Converting hanging lights fixture to plug - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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Converting hanging lights fixture to plug

Converting hanging lights fixture to plug.

You're talking to a major newbie here (someone who should probably not mess around with this stuff! But I'm on a mission!). I have a very dark "cupboard" in my kitchen. It really needs a light in there. I would like to hang a light that I have - but it is the kind that is hard wired. I have a plug kit that would work and I would like to convert the light to be able to plug it into a socket.

My question is this - Is it as simple as connecting the wires? What about the green/ground wire from the light? The plug kit I have is a two prong. I wasn't able to find a 3 prong plug with the toggle/rocker switch attached.

Any advice?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 05:51 AM
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You need some wire, I call it cab tire. I think its a Canadian thing. Go to home depot or whatever you have down there and buy a piece of 2 wire insulated cord with grounding wire. You'll wire the ballast up, the ballast should have labels as to what wires are 120V positive and neutral. And yes you need to connect the green wire.

If your installing a standard light switch to turn it on, only the positive side is switched. The 120V neutral and ground are not.

Get a three prong plug, two prong plugs are not safe unless your using stuff with very very low current draw.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colinthebassist View Post
You need some wire, I call it cab tire. I think its a Canadian thing. Go to home depot or whatever you have down there and buy a piece of 2 wire insulated cord with grounding wire. You'll wire the ballast up, the ballast should have labels as to what wires are 120V positive and neutral. And yes you need to connect the green wire.

If your installing a standard light switch to turn it on, only the positive side is switched. The 120V neutral and ground are not.

Get a three prong plug, two prong plugs are not safe unless your using stuff with very very low current draw.
Thanks colinthebassist.

I used 2-pronged for my light fixture.

Will switch to 3-pronged light fixture now.

I just used wirenuts to connect the wires, that's no problem, right?

Thanks,
Dexter
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 07:58 PM
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A lot of time it's cheaper to just buy an extension cord than it is to buy a special cable and the plug. Just cut off the female end and strip the wires on that end. I can usually find 2 prong extension cords for about a dollar, a cord with a grounding prong will be more expensive but still under $10 for a short cord.

I'd make a simple plywood box to cover the base of the lamp it's not usually a good idea to have wire connections hanging out where someone could touch them. If it were my project I'd put a 75 cent light switch in the box so I could just reach up and flip on the light there, rather than fumbling around with the switch on the cord. It would be easy enough to put that same 75 cent light switch in line with the extension cord in some kind of enclosure as well. The key will be to cover any terminals, you don't want to touch a hot wire by mistake.

If you're not into following electrical code you will be just fine with a polarized two prong plug, the ground is really unnecessary for operation of the light and doesn't make the lamp any more safe under normal circumstances, the ground only protects you if there is a fault where the hot wire touces the metal housing of the lamp. A properly wired lamp should never have this problem, if for some reason you did get current flowing through the base of the lamp you could get a shock but it wouldn't be enough to kill most people, it would hurt a good amount though. It's your call, how confident are you that you can wire the lamp properly, how confident are you that there will never be any circumstances where the hot wire may come in contact with the metal on the lamp?

Just to confuse you even more, in older construction homes didn't have 3 prong receptacles, many homes (including the one I own) have 3 prong recepticals where the ground prong isn't grounded at the fuse box. Current code allows installation of a GFCI outlet to protect from shocking hazard instead of grounding. You could replace the outlet you want to plug your lamp into with a GFCI outlet and use a two prong cord safely.

The lamp does have a metal housing right? If it's not metal you don't need to ground it at all.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 10:34 PM
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Thanks kornphlake.

Just wondering though, is the building code same in Canada as in the States?

I like the idea of a light switch, instead of pulling the plug whenever I have to turn it off. Seems better than holding onto live wire.

The lamp fixture is encased in a metal housing, so I guess I think it will be better to ground it via 3 prong plug?

Right now all my lights are connected to one electrical timer, in total they use about 220 watts. And also, to connect the wires to the electrical cord, I just used wirenuts. The connection points are tucked inside the housing, only the electrical cord is exposed. I have suspended the entire fixture via metal wires tied to a wooden ceiling beam. Should this be a problem?

Thanks very much for help.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 10:50 PM
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I'm not sure if building codes are the same, they should be very simlar. A grounded plug should meet building codes anywhere, it's the safest connection, using a GFCI instead may or may not meet code. I'm not a certified electrician, if you have real doubt I'd get some additional advice.

Wirenuts should be okay for connections, although I believe they are only supposed to be used on solid core wires, I can't say they are approved for use on stranded wire. I'm not a certified electrician so you might need a second opinion there too. In my house I've got wire nuts on solid core wire to solid core wire connections all over the house, I know they are safe. Stranded wires to solid wires seems to work okay but you have to be careful not to fray the stranded cable when you screw on the wire nut. I never feel very confident in stranded cable to stranded cable connectiosn.

Hanging the fixture by wires is okay, a chain would probably be better. If there isn't any risk of bumping the lamp, snagging it with something or having something fall against it the wire will probably do. I've got a shop light in my garage someone hung with a piece of rope, one of these days I'll get up there and attach it with some better hardware in a little better location, but until then I'm not worried.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2008, 11:02 PM
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Alright thanks a lot, once again!
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