Novice wiring question

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  #1  
Old 01-11-13, 05:22 PM
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Novice wiring question

Installing a chandelier in my bathroom. The chandelier of course has the white and black wires and green ground screw. The junction box has the following wires

Gray
White
Black unstripped with no wire nut
Blue


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I assume the gray here is the live, white neutral, and the long unattached black is the ground. What about the blue?
Can I ignore the Blue? Is the ground mandatory? It was obviously not used previously.

Thanks in advance.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-11-13, 06:11 PM
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Colors in the NEC are a follows:
Gray or white, with or without stripes, is the neutral (the grounded conductor)
Bare, green, or green with yellow stripes is the ground
Any other color wire is hot. (ungrounded conductor)

To make sure the gray is really a neutral, take a meter and measure voltage between it and an ungrounded conductor. You should get 120 volts. Then measure between the gray and the white, first with the meter set to volts. Then, if you do not get anything, set it to ohms and take another reading. If it is also a neutral you will get close to zero ohms.

The ground should always be used where available. The unattached black could be either an extra wire for another circuit, or just another switch leg for a ceiling fan. Since I can see it appears to be a fan box.

How many switches do you have for this room?
 
  #3  
Old 01-11-13, 06:24 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

How was the fixture that you removed connected?

I assume the gray here is the live, white neutral, and the long unattached black is the ground. What about the blue?
Can I ignore the Blue? Is the ground mandatory? It was obviously not used previously.
Glad you asked. The black is not a grounding conductor. The path to ground from this box is the box itself and the metal conduit through which the wires were pulled.

Gray should not be live. It is the color designated for neutrals in 277Y/480V systems. If it's spliced to a white wire, as it looks like it is from your picture, and the white wire is a neutral, then it is definitely not a hot wire! Most likely the neutrals were pulled in two slightly colors, or one has become discolored.

How heavy is your new chandelier? That ceiling box may not be rated to hold it. Also, you will need to add an extension to the box, or replace it, to bring the face of it to within 1/8" of the surface of the ceiling.

I suggest you buy a copy of Wiring Simplified. It will help you get a better grasp on how electrical systems work.

ECHO, ECHO, Echo, echo...
 
  #4  
Old 01-11-13, 06:30 PM
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You are going to need to use an extension ring on that box to meet code. It is recessed way too much. What is the wiring at the switch Where is the ground? Is this conduit? (Wires look white to me.)
 
  #5  
Old 01-11-13, 08:40 PM
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There are strict prohibitions against chandeliers and other fixtures that are suspended in bathrooms within 3' horizontally of a tub and 8' above.
 
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Old 01-12-13, 09:09 AM
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I didn't even see that this was for a bathroom. Nice catch PCBoss!
 
  #7  
Old 01-12-13, 03:16 PM
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Thanks for all of the info.

The home is new to me and the previous owners removed the light fixture here, so I don't know how it was previously connected. It is a relatively recent rehab (2003) in a "relatively" old (1886) home. It is conduit.

There are three total light switches in the bathroom, this fixture has only one switch (a dimmer).
The dark gray and white are not spliced together.

Looks like I need to invest in a meter. If the dark Gray and white are connected to the light, and the black is an extra fan switch leg, any thoughts on the blue?

Thanks
 
  #8  
Old 01-12-13, 03:25 PM
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Looks like I need to invest in a meter.
Yes. Remember to get an analog meter, not a digital one. And a book.

If the dark Gray and white are connected to the light,
What dark gray? I can't distinguish one in your picture. What I'm seeing looks like two whites spliced together, two blacks spliced together, a blue with a wire nut capping it and a black that is unconnected and uncapped.

and the black is an extra fan switch leg, any thoughts on the blue?
Several. Post back with what your meter tells you and we can advise from there.
 
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Old 01-12-13, 03:31 PM
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BTW both the white and and dark gray enter from the side of the box and exit thru the top. The black and blue both come from the top of the box.

IMG_2092_zpsab89d568.jpg photo by gbezanis | Photobucket
 
  #10  
Old 01-12-13, 03:41 PM
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In your new picture, I see a black white pair in the 1/2" conduit entering from the side. In the 1/2" conduit entering from the top, I see a second black white pair, plus a single black and a single blue.

The single black and blue appear to be larger gauge wire than the black/white pairs. In addition, the smaller blacks are spliced together and the whites appear to be.

Where is the gray wire?

How high is the ceiling above the floor?
 
  #11  
Old 01-12-13, 04:57 PM
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Here are the color wires Nash and I are seeing. I have lettered each group so you can identfy which group you disagree on the color of.

 
  #12  
Old 01-12-13, 06:04 PM
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In your 2nd picture wires C look to be brown, not gray. A meter would be helpful for sure. A cheap $10 analog meter would be just fine.
 
  #13  
Old 01-19-13, 12:40 PM
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OK I got a meter. The switch here is a dimmer light switch with no fan controls.

"C" (which I would call dark gray relative to the absolute black of "D" - no Brown) is definitely live, reading 120

"B" is a neutral and I will call it white - no reading

"A" is also definitely live reading 120 - it is Blue

"D" is no reading.

The height of the ceiling here is 8 feet 7 inches. The chandelier is relatively small, flushmounted, with only one bulb right at the level of the ceiling.

I looked for an extension for the box, but they were much too large, would extend out from the drywall an inch or so - I would need one about 1/2 inch thick.

Can I just connect "C" to black on my fixture, "B" to white, tuck the others up and be done?

Thanks
 
  #14  
Old 01-19-13, 01:28 PM
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This is the extension you need:
[ATTACH=CONFIG]8078[/ATTACH]

Was your test with the switch on or off? You should test with the switch on and off so you will know which wire is the switch leg (I'm guessing it is wire "c")
 
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  #15  
Old 01-19-13, 02:17 PM
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The chandelier is relatively small, flushmounted, with only one bulb right at the level of the ceiling.
That sounds like a surface mounted fixture, not a chandelier. A chandelier, by definition, is suspended from the ceiling be chain(s) or a rod, and usually holds more than one lamp.

Can I just connect "C" to black on my fixture, "B" to white, tuck the others up and be done?
It's impossible to answer this without seeing how the switch is wired. My guess is that if you only want to be able to turn the light off or on by switching the breaker, that would probably work. If you want to be able to control the light from the switch, you will need to pull the switch out and see what wires are connected to it.

(.kcalb ot "A" dna etihw ot "B" tcennoc ot deen lliw uoy taht gnisseug m'I)
 
  #16  
Old 01-19-13, 03:27 PM
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You are right, I was calling it a chandelier due to all of the glass!

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You are right again about the wires. It is A that is controlled by the switch in question (C is always live). So I will connect A and B to the fixture.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to switch out the annoying Lutron dimmer

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for a simple on/off decora style switch. What amp specification is recommended here?
 
  #17  
Old 01-19-13, 04:35 PM
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Glad you got it, and thanks for the feedback. As far as the switch goes, that controls a single-lamp fixture. The cheapest decora switch in the store will safely do what you want.
 
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