I am replacing originally 1960s sconces. This was how the wiring was found attached to light fixture:

  • Capped white to fixture white
  • Capped red to fixture black
  • Black wires tapped off, in box.

Wiring coming into the box on the right is coming from the first sconce. Wiring on the left goes up to bathroom on second level.

If I replace the wire coming in on the right with a simple black, white, ground wire, does the new black wire connect to existing red, and keep single existing black capped off?

enter image description here

This is the wiring of the first sconce. Power source is coming in from bottom left, (black white, ground). The bottom right (black white) was wiring to hidden outlet behind wood paneling (being removed). The wiring out the top, (black white, red) is what is going to second sconce. This is what I replaced with black white wiring.

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


The typical usage is:

  • Black = always hot
  • White = neutral
  • Red = switched hot

The existing blacks should have a wire nut, not tape. That is an important safety issue.

As far as whether you can replace black/red/white going to the other sconce location (not clear why you would be doing that, which may be relevant) with black/white, that may or may not be possible.

If the only thing in that direction is another light fixture on the same switch as this light fixture, then that should work fine. If so, put a piece of red tape on the black wire (both ends) as a hint to the next person working on this.

However, if there is any of:

  • A switch
  • Power coming from the breaker panel
  • Power going on to another receptacle or separately switched lights

connected to the "right" cable, then you can't do this as you would lose the always hot (currently black) wire.

  • 1
    Thanks for the reply - I added a photo of how I found the first sconce, the reason I am replacing the wiring between sconces is because I am relocating the box and the original wiring isn’t long enough.
    – Brett D
    Jan 29, 2023 at 5:28
  • Where/how is the sconce switch wired? Jan 29, 2023 at 5:40
  • I haven’t done anything to the switch.but it isn’t a 3 way.
    – Brett D
    Jan 29, 2023 at 5:42
  • But it has to connect to sconce wiring somewhere and that's important for figuring this out. Jan 29, 2023 at 5:52
  • Now that I think about it, the wiring I thought was going to the bathroom is more likely to be going into the ceiling light in the same room, as the sconces and the ceiling light are all run off the same switch. The only reason I thought it was bathroom lighting was because it shut off as well when I flipped the breaker.
    – Brett D
    Jan 29, 2023 at 6:07

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