How to Rewire a Light Fixture to Use a Plug
As a few of you may know, I have a “thing” for giving makeovers to light fixtures. I find the coolest fixtures at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and since I’ve redone a few of them, it got me to thinking that maybe instead of keeping them as hardwired fixtures (where they are permanently wired to the existing electrical wiring in a house on the ceiling or a wall), I should rewire them so that they could be plugged in. That way, they are completely portable and can be located virtually anywhere in a house as long as the cord is long enough to reach the outlet! Follow along as I share how to rewire a light fixture to use a plug.
I buy my wiring in bulk, then attach a switch and a plug. This is economical for me because I redo so many fixtures but it may not be economical for you. One piece cords with plugs can be purchased at home improvement stores, and they come in 8′ or 12′ lengths. You’ll have to add a switch to the cord, also. Here are a few of the parts I used: 18-2 lamp wire (18 gauge, 2 wire) and a pull-chain light socket. A replacement plug specifically for lamps will also be used.
Start by removing the existing socket and wiring. Cut a new piece of wiring (I like mine to be at least 14 feet long) and run it through the rod on the fixture.Thread the cup (the lower piece that houses the socket) on the post in the fixture to hold the socket in place.
Thread the cord through the post and carefully separate the wires. One wire will be smooth on the side and the other wire will have ribs. On clear cords, they are hard to see but if you run your fingernail over them you can feel them. The ribbed wire is the “neutral” wire, and the smooth wire is the “hot” wire. Strip the casing off of the ends of the wires about 1/2″ using wire strippers.
The wire with the ribs on the casing will connect to the silver terminal on the socket. Before connecting the wires to the terminals, tie an underwriter’s knot which will keep the wiring from getting pulled back through the post. Make a “hook” on the end of the wire in a clockwise direction around the terminal then tighten the terminal screw. Repeat for the other wire on the gold terminal.
Replace the socket on the mount then replace the housing for the socket – these are either snapped into the cap or screwed into it.
Attach the plug to the end of the cord according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If a one piece cord with plug is being used, all of the same steps will be followed with the exception of adding the plug (duh!). With my simple tutorial on how to rewire a light fixture to use a plug, you will be able to rewire all kinds of really neat fixtures for portability or even outdoor use (with proper cover, of course!)
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