What do electrical wire color codes mean angie’s list year 6 electricity assessment

With only a white and black wire coming from the electrical box for the fixture. We attach the bare wire to the box and leave it long enough to be attached to the light fixture bare wire. Or the bare can be attached to the box so it bonds the light fixture. Now the white wire is the neutral and is only attached to the white wire of the fixture . Leaves the black or switched hot to be attached to the black wire of the fixture. \if the fixture has more than one white, join them all together with the white wire from the box and so with all the black wires. Pinch all the same color wires with one hand then with your pliers give all the stripped a twist. Should be 1/2 bare or so then if need be trim all to the same length and apply a wire nut tight. Pull on the connection to make sure it is connecting all the same wires then repeat for the other color wires. Good practice is to wrap a small amount of tape around and up over the wire nut. put in a bulb and test before screwing the fixture to the box. Good luck

Does the pendant light have a replaceable bulb? Is the bulb a 110VAC to 130VAC-rated bulb? (versus a 12Volt DC bulb) If so, it is important from a safety viewpoint how the wires are to be connected. One of your clear wires should be connected to the center tab inside the bulb socket. That will be the hot or load wire. It will carry the voltage to the bulb. At the other end it will connect to a black wire. The insulation should be smooth on the outside opposite the other wire.

The other clear wire should have a small rib running parallel to the wires on the outside of the insulation on the side away from the other wire. Look and feel it carefully. One of the wires’ insulation MUST be marked with a color difference or the ribbing. This rib marks the groundED or neutral wire to the circuit. (notice, I did not say groundING. Grounding wires are bare or have green insulation. They are the safety wires in the electrical system). The neutral wire should be connected to a white wire in the box. At the bulb end it will connect to the outer shell of the socket. It is important from a safety viewpoint because if you should happen to touch the threaded part of the bulb while you are screwing it in or taking it out, you do NOT want it to have any voltage on it.

If you still can not identify which wire is the grounded or neutral wire, use a continuity checker, meter, or other device to determine which wire is connected to the outer shell of the bulb socket. If you don’t have one of these, take the pendant to a friend or back to the store where you bought it and ask them to help you identify which wire is the neutral wire.

Short version — the guy doing the wiring isn’t clairvoyant and the next guy working on it is neither clairvoyant nor the one who actually did the initial wiring — and there is a real need to know — at both ends of a wire — that it the same *one* wire. Before computers and glass fiber, the telephone company had thick black cables with 128 wires inside — they only needed two for each telephone conversation, but it had to be the *same* two from Maine to California. So first, they made it into 64 pairs of two wires each (there were other advantages) and then using 6 colors and having a second color for the second wire (e.g. white & orange, white & blue, red & green) they could have a means of identifying each of the 64 pairs of wire.

Think in terms of 64 very long extension cords all connected to different things a thousand miles away, and you have to know which *one* extension cord to plug in, with bad things happening were you to mistakenly plug in any of the wrong 63. The only reason the wire’s insulation is colored is so that you can distinguish between them. And hence the black hot, white neutral which dates back to the days of "knob & tube" – exposed 1/4" copper wires on porcelain insulators – where you could clearly see where each wire went. You could see the hot wire going into the switch (this one *always* hot) and you could see the wire coming out that was only hot when the switch was turned on. Both are "hot" wires, but if you confuse the first for the second, or somehow connect the two together, the switch won’t do anything — nothing will happen when you turn the switch "off" because it has been bypassed.

So you use a red wire coming out of the switch — you know that the black one is *always* hot, and the red one is *sometimes* hot (i.e. when switched "on") and you connect the red (and not black) to your light fixture, connect the white to the other side of that, and, like magic, you have a light you can control with the wall switch. (CAVEAT: Always presume red is *always* hot unless you know otherwise, it’s used for other things too.) And this is why you use sometimes use yellow for the wire from the switch to the light fixture — you may already have red in the same conduit and don’t want to confuse the two. Hence yellow being the wire coming from the switch, used ONLY for the lights that switch controls. After all, there may be reasons why the hot wire going *to* the switch is red instead of black, and were you to use two red wires on the switch, you’d have the same issues if you were using two black ones.

Now say you want to have a switch at the top and bottom of the staircase so that you can turn the light on/off from either end — a "3-way switch." Instead of the on/off switch, these are switches that are either/or — there are two wires between them and the light goes on when both switches are connected to the *same one* — and it doesn’t matter which one is used, but each switch is hot and the light goes on when electricity can come in via one switch, go through either wire to the other switch, and then to the light. Otherwise, it is off. You need to distinguish the wires that connect the two switches from (a) the always hot, (b) the hot-when-on feeding the light, and (c) the neutral (and green ground if applicable). Hence the use of yellow and sometimes blue, and it gets a bit more complicated when you have a *4*-way switch — any one of *three* switches able to turn a light on or off.

Now this is assuming that whoever did the initial wiring was following the rules (think of the person that doesn’t stop for the red light and the problems that can cause) — and that everyone who has worked on it since then did likewise. If you see Aluminum wire (silver rather than copper-colored metal under the insulation), presume otherwise. While still used for big wires (e.g. the feed to the breaker box), the short version it that was used for the 15/20 amp circuits for a couple years in the 1970s until people realized (a) that it was more brittle than copper, (b) that it was breaking, and (c) it was causing fires. It often breaks inside a wall, and then whatever it was connected to stops working — and people doing a good job simply yank it all out and replace with new copper wire. Or you get creative, and I once found the *ground* (not neutral) being used as the hot, with the outlet then grounded directly to the baseboard radiator — it worked fine until the tenant tried to use an air conditioner….

The most important thing about wire color is not will something work if you get it wrong — it usually will — but what will happen if the next person presumes you did it the way you were supposed to — and you didn’t. Think of driving down the road, through a green light — you are presuming that the 100,000 lb truck will stop for the red light and hence not sideswipe you.