I'm trying to rewire a couple of identical antique lamps. Unfortunately, I don't have a clear idea of which wire is which. The lamp has been rewired in the past, but it seems it was a long time ago.

There are two wires, which are copper with a clear, yellow-ish rubber insulation. They're exactly the same except for one difference: One wire has a rounded side, while the other is squarish. There is no ridging, and there is no way for me (an amateur) to tell the difference. They have absolutely no other markings aside from what I've described above.

Any help would be appreciated.

Edit: I've managed to identify which wire is which.

  • 1
    PIctures of the lamp, the wiring, the plug, and a description of the reason you are rewiring it would be helpful to provide useful answers. As for "identifying" the wires, as long as they are different I don't quite understand what the problem is with identification. You say there are no ridges or markings, but if one is round and one is square, that is how you identify them of course. – jay613 Mar 17 at 15:01

I assume the lamp has a screw socket for the bulb. In this case, the hot wire connects to the contact at the bottom of the socket and the neutral connects to the screw shell.

You may be able to examine the socket to see which connects where. Otherwise, you’ll need a way to determine electrical continuity (ohm meter, continuity tester, battery and flashlight bulb, etc.) to determine which wire connects to the bottom and is therefore hot.

  • Or, since it's easier to reach the shell than the base, determine which wire connects to the shell and is, therefore, neutral. :) – FreeMan Mar 17 at 14:22
  • 1
    The OP is trying to rewire the lamps. So just make sure you get a polarized plug (one prong is slightly wider than the other) and connect the wider prong to the part of the socket that the bulb screws into to and the narrower one to the center connection. If the lamps are metal and if you REALLY WANT TO BE SAFE, use a 3 wire cord and plug with a ground, attach the ground wire to some convenient place on the lamps. Not really needed, just saying. – George Anderson Mar 17 at 14:28

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