Wiring and polarizing a small table lamp


Old 06-29-18, 03:55 PM
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Unhappy Wiring and polarizing a small table lamp

I've been reading a lot of other threads hoping to find an answer to my exact question but didn't find one. So here goes:

I had two bedside table lamps in my guest room and the shades rotted. I went out and bought two new shades. The shades didn't fit the harps, so new harps, too. When I went to attach the new harps, the lamps fell apart.

Okay, new lamps. I just grabbed some small cheap lamps at Walmart. These lamps didn't have harps, but I had two new ones.

However, to attach the harp bracket to the main shaft of the lamp, I had to detach the socket. I intended to take the wires off, slide the socket off the shaft, put the bracket on the shaft and reattach the wires. However, the wires were soldered in and had to be cut to get the socket off. Okay, new sockets.

As I was studying the soldered wires, I realized the old socket had a label showing where to put the white wire. There was no white wire coming from the lamp. They were both black. The new sockets have a gold screw and a silver screw.

I've wired plenty of lamps in my time and I didn't see that it made a difference, so I just attached the wires at random. Put the thing together, with harp mounting bracket, screwed in a bulb.

When I went to plug it in there was a freaky looking piece of paper attached to a polarized plug. It went on about having the correct wiring.

I plugged it in and it works, but is it going to set my house on fire? How can I tell which wire goes to which terminal? I can trace the wire from the large side of the plug but then it goes into the body of the lamp, and I lose it. Nor can I pull the entire wire out.
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Old 06-29-18, 04:11 PM
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You won't start your house on fire. For light is doesn't matter. But for your information, the silver screw is considered the white or neutral wire and the gold is considered the black or hot wire.

The wide prong on the plug links the threaded base of light bulbs to the neutral terminal (the wider slot) in the receptacle. If the wires are reversed, the hot side of the outlet (the side that can deliver a shock) is wired to the threaded socket.

I lifted this from another source but it describes you situation perfectly

"A standard desk lamp is another example. With the switch off, the user can remove the bulb, and touch either of the contacts (or both) in the socket, without shock risk, assuming a properly polarized plug. If the user changes the bulb with the switch on by mistake, touching the more accessible screw contact of the bulb socket will not risk a shock. A shock could result from touching the small recessed contact inside the socket, but that is less likely to happen by accident. "
Old 06-29-18, 04:41 PM
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Thank you so much! I cannot believe how much mental trauma this stupid little project has cost me.
Old 06-29-18, 04:49 PM
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You can check which wire goes where by using an electrical meter set to ohms/continuity. Take one prob and connect to the larger blade on the plug and the other probe to the outside screw shell of the socket. You should read close to zero Ohms or get continuity.
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