The lead on my chandelier was too long so I cut it, only to find the wires are not colored (there are 3 of them, all white).

Is there anyway I can still wire it up? I don't want to have to throw it away.

  • One of them is probably the ground lead. You'll need to provide more information.
    – isherwood
    Mar 7 '16 at 22:14

Generally, one of the three wires should be ground, one hot, and one neutral. You should be able to tell which is which by measuring the resistance from each to different parts of the chandelier using a voltmeter with a resistance scale. I'll assume that this chandelier uses standard screw-in bulbs.

First, a sanity check: none of the three wires should be connected to any other (i.e. there should be infinite resistance between any two of the wires).

The ground wire should be connected to the metal body of the chandelier. The hot wire should be connected to the button on the bottom of each lamp socket. The neutral wire should be connected to the threaded sleeve at the side of each lamp socket. (Here's an explanation of hot versus neutral in lamp sockets.)

Note: The chandelier may instead be wired with two hots and a neutral, with one hot going to a third of the bulbs and the other hot to the other two-thirds, giving an easy way to adjust brightness with a pair of switches. If you can't find a ground wire, you might check for this.

Having said all that, get the wiring wrong and you'll have a nice, suspended electrocution hazard. So, if you aren't confident you can figure this out correctly, and in particular if your test results don't make sense to you, do not let it slide; binning may be the way to go.

  • I would just add that when you measure the resistance you could just use the continuity setting of your meter and if you read continuity or get a tone on your meter, then that wire is connected to that part. Otherwise you are looking for almost zero resistance between the respective wires and the parts Daniel described. This should a reasonably easy task.
    – ArchonOSX
    Mar 7 '16 at 22:58
  • Also -- don't assume one of the wires is connected to the metal body, unless you know the chandelier originally had a ground wire. Some multi-bulb lamps are wired with one hot going to about a third of the bulbs and another wire to the remainder. This, used with the appropriate switch, allows three levels of brightness without a dimmer. Mar 8 '16 at 3:59
  • @A.I.Breveleri Excellent point; I'll edit my post. Mar 8 '16 at 11:56

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