Installing light fixture: mess of wires found


Old 08-07-16, 12:45 PM
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Installing light fixture: mess of wires found

Hi All,

Recently purchased a house and am installing a wall sconce at the end of one of the hallways. There is already a light fixture installed, but the wires inside aren't making sense to me. There is a black wire, white wire, and a ground wire. These are simple but the two wires that are giving me grief are the two brown wires. And inside each brown wire is a red and white wire.

When I wire just the black, white, and ground, I have a light that is constantly on. There is a ceiling light in the hallway that is controlled by a switch, but this switch doesn't control the light fixture at the end of the hallway.

So, does anyone know of a possible solution? I'm not the most electrically advanced and I can't, for the life of me, figure this one out. Is it possible the previous homeowner had that light fixture always be on?

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Old 08-07-16, 01:31 PM
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The brown wires are likely low voltage..perhaps from a doorbell? Any chance there was a doorbell there?

You said there was already a light fixture there, how was it wired when you took it off?
Old 08-07-16, 02:23 PM
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It is at the end of a hallway that leads to different bedrooms so I highly doubt that it could be for a doorbell. Unfortunately, the previous homeowner had already ripped the light, or whatever occupied that space, so I have no way of knowing what was there previously.
Old 08-07-16, 02:39 PM
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The red wire is most likely connected with that switch connect the black wire to the red and the white to the white and you should have a switched light. As for the other wires it is hard to say I am not an electrician but I have wired lights before.
Old 08-07-16, 04:10 PM
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If the red and white conductors are inside a brown jacket DO NOT connect 120 volts to them.
Are you sure there is not another switch somewhere?
Old 08-07-16, 07:52 PM
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There is another switch in the hallway that doesn't seem to do anything. I hooked up the light at the end of the hallway and tried this light switch, but the light just stayed on.
Old 08-07-16, 08:43 PM
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Does anyone else see what looks like zip cord in that box?
Old 08-07-16, 09:10 PM
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This does look weird. The thin wires can't be low-voltage, as nobody sane would mix low-voltage with line in the same electrical box. So they must be line...

But the red and white wires in the picture look like they are AWG18 or even thinner. Noone sane would use AWG18 for a 15-Amp circuit. So something's not right with this picture.

Are the thick wires AWG12 or AWG14? Is the cricuit 20 or 15Amp? The picture isn't very clear, but did I get it right, are the red-black wires inside brown jacket (which btw looks black on the picture) much thinner than the black-white-ground wires?

If they were all the same gauge, I'd assume that they power a couple of lights. I would assume red connects to the phase (thick black) and white connects to neutral (thick white), the red goes through a switch (so, there must be 2 switches powered from this outlet). Are there lights that don't turn on anymore after you turned off the power to this circuit?
Old 08-07-16, 09:31 PM
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The top two wires appear to be black and white and #14.
The bottom two appear to be 18-2 brown thermostat cables with white and red wires in them.

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