Replacing Light Fixture on SPDT? Need Wiring Help!


The light in my kitchen is controlled by 2 different switches. One at either end of my kitchen. My research tells me it is a 3-way or single pole double throw (SPDT) circuit. Someone removed the original light and just left the open box so I cannot see how it was connected before.

Image 1: I have 2 black, 2 white and a ground coming out of the ceiling box

Image 2: The light fixture has a black wire, a white wire and a ground wire

I was thinking I would connect the 2 black wires from the box to the black wire on the fixture, connect the 2 white wires from the box to the white wire in the fixture and connect the ground wire from the box to the ground wire on the fixture.

What is giving me pause is that the electrician who took my original light connected one of the black wires to the white wire when he left. Should I leave that connected and only connect the remaining black and white wires to the fixture?


q replacing light fixture on spdt need wiring help

The black and white wires at the top are connected with a yellow connector. Should I leave this connection or separate them and match black to black and white to white?

q replacing light fixture on spdt need wiring help

Light fixture has black, white and ground wires. (ignore wires on right)

  8 answers
  • Deb K Deb K on Apr 04, 2020

    Hi Teresa, I am not an electrician, but I have worked with one like this as I changed the hall fixture but, I had the old to look at, I have sourced a few links for you to check out, You do want to ensure you flip the breaker before attempting anything, and if it is wrong, you will just pop the breaker when you flip is back on. You have 1 fixture and 2 switches right? I am thinking two way.... be careful and good luck

  • William William on Apr 04, 2020

    Leave the wires connected together the electrician left. That is called a traveller. It connects both switches to each other. Technically it should have been red. Wire the light to the remaning wires

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Apr 04, 2020

    Just wondering, could you call the electrician who did the work and ask him to just be sure? I know very little about electricity but since he took your old light maybe he will remember what he did and can guide you through this

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Apr 04, 2020

    My son-in-law, who is very handy spent a great deal of time trying to wire a new light with this type of setup. He got it to light up, but the switch didn't shut it off. He finally paid an electrician to fix it. He had to pay for an hour, but, it literally took her a few minutes to wire it correctly. She then explained to him how it was setup and why he had so much frustration trying to get it to work correctly. Works great, now and he feels if he ever changes it again, he knows how. Worth every penny.

  • Jeremy Hoffpauir Jeremy Hoffpauir on Apr 05, 2020

    I would definitely call an electrician even if you feel comfortable doing it.

    Hope this Helps! Jeremy -

  • I too would definitely call an electrician here if you’re even remotely unsure of what to do. Bad wiring can burn your house down, so better safe than sorry.

  • Neil Doughty Neil Doughty on Apr 05, 2020

    if the electrician left it like this, leave the white and black wires that are connected together alone .take the single black wire and connect it to the black wire on the light. take the single white wire and connect it to the white wire on the light. if the light has a green wire or a green screw, connect the bare wire to that. MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE TURNED THE ELECTRICITY TO THIS LIGHT OFF BEFORE YOU START!

    • See 1 previous
    • William William on Apr 05, 2020

      I agree with with the 220 volt comment. Red wires are also used when wiring 2 way and 3 way switches. The red wire is a traveler connecting both switches.

  • Teresa D Teresa D on Apr 07, 2020

    Thanks Everyone! I followed William's suggestion and it works! Easy Peasy! The hardest part was getting those small screws back into the canopy. Took forever! Thanks again!