Step 4: Identify the Hot/neutral Wires

There are 2 wires which power a lamp.  the hot and the neutral.  there may be a third which is the ground but most lamps don't have it.

Before you wire up the touch switch your gonna want to identify the hot wire (black) and the neutrals wire(white).  Ground wires are green.  if your power chord goes directly to the socket then you can simply look at the socket to see which is which (see photo)
Technically with a 2 prong ungrounded lamp, you can wire it either way, but I prefer to be professional about it and make sure that the wiring is proper.  Once you know what your looking for, it's very easy and doesn't take any extra time.


Electrical code requires that the hot be identified.  If the wires are colored then the hot is the black and the white is the neutral.   Lamp power cords are usually single color paired wire (white, brown, etc).     Look at the wire carefully.  One side will have ribs on it and the other side will be smooth and will probably have markings on it.  The smooth side is the hot and the ribbed side is the neutral.   You can also look at the plug.  the hot is the smaller prong and the neutral is the wider prong.

 At the socket the hot wire connects to the bottom of the bulb and the neutral goes to the bulb screw.  The hot terminal is always the darker color screw (brass) and the neutral is the lighter color (silver).  this hold true with most electrical stuff like outlets, light switch's, etc. 

One trick that I do is that I will put a piece of blue painters tape on the hot wire.

Interesting, thanks for sharing!
<p>You put a lot of work into this write-up. Some good humor in there too. -Added to my favorites. :) </p>
I ordered one from China but it doesn't seem to work. I also tried a led lamp and that one starts blinking every second or so. So i guess the touch-thingy works. Is it too low powered? Does anyone have a suggestion?
<p>Thanks for these instructions! I would try this, but it's a new lamp that I want to convert to a touch lamp for my mother and there is no threaded tube up the middle. The wire goes up an external tube and it's not threaded, so I think to make this work, I'd have to drill a hole in the base and attach the wire to the base with a screw and I'd rather not do this to a new designer lamp... I did buy the plug-in converter and it doesn't work - it makes the lamp blink on and off. I bought another, assuming that the converter was defective and got the same result. And it happened with two different lamps! Any idea what might cause that to happen? Thanks!</p>
<p>Regarding the light socket, plugged in to the outlet/socket adapter, which was screwed into the socket - two things come to mind. Either a previous owner wanted the bulb to sit higher (and didn't have, want to buy, or know to buy, a long-neck bulb) or someone screwed in the outlet adapter and then later couldn't get it out, so then the person &quot;fixed it&quot; with a plug in socket. The latter is the most likely. </p>
<p>I would recommend not taking any advice from this post telling people you can wire the lamp any way changing the leads, you should have your license revoked with that advice thats a shock hazard and is not up to osha reg.</p>
<p>&quot;Technically with a 2 prong ungrounded lamp, you can wire it either way...&quot;</p><p>this is true, but if the lamp is wired backwards, you can get a shock replacing the bulb if you touch the socket.</p>
What do you mean &quot;don't play drums on it&quot;? I'm guessing the bulb goes out and shorts the switch? Could you put a fuse in somewhere to protect it?
I have a couple of vintage pole lamps one has two lights the other has three. Each swich controls each of the lights independently. Would this work with them?
I wonder if this will work with a bottle lamp? You would have to have a metal shade right?
If your lamp has a metal base with a metal rod that connects to the socket then this will work. you don't need a metal shade. you may be limited to only being able to touch the base to turn the lamp on/off.<br>If you check you local hardware store there are other touch switch options that plug into the wall and then the lamp plugs into it with no need to rewire the lamp.<br>I didn't think it would work with this lamp but it may with yours.<br><br>
I used your design. Very nice. I trained my dog to turn the light on and off. Now looking for a lamp for the other room.
Haha i rubbed my socks on the floor and shocked my moms touch lamp with my finger and i broke it! lol but now i have to pay :(
Wow. I had no idea that static electricity could fry the thing. This is my first time using a touch sensor. My house is all hardwood floors so hopefully no static :)<br>I would suggest one of the plug sensors but since your lamps switch is bad that probably won't work will it? Switch is $10 which isn't to bad. Just learn from my lesson and study the wiring before hooking it up so u don't fry the switch like I did :)
Oh how i wish we had Home Depot in this country. Sweden seems devoid of such kits. Not even the pro shops have them.
Can you order stuff from amazon? the first switch I got, I ordered online. <br>
Of course i can. I just didn't think of it. You wrote it out plain for all to see, but somehow i missed it. The first kit is already on its way. Thanks.
This is SUCH a little nit-pick... Honestly, I feel bad for even mentioning it... But it is 'cord' not 'chord'.<br><br>One is a length of small wire/string, and the other is a grouping of complimentary notes on a musical instrument.<br><br>Everything is else is totally awesome though!
Thank you! <br>I can't spell to save my life. I've become dependednt on spell checker. If I type a word that's an actual word then I'm screwed. <br>by day I'm an architect, I'm trying to think how many projects I wrote chord, rather than cord? dozens, at least <br>:)
Oh goodness... isn't &quot;Chord of Wood&quot; also a building supply unit of measurement?<br>
I have two made- in-China lamps that I like but I continually have problems with the switches. This sounds like an idea I need to try. The big thing that struck me though is the ongoing problems I have with switches on vacuum cleaners, appliances and tools. They just don't last anymore. Makes me wonder what kind of fire hazard todays electrical components are creating.
Awesome job. My grandparents had one of these types of lamps in their house, and I always loved it. Had I known making one was this simple I'd have done it long ago!
Thanks. <br>i recommend that if your lamp can handle it, that you use either the socket touch sensor or the plug in one. neither of those require any wiring at all. i didn't think those would work with this lamp which is why i went with the hard wired option which was also pretty easy once i figured out what i was doing <br>:)
very interesting ^)

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an architect by day. I love doing projects by night, both on my own and with my kids
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