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Connect Wires Light Fixture Video


Connect Wires to Light Fixtures

Tim Carter demonstrates how to connect wires to a simple light fixture.

Screws For Wires

Simple light fixtures that you find in basements and garages usually have different colored screws where you attach the wires.

You want to put the HOT black wire on the brass screw and the neutral white wire on the silver screw.

If you do it backwards, you'll energize the threads inside the socket and if you touch the threads on the bulb as you screw it in, you could get ZAPPED!

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Fixtures With Wire Leads

If you have a light fixture that has short wires that are part of it, connect them this way:

  • Black to black
  • White to white
  • Green to bare copper ground wire

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22 Responses to Connect Wires Light Fixture Video

  1. While you're in there switching out a fixture or installing a new one, what about checking with a voltage detector that the black wire *is* indeed the hot wire? I've done a lot of lighting swaps, and I've found white as hot more than once, not just on lights but on plug-in sockets as well. For a single-pole switch, this should never be the case if it was done right, but don't bet your life on "never".

  2. The third (bare) wire is the ground. On a metal fixture, there would be a grounding screw (often green) that you attach this wire to. On this one, it wouldn't be attached to anything; just coil it back into the box behind the fixture, making sure it's not going to touch the bare ends/connections of the others.
    (I've seen these ground wires cut shorter to get them out of the way, but I'm reluctant to do that because the next guy might swap out this fixture for a metal one later, and he'll need this.)

  3. Good tip, I learned that in 4-H electric probably close to thirty years ago and take it for granted that it comes naturally to me but others would have no idea: Black-Brass BB

  4. Tim may have a better rule, but with a metal junction box, ground the box thus grounding the fixture mounting screws. Also, maybe the following is overkill, but I put a strip of electrical tape over the screws before mounting the fixture. I respect electricity. It can't be seen nor trusted.

  5. As a rule, I always use this thought...
    The brass screw is DARKER, attach the BLACK wire,
    and the silver screw is LIGHTER, attach the WHITE wire.

  6. Can't resist one more comment. Buy one of those simple and inexpensive two wire circuit testers. Make sure it is one with a pocket clip. The 15 seconds to check for presence of power is well spent. The pocket clip insures it is always available.

  7. Tim,

    Thanks for the very clear explaination of what each screw is connected to inside the fixture. I hadn't ever thought of it that way. Makes perfect sense.

  8. I've always assumed Black wires went to Brass screws and White wires went to Bright screws. (It sort of rhymes) I know this isn't always the best way and a circuit tester is the best way, but for me, I don't tackle complex things.

    The video, however, explains it well and I didn't see anything schmaltzy at all. Its well presented and I appreciate it.

  9. Why are you telling people to change their old fixtures by themselves? Are you trying to kill someone or burn a house down. Most people have no clue what they are doing when it comes to electricity. Leave it to the professionals!!!

    • Bill, You're wrong. Usually comments like this indicate the person has a dog in the fight. Are you an electrician worried that you'll soon be out of work? Bah! Seventy-eight percent of people are NOT DIYrs. Plus, if you ARE a pro, do you remember that FIRST DAY ON THE JOB where you didn't know squat about electricity? You received advice from an expert, followed it and I assume you've not burned down too many houses, right?

  10. Good timing posting this tip!
    Am about to switch out a bunch of light fixtures.
    Love the B=B tip. It's something this old memory can remember.

  11. Tim and other savvy electrical guys, the last post about old floor Lamps without polarized plugs could be addressed with a continuity tester touching either the threads or the copper terminal at the center and a wire where the old plug was before you cut it off in preparation for the safety upgrade, couldn't it? I use a 100 watt equivalent cfl bulb in my reading light but my wife has to gave a 200 watt incandescent built with a mogul base on hers. Do either or both need polarized plugs?

  12. Nice job simulating electrocution, Tim. I actually laughed out loud. Did you get that shot in one take. thanks for the tip and the chuckle.

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