Understanding Electrical Wiring for Ceiling Light Fixtures

Understanding Electrical Wiring for Ceiling Light Fixtures

Understanding Electrical Wiring for Ceiling Light Fixtures

By Dave Rongey — Summary:

Wiring Ceiling Light Fixtures

  • When I unhooked the ceiling fan I found that there are four different sets of wires coming into the ceiling box. So there is four black wires, and four white wires, and no ground wires.
  • This box is controlled by one light switch, that controlled both the fan and light at the same time.
  • My question is how do I hook this up? I have not unhooked any of the wires since I removed the fan. Currently, all black wires are tied together with one white wire tied in also.
  • All other white wires are tied together also.
  • There is one extra black wire(the one that is with the white wire tied to the blacks)that was attached to the fan wiring. So in all, there is three wires that were attached to the fan/light fixture, two black wires and one white.
  • I am very confused about this.
  • I am sure it is a middle of circuit scenario. As you can likely tell, I know very little about this and was expecting a simple replacement of the fan.

Background: Alan, a Homeowner from Jackson, MO.

Dave the Electricians Reply:

Thanks for your Electrical Wiring Question Alan.

Light Fixture Electrical Wiring and Connections

Application: Ceiling Mounted 120 volt Light Fixture.

Understanding Electrical Wiring for Ceiling Light Fixtures

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.

Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.

Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the light fixture.

Precaution: Identify the circuit breaker for the light fixture, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.

Notice: Installing additional fixture wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Ceiling Light Fixture Electrical Wiring and Connections

Depending on the age of the home there may be one or more cables found in the ceiling junction box. These cables are used for distributing power to the light fixture, the wall switch, and may provide power to wall receptacle outlets as well.

  • The fixture box you are referring to has one 2-wire cable providing the line or power in, two 2-wire cables that take power to other locations and one 2-wire that is used for the switch which explains why you see a white wire attached to the other black wires.
  • You will notice that the black wire of this last 2-wire cable was the one that supplied the power for the light fixture. All the remaining white wires are neutrals.


This may not reflect each and every wiring scenario in the same locations. The exact wring configurations are best identified using a voltage tester to properly identify the electrical wiring, and is best performed by a qualified licensed electrical contractor.

I have provided the following resources that lead to fully detailed information on this website that will assist you with your Light Fixture Electrical Wiring

  • Bedroom Electrical Wiring
  • Electrical Junction Boxes
  • Electrical Code for How Many Wires in Junction Boxes
  • Circuit Wiring
  • Electrical Panel Circuit Listing
  • Lighting For The Home
  • Lighting Electrical Codes
  • Electrical Wire for the Home
  • For more information about Electrical Wiring
  • Electrical Wiring

Electrical Wiring

Home electrical wiring projects with pictures and wiring diagrams.

This link is helpful as a Homeowner

Do-It-Yourself Electrical

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