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I am replacing a light socket in a ceiling lamp.

The old socket had two short wires permanently attached to the socket, which were then connected to the wires coming out of the ceiling with wire nuts (neat looking ceramic ones actually, I think it was done in the forties or fifties).

My new socket has screw terminals, so I am thinking I can just connect the wires from the ceiling directly to the screw terminals.

These are all copper wires.

Is there some reason I should instead attach a new wire to the screw terminals and then use a wire nut to connect that?

It looks like this (although the mounting bracket is a different shape):

enter image description here

  • What do the manufacturer's instructions say? – Comintern Aug 3 '14 at 15:06
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    Are the wires copper or aluminum? – Tester101 Aug 3 '14 at 15:25
  • I know it is a pain, but in this case a photo would be worth at least a 1000 words (even one from the manufacturer's brochure). – wallyk Aug 3 '14 at 15:36
  • @Comintern I didn't get any and I couldn't find any on the website. I couldn't even find the exact product on the website. – Samuel Edwin Ward Aug 3 '14 at 21:17
  • @Tester101, all copper. – Samuel Edwin Ward Aug 3 '14 at 21:17
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I WOULD NOT attach the building wiring directly to the socket. I would use some #16 or #18ga stranded leads from the socket.

There needs to be some flexibility between the socket and the house wiring since even something as simple as changing lamps will move the socket around a bit, as well as expansion and contraction from the extreme heat generated by the lamp.

The reason the new socket has terminals is because it is a replacement socket. Factory sockets usually have leads to save assembly labor.

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As long as the wiring is copper, there should be no problem using the screw terminals. If you're in the US, black (hot) to brass, white (neutral) to silver.

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I would use a pigtail (short piece of wire) between the building wiring and the socket, attached with a wire nut. The reason is pretty simple - every time you replace the socket you probably need to cut off and restrip the end of the wire. Eventually that wire gets so short that its difficult or impossible to attach the socket to.

If you use the wire nuts and a short wire, its only that short wire you will need to cut and restrip (until it too gets too short).

Generally, especially with older wiring, the wires that are in the box are already pretty short and hard to work with, so the pigtail gives you more room to work with while wiring the socket.

  • How many times do you think a socket like this gets replaced?? Once or twice in the life of the fixture maybe. – Speedy Petey Aug 5 '14 at 11:19
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    @speedypetey Every time you redecotate and want a different fixture. Every time you break it (I'm clumsy, edison base sockets are fragile). Over the course of 50 years it adds up. – Grant Aug 5 '14 at 12:17
  • I am talking about terminating the solid building wiring directly to the socket terminals. This is NOT something you would typically do since pretty much every fixture I have seen has leads. So replacing a fixture or redecorating would not be an issue. I am referring to this one specific instance that the OP is in. When have you ever seen a factory new fixture where the building wiring terminates on a socket? – Speedy Petey Aug 5 '14 at 17:49

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