detector"... can I use that to check for the live wire, or is it not designed to be used that way?
It's not designed to be used that way. The Fluke inductive voltage checker will tell you WHICH wires are hot... whereas if you use your stud finder, it will just tell you that ONE of the wires are hot.

Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2008, 07:39 PM   #10
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
You may need a larger wire nut if the wire nut already there won't go around the bundle with the new wire included.
I have a handful of the red wire nuts (like AppleMac mentioned), so I'll give those a try. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy in ATL View Post
Rarely, they will give a false negative, and that will get you killed. Something to think about.
Since I wasn't sure which breaker controlled what fixture, I simply shut everything off at the panel. Fridge went out, but that should be fine for the 15 minutes it will take me to install the light. My computers are all on UPS, so I'll still be online in case I need help. I can stop by a Canadian Tire tomorrow morning when they're open again and get a recommendation on a voltage tester there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleMac*Fit View Post
It's not designed to be used that way. The Fluke inductive voltage checker will tell you WHICH wires are hot... whereas if you use your stud finder, it will just tell you that ONE of the wires are hot.
Ah yes, that makes sense. Well, I'm always looking for any excuse to buy new toys^H^H^H^Htools, so you don't need to tell me twice.
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:40 PM   #11
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Unknown wiring configuration in light fixture


Just wanted to come by again to say "thanks", and that my new living room ceiling light fixture is now installed and looking quite nice, thanks to all the sound advice here!

I bought a voltage checker, and sure enough the orange and yellow wires were hot, while white and green were not (hey, that rhymes!). I flipped the appropriate breaker switch... confirmed no more hot wires. I twisted together the black wire from the light fixture to the orange wire, capped them off, flipped the power back on, and voila!

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