Can you attach light fixture to ceiling with no box?


Old 12-17-13, 08:38 PM
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Can you attach light fixture to ceiling with no box?

In my kitchen, circa 1950s, there was an old florescent light fixture attached to the underside of what is the top portion of the cabinets above the sink that I removed. The old fixture was just screwed directly into the wood but did have capacitors or fuses that the wires were passed through. The wires are encased in a flex steel conduit (as is the whole house). Photo is attached.

There are three wires, I'm assuming the looped wire (which was never attached to the florescent fixture) is the ground and the other two are the hot and neutral. I would assume the hot is the other black but I can never be sure in this house.

I have a new mini pendant fixture for this location that has a plate that is meant to attach to a electrical box (as per the instructions). Is it ok to just make the connections and screw the box directly into the wood "ceiling" or is this violating code or common practice? If I have to install something what would I need to install and how would I do this as there aren't any studs in this area?

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Old 12-17-13, 09:17 PM
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It's hard to see the colors of the wires but the ground would be green or bare only.... no other color. You may have a switched and always live wire at that location.

A pendant light must be attached to a box and it needs to be metal due to the metallic cable.
The only box that comes to mind where you don't need access from above is a cut-in gem box.

You could also use a pancake box if there is a beam next to the wire.

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Old 12-17-13, 09:35 PM
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Thanks. I just found my old tick tester and the two darker wires are both hot and the tan colored wire I'm assuming is the neutral so there is no ground and you were correct that the other looped black wire was probably just added on. Now that I think about it I believe someone mentioned that older houses with steel sheathed wires sometimes didn't have a ground because the metal of the wire was considered a ground. Not sure if that is correct?

Hmm, I can't tell what is in the area above the hole. I know for sure that its an open cavity with no beams or studs and it goes up about 1' from the hole to the ceiling I'm assuming into the attic. The metal sheathing was cold when I pulled it out of the hole.

With the gem box, I'm assuming you would cut a rectangle and the box pushes through the hole but mounts from the bottom side directly into the wood and then the fixture would attach to that?
Old 12-17-13, 10:08 PM
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The two black wires are almost certainly not both hot. Use an analog multimeter to test the wires for voltage.

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