How to Identify Positive & Negative Wires for a Chandelier

An electric chandelier is electrically identical to several lights wired in parallel with each other. Unlike DC-powered lights, a standard electric chandelier does not have a positive wire and a negative wire; it instead has a hot wire and a neutral wire. The hot wire in an AC electrical circuit is the powered wire, whereas the neutral wire acts as a return path that is similar in nature to the negative wire in a conventional DC circuit.

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It is important to identify the hot and neutral wires on both the chandelier and the electrical box.

While the lights in a chandelier might work just as well if the electric leads are reversed, it is good electrical practice to match up the wire designations on the chandelier – hot wire to hot wire and neutral wire to neutral wire – so that if there are problems later on, these problems can be corrected quickly and safely. To connect these wires properly, you will need to know what to look for to distinguish a hot wire from a neutral wire.

Step 1

Turn off the breaker or remove the fuse that leads to the chandelier's electrical box.

Step 2

Remove the screws from the electrical box cover with a screwdriver. Remove the electrical box cover. Loosen and remove the screws holding the crossbar in place, and remove the crossbar from the electrical box.

Step 3

Pull the wires out of the electrical box gently and check their colors. The switched hot wire will be red, neutral wires will be white, and any "always-on" hot wires will be black. Grounding wires will either be green or lack insulation altogether.

Step 4

Check the wires on the chandelier. Many chandeliers are wired with a black hot wire and a white neutral wire. However, a chandelier with a lamp-style cord will have one of the following identifiers for the neutral wire: silver conductors, labeling on the insulation jacket, squared corners, or ribs and indentations on the insulation. The unmarked wire on the chandelier is the hot wire.