How to Hardwire a Plugin Light Fixture

By September 12, 2010At Home

There are a lot of fun light fixtures out there at great prices.  My choice cost $10 total and you can see it at the end of this post.  The problem is that many of the affordable choices are plug in fixtures.  This is great unless you are looking to use an existing switch and replace a ceiling fixture you already have!    This is a very simple project that can save you money on your lighting and the $100 an electrician might charge to come and do it for you!

You Will Need:

Screwdriver to Remove Existing Fixture
Wire Stripper (simple Inexpensive Tool from any hardware store will have both a wire stripper and cutter)
Wire Nuts (2-3)
Utility Knife
Ladder
New Light Fixture

Instructions

1. Turn Off Power to the Fixture at your Electrical Box:  Flip the little switch to off for your room. Check the switch to make sure lights are off.

2.  Remove Existing Light Fixture:  Use your screwdriver to take the ceiling plate off and be very careful not to let the light fixture fall and rip the wiring.  Once the plate is off either rest the fixture on your ladder or have a friend help to hold it while you disconnect the wires.  Simply turn the wire nut / connectors that are there and pull the wires out. 

My Existing Nemesis...Ummm...Light

3.  Examine the Existing Wiring:  Usually you will see 3 wires coming from the box.  One white, one black and one copper.  The copper wire is the ground wire and should be capped and wrapped around a screw in the lightbox.  Usually a plug in fixture will not have a ground wire so you will not need this wire.

White, Black and Metal Ground Wire

4.  Cut the Plug Off Your New Fixture and Measure Your Desired Length from the Ceiling.  For a dining room you want to be 30-36″ above the table.  In hallways a fixture should be close to the ceiling and in other rooms your height will depend on whether or not you are working above a table.  If you are not, you want to make sure that no one will hit their heads.  I would stay around 7 feet.  When you cut your wire leave a little extra.  This can be tucked up into the box after but you do not want to be left with too little wire to work with.  You can always take more off if you need to later.

5.  Split the Wire and Separate the White and Black Wires Inside:  Using a utility knife carefully split open the casing around the wire and pull down to separate the casing from the wires inside.  Pull out the white and black wires.

Split Casing and Separate Inside Wires

 6.  Strip the white and black wires at the top to prepare for connection:  Using your wire strippers find the select gauge for your wires and strip the casing from the top inch or so of wire.  The correct holes are the ones that just barely grip the wires so that when you pull the strippers cut into the wire and literally pull the casing off.

Stripped Wire Tips

7.  Attach Wires:  Carefully thread the wires through the ceiling plate of your new light fixture and prepare to attach the wires.  Attach white to white and black to black by putting them together and inserting them into your wire nuts and turning the nut to essentially weave the two inside wires together.  Cap the ground wire if it is not already capped.

Attach White and Black Wires Using Wire Nuts (Orange in Photo)

9.  Make Sure the Light Works:  Turn on your power and check that it works!

We Have Light! The Plug is Now on a Switch!

 10.  Attach Ceiling Plate to Ceiling:  I used the same ceiling plate that was already there but whatever you chose to use lift the plate to the ceiling and do a quick measure to make sure the fixture is the height you want it.  Then using screws reattach the plate to the bar across your light box.  Depending on the type and weight of your new fixture you may need to change out the bar on the inside to make sure it supports your fixture.  In my case I was simply installing a hanging bulb so I have no weight issues.

11.  Finishing Touches: Add any bulbs or lampshades and enjoy your new lights!  I adore my new and very simple paper lantern – the Regolit from Ikea.  At only $5.00 I am in love with the style and price!  The light I used is the Ikea Hemma Cord Set for $3.99.  Um…that’s under $10.00!  So without further ado – here is my new hardwired simple dining room lantern.  The diffused light through these paper lanterns is gorgeous and so flattering and it’s on a dimmer so we can be as playful or romantic as we like!

Modern Simple Hardwired Lantern

12.  Enjoy!

This project actually took me longer to blog than to complete and I am so glad I learned how to do it myself!  I am now eyeing the fixtures in every room for simple fixes.  On a design note – if your budget permits I would mix really inexpensive finds like this with some swankier choices so your whole house does not look like it is from Ikea.  You can find some great fixtures at yard sales or even at big box stores that are meant for hard wiring and hang them yourselves.  There are tons of lighting options that come with a plug and for those this simple tutorial will have you switching them on and off in no time flat!

I would love to hear what you can two with a little time and inspiration!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and please – tell me what you think!  I will post my whole On The Cheap Dining Room Re-Do soon so stay tuned for more money saving tips and tricks!

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