Understanding Construction Costs

How To Convert A Hardwired Light Into A Plugin

If you want to add a sconce or pendant light, but there is no pre-wired light box, consder converting a hardwired fixture into a plugin. Converting a hardwired wall light fixture to a plugin allows you freedom to move the lights, and it avoids the cost of rewiring. A novice should be able to tackle this job. Here are tips to convert a hardwired wall light fixture to a plugin..

Gather Tools

For this project, you need: 

  • work gloves
  • marker
  • needle-nose pliers
  • scissors
  • electrical tape
  • thin plastic
  • wire strippers
  • wire nuts
  • male plug
  • two C-clamps
  • insulated 16-gauge wire

Shut off power to the room you are working in from the breaker box. Determine if the fixture has a green or copper grounding wire. A grounding wire indicates you need a three-wire male plug, Otherwise, you may buy the standard two-wire cord.

Strip the Wires

Pull the wiring out from the back of the fixture using pliers, if needed. Cut tangles, then trim about one-half inch of insulation from the positive wires (red or black)and neutral wires (white) with the wire strippers.

Be aware positive wires can also be white. The positive wire should be marked. Hot wires often have a ridge.

Strip one-half insulation from the positive and neutral wires on the 16-gauge wire. The 16-gauge wire should be long enough to reach the outlet.

Connect the Wires

Slide the 16-gauge wire through the junction box on the fixture. Use the pliers to wrap the stripped ends of neutral wires on the fixture and 16-gauge wire together, then wrap the neutral wires and grounding wires together.

Add a wire nut to secure the connections, ensuring no loose wires extend passed the nut. Wrap electrical tape around the connections for extra security. Connect a male plug to the opposite end of the plug on the fixture, following directions.

Mount the Fixture

Thin plastic can be bought at most craft stores. Set the fixture on the plastic and trace the shape with the marker. Cut out the shape along the lines with sharp scissors.

Mark a "V" shape for the cord and cut it out. Apply some silicone sealant around the back edges of the fixture, inserting the cord through the "V. Mount the fixture; pressing the plastic into the silicone, and hold it in place with two C-clamps until the sealant dries.

Restore power, and test the installation. If the light doesn't work, or you don't trust your skills, contact an electrical service like Narducci Electric.