I am trying to install a new light fixture. The ceiling mount has three white wires and one black one. The problem is that the fixture has two white wires and one black wire. They do not match up.

(I previously had a disco strobe light in the basement.)

  • 5
    How was the previous fixture connected? Can you take a picture showing all the wires you're talking about?
    – gregmac
    Oct 26, 2012 at 16:34
  • See the faq for how to upload a photo before you have the rep.
    – BMitch
    Oct 26, 2012 at 17:48
  • 1
    Did any of the wires in the mount have a wire nut on them? Was there a label, sticker or stripe on any of the white wires because sometime this will signify a switch traveler. Oct 27, 2012 at 1:55
  • We need a photo. And need to know if the switch reads ON/OFF or is blank and plain.
    – Bryce
    Oct 27, 2012 at 5:48
  • With the power off, poke around in the box and see if all the wires are coming from the same direction, or if some are coming from one direction and some from the other. May 6, 2014 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


This fixture is not wired per code, you should have only one white wire for each colored wire, you should never have only one colored wire and more than one white wire.

What the previous posters are suspecting is you have a three-way circuit so that two or more switches can control the fixture.

You can use a multi-tester of test light to see if you have current between the black wire and one of the white wires when the switch is turned on. If you have current through more than one white wire then stop and call an electrician. You might inadvertently overload a neutral. If your switch does not read on and off then you probably have a three-way circuit and you may need an electrician to sort it out.

  • 1
    What code are you referring to?
    – Tester101
    Jan 6, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    Bro code, obviously. May 6, 2014 at 20:59
  • "you should never have only one colored wire and more than one white wire.".....This is not at all true. There are many instances where you'd have one hot wire and more than one neutral wire spliced. Sep 4, 2014 at 12:02

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