How to Hang a Light Fixture When Fixture Wires Are Not Color Coded

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There is no need to panic when a light fixture you want to install is equipped with single-color or clear wire insulation. In such cases, the fixture will have only two insulated wires intended for the circuit and may or may not have a grounding wire. This type of fixture is probably older or may be antique, but it can be wired safely and easily connect to your standard house circuitry.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife or wire strippers
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire nuts
  • Vinyl electrician's tape
  • Inspect the light fixture to ensure that it is safe to use. Do not attempt to install a fixture with frayed or cracked wires, a broken or loose socket, or missing parts.

  • Turn the electrical power off to the circuit the fixture is being installed on. The lighting circuit will be controlled by a breaker switch or fuse within the home's main electrical panel.

  • Extract and separate the two insulated wires from the light fixture. Remove about 1/2-inch of wire insulation from both wires using a utility knife or wire strippers.

  • Connect one of the wires from the fixture to the black circuit wire from the junction box and secure the ends together with a wire nut.

  • Connect the second wire from the fixture to the white circuit wire from the junction box and secure the ends together with a wire nut. Wrap the connections with a short strip of electrical tape to ensure that the wire nuts are held in place.

  • Connect the copper ground wire to the ground screw on the fixture, if applicable, or to one of the two junction box screws. This will ground the fixture to the box when it's secured in place.

  • Secure the base of the fixture to the junction box using junction box screws into the threaded tabs. For center post mounted light fixtures, attach the center post bracket to the junction box and feed the threaded center post through the hole in the fixture base to secure in place.

  • Turn the power on to the fixture's circuit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Basic household wiring projects are simple to complete without professional help, but caution must be taken to ensure safety from electrical shocks by confirming that the power has been terminated at the main power source prior to starting the project and insulated tools are used throughout. If you are not confident in the necessary precautions or do not fully understand the wiring involved, enlist a licensed electrician to complete the work.
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