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How To Identify Electric Cord Wires


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

The Key To Identifying Flat Cord Wires – The flat cord has two distinct indications that are fairly easy to identify which will reveal how each wire of the cord is connected.


Which Wire Is Which – Here Is The Key

Electrical Question: I am replacing lights under the shelf on my desk with fluorescent fixtures which are wired in parallel, as I have learned how to do here.

  •  I want to use the electrical cord that I cut off from the old light to power the new fixtures, since it is already attached to the desk and shelf.
  • How can I determine which wire in the cord to attach to the white wire in the fixtures?
  • And which to attach to the black?

Background: Johnny, a Homeowner from Hilton Head Island, SC
Additional Comments: I love this site. It is an excellent resource for me.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Johnny.

The Key To Identifying Cord Wires

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, comprehension, and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.

Electrical Cords have Two Distinct Indicators

  • The flat cord has two distinct indications that are fairly easy to identify which will reveal how each wire of the cord is connected.
    • The side of the cord that has Lines on one side identify that side as the neutral.
    • The side of the cord that has a Smooth surface identifies that side as the hot.

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« Lightning Strikes and Electrical System Protection Replacing a Light Fixture With a Ceiling Fan »


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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.

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