Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Add an Electrical Plug to a Wall Mounted Light Fixture

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Today, I'm going to show you how to convert a wall mounted light fixture into one with an electric plug on it so that it can be plugged into the wall.  Last Saturday night at around ten p.m., as I was leaving the French Farm House to go "home" to my current house, I tripped over a box trying to make it from the dining room, through the breezeway mudroom to the studio garage.


You see, one of the more puzzling charming things about owning a 1950's ranch house is the "little mysteries" that seem to be abundant here. Like why there's a light switch in the dining room that controls the only light source in the mudroom.


Remember, this is Phase 1 of the French Farm House renovation. Our current goal is to make the house inhabitable. Major projects like new electric wiring...and plumbing...and a roof...are on hold until Phase 2.

I quickly ruled out floor and table lamps since the "mudroom" is a confined space. I didn't want to call an electrician to change the switches and add lights and it seemed that all of the cute ones that I found were exterior lights, meant to hang on a wall.


Of course, I know just enough about electrical to make me dangerous. Basic stuff, like changing outlets and converting light fixtures? Absolutely!  Bending conduit and running wires?...notsomuch.

On Sunday morning, bright and early, I headed to my local Home Improvement center to see what kind of trouble I could get into figure out a solution. I found two adorable wall mounted fixtures, meant for outdoor use, for under $20 each. I was headed over to electrical to find someone to cut me a length of wire and sell me a plug for the end of it when I noticed that conveniently located on a rack across the aisle from the very fixtures that I had just put into my cart, I found 8 foot cords with a plug already on the end of them.


For me, finding these things was like winning the lottery.  Okay...probably not quite that good but it did mean that converting both of the lamps would take a total of about 20 minutes (maybe less if I hadn't been so excited to show you how to do this). Yes, I'm kidding!  The other nice thing about these cords...they came with the ends of the wires already stripped! This meant that there was no need for this:



We'll discuss the use of wire strippers in a post on another day. Today, we're thankful...and moving on...because the movers come on Friday morning and there's still lots to do. So, let me show you how truly simple this is.  All you need is your fixture, the cord with the plug, some electrical tape, scissors and a screw driver.


First, remove the fixture from the box and locate the wires on the back.  Match the black wire to one of the wires from the plug cord. Twist the two together and secure them with a wire nut (Wire nuts are little plastic caps that screw on to the ends of the wires and should feel tight when you're done. If they don't you need a smaller size. I was lucky, my fixtures came with the correct size.) Do the same with the white wire.


Yes,  I know that I need a manicure.... It's on "the list".  After screwing the wire nuts onto the wires, wrap them with electric tape. I make a loop around the wires to hold them together then wrap some around the cap to make sure that it stays in place.


You'll also notice a copper wire on the back of the fixture.  This is the ground wire. It attaches to the bluish screw on the "X" piece that holds the fixture to the wall.  That's it for the wiring part. See?! I told you that it was easy!


Next, locate the spot on the wall where you'd like to hang the the light.  Mark the spots in the "X" shaped mounting bracket that came with the fixture onto the wall.  Drill holes, install little plastic anchors and attach the mounting bracket to the wall.

Finally, connect the ground wire to the bluish screw.  Screw the lamp to the bracket and plug it in!


Finally, stand back....just for a moment. Admire your work...


...and the adorable wall mounted exterior light fixture which now has a handy plug on the end....and will keep you from tripping over the ladder...or the sander that you left in the middle of the floor!  As you can see, the mud room is slowly taking shape!


Note the sander...and the ladder...and the half painted door....Holy smacks...I've still got a LOT of work to do!


Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Kimberly