You don’t need to know how to require a light fixture to convert a hardwire light fixture to plug-in- it’s a simple DIY anyone can do in minutes. In this article, I show step by step how to add a plug to a hardwired light fixture so it can be used anywhere an outlet is handy!
I love chandeliers, but I used to think they were limited placement within reach of ceiling wiring- but when a friend asked for help hosting an evening bridal shower under the sprawling branches of Hawk Hill’s ancient live oak, I started exploring how to make chandeliers a part of the outdoor lighting at my friend’s special event.
Many questions to the knowledgeable staff at my local hardware store led me to find out that it’s actually just a 5-minute job to convert a light fixture from needing to be hardwired to an electrical box to simply plugging into any outlet. The best part? It just takes one cheap part to make this switch! Once the plug is added, a chandelier can go anywhere an extension cord can.
Here’s an illustrated tutorial on how to add a plug to a hardwired light fixture.
Supplies Needed for Converting Hardwired Fixture to Plug-In Swag Style:
I’ve not been able to find this item at a Big Box Home Improvement store like Lowes or Home Depot, but Ace Hardwares usually have them in stock. Ace’s part number for the 3 prong replacement plug is SA540BKCC10
- Screwdriver (If you found the plug I sourced, you can use either a flat or phillips screwdriver)
- Wire Strippers (optional! The wires on your light fixture will probably already be stripped. If you don’t have wire strippers, you may be able to strip wires *carefully* with a pair of scissors)
CAUTION: Electricity can be extremely dangerous! If at any point these instructions seem unclear or don’t adequately address the particularities of your light fixture, stop and consult an electrician or licensed electrical contractor.
Choose and Prep your Light Fixture
First, choose your light fixture. Thrift store chandeliers paired with a new coat of spray paint are my favorite lights to convert to lamps. They make ideal temporary lighting to use as decoration for parties, photoshoots, girl’s nights, etc. In this photo, a $15 ugly brass chandelier turned pink party accessory is ready to convert from standard wiring to a plug-in fixture for use as outdoor lighting at an outdoor evening bridal shower party.
Locate, Separate, and Strip Wires
Since the wires shown in this image were a bit frayed, I chose to make the next steps easier by cutting and stripping the coating from a new section before continuing
Acquire New Plug
Prepare & Open Replacement Plug
Remove Prongs & Loosen Screws
You’ll notice each prong has a tiny screw that was hidden by the yellow core. This screw will secure the chandelier’s wires to the prongs in order to conduct the electrical current.
Loosen but do not remove these screws.
Thread Plug onto Light Fixture’s Cord
(In my several dozen times repeating this process on thrifted chandeliers that I flipped in my flea market booth, I’ve managed to forget this step more than a few times and had to repeat it, so don’t get overly enthusiastic and jump past threading the plug on, straight to connecting wires)
Attach each wire to 1 Prong
Repeat the previous step with the other prong and the unused wire. Make sure your wire is NOT stripped past the end of the prong (see image).
Reassemble Plug with New Wires
Next (and this part can be just a bit tricky) push the prongs back into the plug housing with the head of the screws facing outward.
Seat the prongs snugly into each side as shown.
It may help to use a pair of pliers to grip the prong and push it snugly into place.
Replace center portion of plug
If the middle portion won’t insert fully, remove it and recheck that the prongs, screws, and wires are settled fully into the sides.
It’s that easy to turn a hardwired light fixture into a lamp that can be used in any (dry and safe) spot that an extension cord can reach! You can even use a Wireless Wall Switch to turn the plugged-in lamp on and off from a doorway or nightstand. (In fact, this is how I light my living room- see my article on how I added a chandelier with a wall switch to my Seattle apartment!)
CAUTION Electricity is very dangerous! If at any point these instructions seem unclear or don’t adequately address the particularities of your light fixture, stop and consult an electrician or licensed contractor.
If you’ve struggled with lighting in an older home with no wiring for an electrical box in the ceiling of living rooms, be sure and check out my article on how I used this method to hang a chandelier from the ceiling of my living room- creating bright, beautiful overhead lighting even in an older home with no wiring except floor level electrical outlets.
Sunday 21st of November 2021
How do you handle extension cords? We want to hang a pendant light over the corner of our sectional couch and plan to convert it with your method, but the cord is not going to be long enough to reach the outlet. I’m worried it will look awkward and bulky if the given cord is connected to an extension cord and is running down the wall behind the couch. Am I overthinking it? It’s mostly the look of the plugs connected together that I think will bother me.
Thursday 11th of March 2021
I already have a swag kit I just don’t know how to get the wires from the hanging fixture out of the fixture that you screw the bulb into so I can put the other wires in from the swag
Friday 25th of December 2020
anyone know of changing chandelier with electrical cord that has a switch...not a wall switch?
Friday 8th of January 2021
Hi Kathleen, you can install a switch on (almost) any cord using an inline switch installation kit.
Sunday 15th of November 2020
This helped me so much for project. Thanks a million !
Thursday 11th of May 2017
Thank you SO MUCH for your very clear instructions and illustrations. I was just replacing the plug on the coffeemaker, but had no instructions for the plug. So glad I found you!