Converting Lights From Hard-Wire to Plug-In.

In this post, I will show you how to take a light like this:


To this:


When I decided I wanted sconces to flank each side of the stove, I knew that I would have a problem finding the right lights that also plugged in.  I needed the lights so I could use the outlet above the range that is there for a re-circulating vent hood.  Having them plug-in would not only save me from adding more light boxes and running wires, but also from adding a switch somewhere above the counter top.

This was the solution to our problem.  For roughly six dollars, we could turn any hard-wire lights we liked into plug-in lights.


I did not have much money in the budget for the sconces, so this again, was going to limit  what I could get for the space.  The first set I brought home from Lowes, strangely did not work.  I wanted them to, but there was no denying that they didn’t.  The price was nice at $19.99 a piece.  $26.00 plus tax with the conversion kit.

Sadly, I took them back to Lowes and then stood in the light department, once again, staring at the few available sconces, for what Edmond probably thought was FOREVER.  As if  I somehow thought new lights would become available at any moment. Sigh.

I am really happy with the ones we finally decided on, but it almost didn’t happen.


Here is a nice profile shot so you can see the design.  They are meant to look like candlestick sconces. These (with less metal and no shade, mind you) were $24.99.  Also, I didn’t care for them looking like candlesticks.  I envisioned lights with shades.  I found some little shades in the next aisle  for $5.oo each.  We plopped them on the light in the display and was happier with the look , but now adding everything together, each light was going to cost around $36.00 each.  Over $72.00 with tax.  AARG!  I knew if I went to a local light store, I would be seeing that seventy dollar price , or worse, PER light.  So, very reluctantly, I agreed to get them.  Good thing I am happy with how they look, or I would be one sad cookie, without any lights.

To convert these is actually pretty quick and easy.  I think I had them both done within a half of an hour or so.

Here is what you will need:

DSCN1775Lights (duh), strippers(better than mine), a wrench, some electrical tape, wire nuts and light bar(comes with the lights) and the lamp kit.

First take your lamp kit and cut off the part that holds the bulb, with your clippers.


Now, pull apart the wires to make sure they are nice and separated, about 3 inches, would work.

DSCN1791 (2)

Now strip about  1 1/2 inches off both of  the wires from the lamp kit.  Then twist the frayed copper so it is nice and tight and looks closer to a solid piece of wire.

twisting wires after stripping


Look closely at the lamp kit wires that you just separated and stripped the ends from.  One will have a small ridge running the entire length of the wire.  THIS IS THE WHITE WIRE!  If you follow it all the way to the plug you should see that it goes to the FAT or BIGGER prong on the plug.

wire and plug

I hope you can see the ridge in the middle photo here.  It is not easy to notice if you don’t know to look for it.

Now, with the wires from your light and the lamp kit, twist the white wire to the one with the ridge from kit tightly together, and tightly twist the black wire with the other wire on the lamp kit.  Twist on the wire nuts.

**At this point you need to decide if you are using the ground wire in your application.  I did and would recommend you use it, but if you do not want to, undo the nuts and slide the copper wire off the stem.  Replace the nut.

wire nuts

From here, you are set.  The light will work.  I have a few extra steps I do.

I wrap each set of wires with electrical tape:


I then wrap the two sets of taped wires together and secure the whole thing to the inside of the base of the light:



In the bottom picture you can see off to the left, the copper grounding wire.  I felt more comfortable using the grounding wire in my application.  I am NOT an electrician but I do have a couple in the family, and learned that converting the light this way, we should not need the grounding wire.

But since we were using the metal light bar that came with the lights to hang them, we could use the green grounding screw to wrap the grounding wire around.  Exactly what you would do if you were hard wiring the light to the electrical box in the wall.


For our application, this bar was great!  We used it to screw to the front of the pillar.  This bar also helps align the light and keep it straight.  Simply screw the bottom part where you want it.  You would then screw the given decorative screws through the front of the light into the holes in the upper, movable bar.  (The one with the green grounding screw attached to it).

We drilled 1 inch holes above the light bar to weave the plug and wire up and through the pillar to the outlet.


