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I want to install a ceiling fixture. I have the manual and it looks pretty easy, but in the manual, it looks like I should have 2 cables coming out of my wall. Instead, I have 3. I don't know what to do now.

The old fixture on my wall has 3 holes for wiring, labeled N, Loop, and A.

I live in Queensland, Australia.

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Call an Electrician. – Steven Aug 15 '12 at 15:43
And you forgot to check how it was connected to the old lamp.. oops :) Loop can either mean it needs to be connected to A because it goes to another loop switch or connected to N because it acts like ground loop. You need a multimeter to verify where the cable goes. We cannot answer that question with certainty. – ppumkin Aug 15 '12 at 15:44
A is Active (HOT) and N is Neutral. Loop is for continuing on to another light in the sequence. – Chris Cudmore Aug 15 '12 at 15:47
@ChrisCudmore: Please post your answer as an answer. – Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 15 '12 at 16:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Warning: Contains Dangerous Discussion. Call an Electrician.

I did a quick search on Australian wiring, and found out that A is "Active", which would be considered HOT in other countries. N is Neutral, and Loop is for carrying on to other outlets or switches.

This link https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/toolbox/electrotech/toolbox1204/resources/04diagrams/04lighting/05loops.htm shows loop being used, in two different instances, on both the neutral and the Active sides of the circuits. So in your situation, the best answer can only be: It Depends.

My suspicion is that there is another light connected to this one -- Did two lights turn on at the switch under the old install? If so, you need to pigtail (See below) the Loop wire to either the A or N wire (But we don't know which!!!) to carry on the circuit to the other light.

My starting assumption would be that the Loop should be pigtailed to the A, but it's dangerous just to go ahead and try that. You have a 50% chance of being right, and a 50% chance of shorting out the circuit. Hopefully, this would result in a breaker tripping, but it could result in a fire. So call an electrician.

Pigtails - Two wires in a circuit twisted together with a small (4-5 inch) length of wire. Typically this is used to both carry on the wiring to another device, with the small length being used as a tap, feeding the local device. All three wires are twisted together with the appropriately sized wire nut. http://electrical.about.com/od/wiringcircuitry/ht/pigtailwireconn.htm

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Thanks you niallc for edit my question and thanks a lot to chriscudmore.....you been really helpful :-) – Otilia Solano Aug 15 '12 at 16:43
The loop wiring system was developed in wartime UK because it saved the amount of precious copper wire used over the more common branch system. It is not favoured in the rest of the world because it can be easily dangerous if worked on by someone unfamiliar with the system. Most of us have only theoretical knowledge of this system at best, so to reiterate the common chorus, consult a qualified electrician. – bcworkz Aug 15 '12 at 22:26

The 'loop' terminal on the wall switch is utilised when multiple switches are used to operate the lights in one light circuit.

For example, you have multiple entrances into a kitchen, placing a light switch at each entrance negates the need to cross a dark room to reach the single light switch; the loop terminal allows for either switch in the loop to turn the lights on or off at each point.

This is the loop terminal's ONLY function and normally has a partial covering over it from new to prevent its accidental use.

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