The existing box has one black wire and three white wires twisted around each other coming out of it. The existing fixture has one black wire and one white wire. The black was connected to the black and the white to the 3 twisted white. Then a copper wire from the fixture was wrapped around those wires. The NEW fixture has three wires. One is labeled "N" and one is labeled "L". The 3rd wire has an symbol on it of 3 horizontal lines and 1 vertical line. Looks a little like a sailboat! There is also a copper wire.

So... if I connect the "N" to the 3 twisted white wires and I connect the "L" to the black wire, what do I do with the 3rd wire?

  • Can you post photos of the box and the fixture please? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 10 '18 at 2:25

The symbol you described sounds like ground:

Ground symbol

This should connect to the bare wire in your box. All white wires together, all green/bare ground wires together, and the black/L wire to the black wire in the box.

If your fixture has both a bare copper wire and a green insulated one, the green may be to connect different pieces of the fixture. Check the instructions, perhaps it should be bonded to another point on the fixture rather than to the supply wiring.

Finally, do not wrap your ground wire around the other wires in your box. Ground should be kept separate, you don't want to inadvertently have it contact the hot wire (instant short) or neutral (a hard-to-detect failure of the safety ground).


The 3 wires twisted together are neutral leg of power, the ground wire from the fixture was connected to them to make a "bootleg" ground, this was ok at one point in the past before 3 wire circuits were typical and is better than not grounding it but not as good as a real dedicated ground wire, many people figure since ground and neutral are common in the service panel, meaning they are connected indie the service panel, that it is ok to merge neutral and ground other places beyond the service panel but it is not code today. In days past there was situations where a 220v dryer had a 110v timer motor or a 220v oven had a 110v clock motor, they would use the ground wire for the neutral getting 110v using 1 hot leg.

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