I need someone to sort out this wiring question for me. I'm trying to hang a flourenscent light in the garage, however, when I took the old garage light out (one of those round, single light fixtures, with 4 screws on the back for wires), it had 3 wires attached to it.

It had three white wires, one with a stripe (but I believe they are all neutral). No ground or hot. I went into the attic and checked out the junction box and it appears that there are two different wires going to it - one goes to what looks like the breaker box and the other which appears to go to the switch. I do know that the breaker switch for this light actually controls the pantry light, the front door lights and the garage light (the one I'm trying to replace). I'm guessing these are all daisy changed together, thus why they all don't work when I flip the breaker.

Back to the issue -

In the junction box, there was what looked like 3 white wires attached to three screws of the old light fixture. It also appears that there was two black wires (guessing the hot wires) are have a twisted nut cap on them and are tucked away into the junction box. This goes the same with the grounds (bare wires), they are twisted, capped, and tucked away into the junction box. Replacing this fixture has become a real mess of a job, since I don't exactly know where to go from here. If someone could sort this out so that I don't make a mistake, that would be great. The light fixture requires a hot, neutral and ground. Would I be able to just attach all the neutral wires to the new light in the garage (including one for ground) since everything is capped off, or will I need to make some wire changes and uncap the capped stuff?

Hover over any image for description / click for full size

Electrical Junction showing there are two wires Red Wire and white/grey wire hanging from junction box Single white wire coming from junction box Capped Ground Wire Capped Black Wire Attic Image Shown - One wire going to the breaker and the other going probably to the switch

  • don't BELIEVE that they are all neutral CHECK that they are all neutral. get a voltage tester and test what is what. if the old light worked one was neutral one was hot Feb 4, 2012 at 23:24
  • 1
    A picture might be a big help.
    – Tester101
    Feb 5, 2012 at 3:01
  • Updated with pictures Feb 5, 2012 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


I suspect the white wire with the stripe is actually the switched power from the switch. Putting together what you have said, I think your setup probably looks something like this:

enter image description here

Where the green wire is the ground and the red wire is your wire with the stripe.

If this doesn't match up with what you are seeing, then let me know what looks wrong and I will try to figure out how it is setup.

  • That's just about it. Only thing is the overhead light's ground (bare) and hot (black) have a wire nut on them which I'm guessing is its way of connecting two differen't wires together? I just need to know how I can install the fixture correctly. Feb 5, 2012 at 0:45
  • 2
    @drewrockshard Not to sound too mean here, but... The best way for you to hook up this light is to 1.) Pick up the phone. 2.) Dial the number of a local Electrician. 3.) Sit back and enjoy the new light knowing it's installed properly.
    – Tester101
    Feb 5, 2012 at 3:17
  • 1
    It sure sounds like a switched neutral, which is the wrong way to do it. The diagram above is right (except the switched red line is not complete). You need to switch the hot to avoid having any voltage on the fixture in the off position. If you don't understand the concepts of center line switched fixtures or switched hot or neutral, then I'd seek some pro advice as Tester says. Feb 5, 2012 at 13:21
  • Before I give up - I've updated the post with pictures. Maybe this will help out. Feb 5, 2012 at 19:30

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