Connecting 4 wires to 3 wires - track lighting


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Old 11-17-07, 09:41 AM
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Connecting 4 wires to 3 wires - track lighting

I am trying to install track lighting. From the house, we have a black wire (live), a red wire (live), a white wire (neutral), and a green wire (ground). The track lighting has a black wire (live), a white wire (neutral) and a green wire (ground). We tried connecting the house's black, white, and green, to the track light's black, white, and green, but it's not working. We didn't connect the house's red wire to anything since there wasn't a match on the track lighting.

Should we try connecting both the house's black and red wires to the track lighting's black wire?

Thanks for any advice.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 10:04 AM
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How was it connected before? You would connect it the same way. Is it a switched circuit? What are the connections at the switch. How do you know both the red and black are hot. You didn't use a digital meter did you? If this was a fan then one wire may be a never used wire for a fan light. In that case the red wire may be the correct wire. We need to know all wires though not just the ones you think are relevant. Could also be red is unswitched and black is switched or both part of a switch loop (less likely).
 
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Old 11-17-07, 11:17 AM
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You need to provide more information.

How were things connected before?

What do you mean it's not working? If the wires are what you say they are, then it will work.

I suspect that the red wire is switched, meaning that you would connect to the red, white and ground wire.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 06:48 AM
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in that instance where would the black wire go?
 
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Old 11-18-07, 07:13 AM
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This is what we have: This used to be a back porch and the swich opperates the light in the basement and what used be the the porch light. The wire that went to the porch light was simply cut and left sticking out of the wall.

Our intention is to put track lighting on that wire.

First, I put a box in the wall where the wire was sticking out. (This wire coming out of the wall is the kind that has red, black, white, and ground.)
Then I ran Romex thorugh the wall to a celing box I installed. The Romex i used to get from the wall (junction box) to the ceiling box is the three wire kind - black, white, ground.

At the switch: A red and black wire are on one side (black on top position, red on bottom. I presume this is the positive side. Both the black and red wire lead to seperate wire nuts where they are connected to two like colored wires (one black to two other blacks / one red to two other reds). The ground wire is grounded on the switch. The wite wires are not on the physical switch; They are connected to each other.

At the wall junction I have tried the following combinations: (ground to ground always)

1. Wall black to ceiling black / wall white to ceiling white / wall red to nothing

2. Wall black and Wall red to ceiling black / white to white.

3. Wall red to ceiling black / white to white / wall black to nothing.

(note: under setup #2 the light in the basement stays on regardless of the switch position.)

Where the track lighting connects to the ceiling box I have connected black to black white to white and ground to ground.

With $2 testers i was able to determine that the power is getting to the ceiling junction box.

Yet, there is no light coming from the track light.

If anyone has any other suggestions it would be appreciated. Let me know if there are any questions too.


Thanks

Dave in Denver
 
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Old 11-18-07, 09:21 AM
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At the switch: A red and black wire are on one side (black on top position, red on bottom.
Position on switch is meaningless. Does the switch have 2 or 3 3 screws in addition to the ground screw? What you describe sounds like a three way switch with a second switch some where else.
I presume this is the positive side.
No. Positive and negative are DC voltage terms.
Both the black and red wire lead to seperate wire nuts where they are connected to two like colored wires (one black to two other blacks / one red to two other reds). The ground wire is grounded on the switch. The wite wires are not on the physical switch; They are connected to each other.
Assuming this isn't one switch of two or more on a mukti switch circuit mark where each red and black wire is located then seperate and using a test light check with an analog volt meter or test light between neutral (white) and each of the red and black wires for voltage. Post your results.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 09:40 AM
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Thanks for the reply.

On the switch, besides the ground, there are 2 screw connections.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 09:45 AM
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also this is the only switch to the light in the basement and the old porch.

Tnx
 
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Old 11-18-07, 09:59 AM
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You state that you have determined that power gets to the ceiling box, but you haven't stated HOW you determined that. What did you test?


You have not verified this (or if you did you neglected to tell us), but I suspect that the red wire is switched hot and the black wire is always hot. Please verify this and tell us. Yoiur statements imply this.

Verify proper power at every step along the way. You are obviously doing something wrong, and since you aren't giving us the entire picture (I know you're trying) it;s hard for us to troubleshoot.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 10:14 AM
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To answer the last question:

You state that you have determined that power gets to the ceiling box, but you haven't stated HOW you determined that. What did you test?

I took testers (the kind that has a black side and a red side and a small bulb at the end) $2 at hardware store.



First, with power on, I held red side of tester to white wire in ceiling junction box and black side of tester to black wire in ceiling junction box. the light came on regardless of position of switch.

Second, I held red side of tester to white wire in wall junction box and black side of tester to red wire. The light on the tester only would come on if the switch was in the on positon.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 10:23 AM
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You have now confirmed that the red wire is switched hot and the black wire is always hot, just as I suspected and just as would typically be the case.

Connect your new light to the red wire and the white wire if you want it switched and to the black wire and white wire if you want it always on.
 

Last edited by racraft; 11-18-07 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 11-18-07, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for your reply.

You said:

Connect your new light to the red wire and the white wire if you want it switched and to the black wire and white wire if you want it always on.

I want it on the switch, so just to clarify, connect my light which has black white and green in the following manner from the light black to red and white and white (from light) to black?

sorry for the confusion
or do you mean from the light connect black wire to red and white (from light) to white?

tnx dave
 
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Old 11-18-07, 10:50 AM
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  • Leave the black hot alone. (cap and/or tape it for safety)
  • Connect the black from light to switched red.
  • Connect white to white and ground to ground.

*Note: If you tried both black and red together on the light at the same time, that is 240V (when the switch is on), which could have damaged the light. If you did this and you find it's not working after connecting it like racraft said, you know the problem.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 10:59 AM
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Note: If you tried both black and red together on the light at the same time, that is 240V (when the switch is on), which could have damaged the light. If you did this and you find it's not working after connecting it like racraft said, you know
Only if they were on different legs and that woul;d trip the breaker.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 12:01 PM
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Connecting the red and black together has the effect of taking the switch out of the picture. It would not in this case or any case similar create 240 volts.
 
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Old 11-19-07, 06:04 AM
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Thanks soley to the help from this site and my own stuborn obstanace, I am happy to report that everything is working and the track lights are up. Thanks again to those who took time out of there busy day to lend a hand. Where do I send the cold pizza and warm beer?

Dave
 
 

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