Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cut it Out! How to Hardwire a Plug-In Fixture

I'd like to start out by saying my husband did not want me to share this post because he said this could be dangerous.  Well I think that most of us DIY'ers live for danger...lol!

I found this awesome fixture at Target a few weeks ago for just $22 and scooped it up immediately.  But to my surprise it was a plug-in fixture.  Why did I think it was hardwired?  I was going to return it and then I had a thought.  This is what we do, we DIY any and every thing so why is this one any different?

We put on our electrical hats and went to work.  Mind you I work for a construction firm and I have plenty of guys that could take care of this for us, but heck we could do this! And we DID!

We had an existing fixture that had good bones, but the cage is what I really wanted and I couldn't remove it from the plug-in fixture so that's the reason for the conversion.

The parts from the original fixture were chrome, so I found some Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint that matched the fixture and went to work.

I used a wooden dowel to hold the rod upright for paint.

After all of the paint was complete we were ready for the hard part.

** Safety first!**

Turn the circuit breaker off to the light switch in question before attempting any electrical work.

Cut the cord!  Nothing is better than cutting through a brand new light fixture.  There's no turning back after that!

The cord is usually made up of two wires joined together, so simply pull the two pieces apart at the top.  Use a wire stripper to strip the insulating coating to reveal about 1/2″ to 1″ of copper wire on the inside.

After removing the existing light fixture, it was time to wire up the plug-in fixture.  The ribbed lamp wire combines with the white house wire with the two copper sections touching.  Using a wire nut, screw the nut onto the end completely covering the copper portions of the wire.  Repeat the same steps with the green ground wire to the bare brass/copper-colored wire as well as the smooth lamp wire with the black house wire.
Before we put everything back together we inserted a light bulb and tested it to see if our electrical work was a success...it worked.  We have light!!

This was super simple.  I will no longer pass up an awesome plug-in fixture when I see one.  They also tend to be cheaper and that's always a plus!


  1. Call me clueless, but I am unclear why it's called a "plug in" if you have to wire it?

    1. The fixture originally was a plug-in fixture that's powered by an outlet and we cut the plug-in part off and used the existing wires to hardwire it. I hopes this clears it up. I should have posted a picture of that part.

  2. I LOVE how this turned out! So perfect.

    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm in love....now if I could just get around to my cabinet makeover I'd really be happy!

    2. When you cut the plug-in part off, were there only 2 wires as shown the picture? The picture shows 'smooth' and 'ribbed' wires from the fixture, but what about the ground wire? Is there a ground wire from the fixture (not shown) that attaches to the ground wire coming from the ceiling?

    3. When you have a 14/2 wire you only have the black and white hookup same goes for small light fixtures no ground that hooks to the light but connected to a screw in the ceiling. Just did this myself and its fine as long there is a ground connected somewhere. Also before doin this make sure your device is pulling 120 volts because some plugs have a small converter box that either pulls less or more than what the outlet is pushing. All plugs for this size is pulling 120 volts but it make take less to operate said light.

  3. This setup will turn on and off and generally work OK. But you have wired this without a ground: it is safe only until something goes wrong with the fixture or your electrical system. Be careful touching it.

  4. This is against all NEC codes in the U.S. unless you re-wire the entire fixture with the proper guage wire, not just cutting the plug off.

  5. Anonymous is right, this is a big code violation and possibly unsafe. If that fixture, or anything in series with it on the same circuit, were to start a fire or cause other problems, your insurance would likely refuse to pay if they discovered this. Also, anything near a sink or other water source should be at least grounded, and within a certain distance, you should use GFCI protection as well. The light is probably not too much of a hazard, but where is the switch?

    Now that I have rained on your parade, I want to say it DOES look really good, and the work that went into this is really cool!

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