How to Install Ceiling Lights With a Red Wire and a Yellow Wire

Written by chris deziel Google
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How to Install Ceiling Lights With a Red Wire and a Yellow Wire
Ceiling lights need a hot and neutral wire. (interior lights image by Georgios Alexandris from

The standard colour coding for house wiring in North America is black for hot, white for neutral and green or bare for ground. Light fixtures manufactured for U.S. and Canadian generally have wires that follow this code, but occasionally you might find a fixture with different coloured wires. If the only two wires in your fixture are red and yellow, it's a safe bet that red is the hot wire, because this colour is interchangeably used with black to denote hot.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Utility knife
  • Wire splicer
  • Pliers
  • Wire caps
  • Drill
  • Ground screw
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Turn off the power to the light fixture by flipping off the switch or, if the light is not connected to a switch, by flipping off the breaker that controls the circuit.

  2. 2

    Pull the house circuit wire through the back of the electrical box in the ceiling and cut off 6 to 8 inches of sheathing with a utility knife, then separate the enclosed wires. Strip off 1/2 inch of insulation from the black and white wires with a wire stripper.

  3. 3

    Twist the end of the black wire together with the end of the red wire in the light with pliers. Twist the wires clockwise, and then screw on a wire cap. No bare wire should show outside the cap.

  4. 4

    Twist the white and yellow wires together and cap them in the same way.

  5. 5

    Ground the metal base of the fixture by drilling a hole in it and screwing in a grounding screw. Wrap the bare wire from the house circuit around the screw, then tighten it with a screwdriver. If the fixture has a third wire, either green or bare, twist it together with the ground wire instead.

  6. 6

    Attach the adaptor plate that came with the fixture to the electrical box with the set screws provided, then mount the fixture on the plate and attach it with the screws that came with the fixture.

  7. 7

    Turn on the power and test the light.

Tips and warnings

  • Some manufacturers make low-voltage light fixtures with red, black, yellow, purple and green wires. The yellow and purple wires are for dimming the light and are not used if the light is connected to a toggle switch. In these fixtures, the red wire is hot and connects to black, while the black wire is neutral and connects to white. The green wire is for ground.
  • Be sure the power is off before you wire the light. If you are not sure if the house circuit is live or not, test the wires with a voltage tester.

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