while installing a new light to replace the existing i found that there was only the black wire that was being used from the box. both the red and white wire in the box ran straight thru the box and were not being used. how can i hook up the new light that has black and white wires?

  • Did the old light work? Are you 110% sure there was no white wire? Did the old lamp have a white wire possibly connected to its own chassis, or to a ground/green/bare wire? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 2 '20 at 19:20
  • yes, the old light worked. There is only one black wire that can be connected to. the wiring in the ceiling is 3 wire bx. i did did cut the existing white wire in the bx and hooked it up to the white wire in the light. the switched then worked the light. but when i turned the switch off there light still was slightly lit. – steve Mar 2 '20 at 19:34
  • I agree with Harper there needs to be 2 connections for a light to work. If there was not a light you would normally tap into to the hot and neutral , guessing the black is the hot and white neutral. But there had to be 2 connections possibly the white fell out of a wirenut when you took the black down. You commented while I was typing, your switch is electronic or a lighted handle that is not compatible with led type lights. – Ed Beal Mar 2 '20 at 19:35
  • no the white runs ( or did until i cut it and connected it to the light) straight thru the box along with the red – steve Mar 2 '20 at 19:39
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    I want to know if the old lamp's white wire went to the chassis of the lamp. I suspect someone bootlegged ground off the BX jacket, and was returning current that way. Not good. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 2 '20 at 19:42

My working theory is that the old light was built without neutral wires, because the builder gained the kindergarten knowledge that equipment safety ground is typically bonded to neutral back in the main panel. Therefore (neutral) current can be returned on safety ground if you totally disregard the purpose of safety ground and neglect the very serious safety implications of misusing it.

Often in a custom lamp, the lamp is 99% creative inspiration by a master of metalwork or other non-electrical craft, and 1% electrical wiring tossed in as an afterthought with no skill in the domain.

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