We will get a face shot, just cuz he’s cute :)



All the shots of the little switch to turn them on and off were way out of focus, but each is right in front of the pillar just below where the light sits.  Very easy to reach.  I had an extra timer, however, and so we used an adapter to plug both light into the timer and set the hours we wanted them on.  I am going to switch the CFL bulbs we have in them now to the LED ones in the other sconces, since we don’t use those as often.  This will make me feel better having them on for all the hours we set for them.

DSCN1856I love the pillars with the lights added.  Just like I imagined.

Now to make those doors to hide those appliances :)

Have you been making your own lights lately?  All the cool accessories at Lowes and Home Depot sure do make it easy to turn anything into a light!


~ by Perfect Prospect on February 7, 2013.

15 Responses to “Converting Lights From Hard-Wire to Plug-In.”

  1. These are so pretty! I think I can do this with the tutorial you provided.

    • Great! I hope so. Sometimes I worry I left out some vital piece of information or the whole thing is hard to understand, like a complicated recipe that seems too much effort to actually try :)

  2. Thank you. I’m going to convert an outdoor pendant light into an indoor plug in light. Your instructions are very detailed. I so appreciate that.

  3. Lowe’s no longer carries this online and I didn’t see it in the store

  4. Hi, Thanks for posting this tutorial. I have a question about your grounding wire. In the tutorial you said you still used the grounding wire to the green screw of the mount. But how is the mount grounded? Thanks.

    • Hi Kevin, thanks for your question and sorry if my explanation was confusing regarding the ground wire. The green ground screw is attached to the bars that that go behind the sconce “face”. These are the brass bars that keep the light from rotating around and screw into the light box or in this case the wood panel. This grounding is to prevent current from going to the sconce which is possible because it is metal rather than, say, plastic. I hope this answers your question, if not, I can try again. :)

      • Thanks so much for your reply. I now understand how you wired it. Please forgive me if I’m out of line and you may want to check with your electrician family members, but my understanding is that the brass bars themselves are not grounded and thus your sconce is not grounded either. I’m pretty sure that you don’t really need the grounding wire as you stated in your article as many table lamps do not have grounding either. I’m doing a similar project for a new nursery and have struggled on what to do with that grounding wire. I think in the end I will just do as you have done. Thanks again for your great tutorial, it looks great.

      • Hi again, the fact that you are screwing the copper wire to the green screw in the bar IS grounding it, this means that if the hot wire ever became exposed in some way, mice, fell out of cap etc., and then touched the nearby metal, that metal would now carry the voltage. Like we said, chances are this is not needed, but the wire was there and we used the bars for mounting, so we went with it. Another way would be to buy a THREE prong extention cord, cut off at desired length, and attach ALL the wires from the sconce or light to the plug.

  5. Thank you this very helpful. I have been trying to build wall sconce lamps in metal shop class. I just realized on a trip to lowes, looking at hardwire sconces, that it would not be difficult to wire in lampwire and a plug. I got a test sconce for $6.98 and already had lamp wire and plug for about about 2.50 (10 ft of wire) and $2 for an attachable plug (the sconce has an on/off switch on it). I will try to wire this up tonight and will likely integrate the $6.98 fixture and wiring in the sconce base I have been fabricating in shop class. Even if I take most of the bought sconce apart, the little nipples, bolts and mounting hardware that hold the lighting fixture secure will be a great help. So far figuring out and getting those pieces together piecemeal has been time consuming and pricey, making the hardwire sconce + lampwire and plug a real deal for something that will hang correctly on the wall and comes with all the hardware I’d need to make it secure. A basic lamp wiring kit alone runs 10-14$ near me (NYC). Now I just got to get over the feeling that my efforts towards hand making sconces might have been a little silly in light of how cheaply this conversion can be done on plenty of pretty hardwired sconces!

  6. Also your lamps and kitchen look great!

  7. Hi Nicki,

    My craft buddy and I used this tutorial to mount hard wire fixtures to shutters so they became plug in. It was so impowering, I do have a question, the sconce I used was a single arm like yours. Now I have a two arm sconce with two sets of black and white wires in the back. How do I wire two sets to one wire with plug?

    • Hi Michelle, you would twist the ends of both the blacks and then the both the whites together, then twist and cap the black and whites of the plug wires to each group accordingly. Make sure your caps are large enough for three wires for each color, the orange ones should work great. I would make sure to use the tape method I showed to make sure everything stays connected.
      I am glad you found this post helpful :)

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