Most light circuits are the standard 120-volt, 15-amp circuits that can be in line with receptacles that you might find in a family room or dining room. However, some large overhead lights, like those use for hydroponics, require more juice, so they need to be 240 volts on a 20-amp circuit. Wiring a 240-volt light socket is very similar to wiring a smaller light socket, except it uses two hot wires instead of a hot and a neutral.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Wire strippers
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Black electrical tape
Turn off the power to the light circuit you want to work on by flipping the switch on the front of the circuit breaker. If you’re not sure which circuit it is, turn off the power to your whole house by flipping the main house breaker. Do not try to install the light socket with the power on.
Strip back the jacket of the 12-gauge cable used for the 20-amp circuit by about 6 inches using the wire strippers. Also using the wire strippers, remove the first half-inch or so of the sheaths on the wires themselves.
Locate the back panel of the light fixture with the three screws in it, one for each required wire. The panel normally has a cover on it, but the cover should be already off if you're installing the light new. Wrap the black wire around one of the brass screws on the light fixture. Tighten the screw with the screwdriver.
Wrap the white wire around the other brass screw on the fixture, and tighten that screw also.
Wrap the black electrical tape around the white wire, near the end. This is to let future electricians know that the white wire, which is normally neutral or “cold,” is “hot” in this case, as it has 120 volts coming through it just like the black wire does (for a total of 240 volts).
Wrap the bare copper ground wire around the green bolt near the other two bolts, and finally tighten that one also.
Turn the power back on to your home or the circuit you were working on and test the light fixture.
Tips and warnings
- Be absolutely sure the power is off to the circuit you’re working on, as a very small shock can stop your heart and kill you.
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