I've shortened a new light fixture, by cutting the cable, when I should've just rolled it up into the cap. Now I don't know which wire is which, they're all a clear colour. Original ends had black on one wire. Don't know what to do, help, all 3 wires are silver....

enter image description here

  • Include some pictures of the wires, fixture and instructions.
    – JACK
    Feb 4 at 17:43
  • 2
    You should always be able to edit your own posts (without waiting for review). But that requires that "you" are "You" and not "you, under a different account" diy.stackexchange.com/help/merging-accounts
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 4 at 22:57
  • Welcome to DIY StackExchange. Please tell if you have a multimeter? If not that would be a much longer story. Feb 5 at 8:17

2 Answers 2


I’m going to answer assuming that the lamp takes a standard “Edison” screw-in bulb and you have a multimeter with a continuity test mode. Also, the wire colors listed assume you are in North America.

Hold one probe to the contact at the bottom of the socket and find the wire that has continuity. That is your hot (black).

Hold one probe to the screw threads inside the socket. The wire that has continuity is your neutral (white).

The last wire should be ground. You can confirm by testing continuity to the outer shell of the docket of any metal part of the fixture frame.

  • What does the picture show that you took before modifying it?
    – Gil
    Feb 5 at 0:55

Normally there is a small physical difference in the insulation on the wires - one side will be smooth, the other will have ridges or lines. Can't see that level of detail in your picture, but if you closely examine the cut off end you may find that difference, and that will indicate which side is hot.

  • doesn't really matter which side is hot, the most important is to wire the ground correctly (if there's a ground on a light fixture, there must be some kind of good reason)
    – njzk2
    Feb 5 at 18:13
  • 2
    @njzk2 -- getting the hot lead correct is important, too; if it's wrong there's a shock hazard when you unscrew the bulb, because the screw part of the bulb is hot. Feb 5 at 18:20
  • turn of the power in the fixture before unscrewing anything, please. You don't know that this wire is done how you think it is. (And you can't really have any idea at all if going via an outlet)
    – njzk2
    Feb 5 at 18:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.