I have two outdoor wall sconces, which are rusting and falling apart. I replaced ONE of them so far, and left the other as-is.

The old one I replaced, there were two sets of wires coming out of the side of the garage powering two independently powered bulbs in the wall sconce (two sets of white, two sets of black, two grounds), while the new ones just use one set of wiring to power both bulbs.

Since I only needed one set of wires, I put caps on the individual wires for the set I wasn't using, and tucked them back into the junction box, and wired up the new set.

Now NEITHER wall sconce will turn on (not the old one, not the new one).

  • I made sure to change the bulbs just in case
  • I made sure the breaker was back on
  • I made sure the light switch was on
  • All of the other lights on the same circuit (garage light) are working

I suspect that I cannot have one set of wires disconnected like I have, and that both sets need to complete the circuit.

My question is, is it safe to wire the unused black and white wires together to complete the circuit? If so, do I need to include the ground wire?

  • 1
    Did you put a multi meter on the two sets of wire to determine that they are truly two hot pairs of wire (and not the in-series connections with the second sconze)? Did you verify your pig-tail connections are tight?
    – N8sBug
    Oct 4, 2015 at 17:19
  • Pigtails are definitely tight. I haven't used a multimeter, I just know that on the old sconce I took off, each bulb had one set of wires going to it, and each set of wires is physically separated coming out of the wall. Oct 4, 2015 at 17:23
  • 2
    I recommend you put a multi meter on it. I'm thinking you might find that you've connected the new sconce up to the wire that is supposed to feed the second sconce and not a power source.
    – N8sBug
    Oct 4, 2015 at 17:25
  • But why then would my old sconce not work at all? I haven't touched that one. Oct 4, 2015 at 17:26
  • 3
    Because the source of power is the pair that you tied-off and the connection you made just connects the new sconce to the second (of which neither are powered). Were there ever two switches (one for each half of the sconce)? When you aren't getting power, when you think you should, a multi-meter is gold. Do you have one?
    – N8sBug
    Oct 4, 2015 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you've wired the second sconce directly up to the first sconce and capped off the power source. They should all be wired in parallel: blacks and whites capped together by color grounds tied off together as well. Check out this great link on wall-mounted-lighting. The picture is the most relevant. Note that the wires of the same color are all connected.

In the future, go straight for the multi-meter when the wiring doesn't make sense, test it carefully with the switch ON and the breaker closed. Mark the wires, draw a diagram, and fix it on paper (verifying that you haven't created a short), then implement it in the fixture. As always, be careful and good luck.

  • 1
    Thanks N8sBug, that was the issue. Got them both wired and working, complete with daylight sensor. They work beautifully. Oct 4, 2015 at 22:21

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