I'm trying to install a new light fixture in the front hall. Currently, the light is activated by 2 switches (on each end of hall). The NEW fixture has 1 black wire and 1 white wire. The ceiling wires have 2 black and 2 white coming down. The OLD single light has the 2 wires connected separately by a little metal tab.

I tried connecting the 3 black and 3 white together and attached the metal ground to the green screw. It kept on switching the breaker when I went to turn it back on.

How do I connect this light so I can still use all switches? Again, 2 black and 2 white in ceiling, 2 switches, new light has 1 black, 1 white, and 1 ground.

  • 4
    Didn't you label the wires when you disconnected them from the previous fixture?
    – Tester101
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:01
  • 1
    One of the white wires will connect to the white wire on the light. One of the black wires will connect to either the other black wire, or the other white wire. Finally the remaining wire will connect to the black wire on the light.
    – Tester101
    Nov 29, 2012 at 18:03
  • You should have taken notes about how it was wired before you started. Dec 1, 2012 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


What you have is power to the ceiling, and 3-Way switches.

My best guess, is to wire the two blacks together in the ceiling, with a wire nut. One of the whites should be marked. This will go to the Black of the fixture. The other white wire should go to the white of the fixture. And then connect the ground.

So the path will be Panel Hot -> Black wire -> [ Switch Common -> Switch Travellers ->Switch common -> ] WHITE -> Light -> Panel Neutral.

the stuff in Brackets [] is in the wall, and you won't see it.

See this http://diy.blogoverflow.com/2012/01/poles-and-throws/ for more information on 3-way switches.

  • It depends if the power source is going into the box with one of the switches or if one of the wires in the light fixture is the power source. If you pick up voltage on one of the wires in the light fixture box regardless of the switch position then the power source is coming into the light fixture box and the black wire from the power source should be tied to the marked white wire Nov 29, 2012 at 17:48
  • 2
    From his description, it sound's like it's power to the ceiling. If it was power to the switch, it would likely be a black and a white only in the ceiling. Nov 29, 2012 at 17:49
  • Not necessarily, if there used to be a fan there then the light and fan could be wired to seperate switches Nov 29, 2012 at 18:04

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