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Adapting Household Fixtures to Edison Receptacles

Sam Holling

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Hello all, electrical question here. Wondering what the best practices are for using household lighting fixtures (such as pendant lights, chandeliers that do not have a female edison/u ground and only bare hot, neutral and ground wires)?

Specifically, I'd like to know how to wire them to adapt to Edison plugs, to be used with squeezers/dimmers etc. I’ve seen some fixtures with a second ground fixed to the metal housing separate from the insulated ground wire originating from the lamp base.

Would love to hear your thoughts!


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Yer in a pickle here.

In between a practical and  fixture rules.

Technically the cord would need to be hard or extra hard usage as it is now more of a lighting fixture,  but even 18/3 SJO cord might not fit through the lamp's metal tubing.

How are you going to mount this on set/location?

There are Quick On or Snap on lamp cord connectors you can put on the end of the existing cord so that you'll have a 2 prong edison plug that can plug in to a dimmer.


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This is easy to do. I've done several hanging fixtures this way and hung from the grid or menace arm. You can get an Edison plug from home despot. After that, it's just knowing the wiring.

The image below shows where HOT, GROUND, NEUTRAL are on the outlet. The best way to remember is to know that HOT is always the SMALLEST blade. Modern outlets will always represent this. Some plugs, however (like the gray one on the left), don't represent this, so always refer to the outlet to find where it corelates to the plug.


For AC, the wire colors go:

  • Black is Hot (power)
  • White is Neutral
  • Green is Ground

Make sure that these fixture wires land in the correct spot on the outlet and you're good.

A note about incandescent bulbs and why your fixture doesn't ground to the bulb:
Incandescent/halogen lights, heaters, water heaters and those coil cooktops operate by the same method: stick the Hot and Neutral together to make heat! It is this reason why some plugs meant for incandescence have two equally-sized prongs; because they both lead to the same place. Notice the ground wire isn't necessary for this action. We ground the housing to provide the electricity some place to travel if under short circuit (as opposed to through you), and it's included in especially anything with a metal exterior. So the ground will prevent the housing from shocking you if there is a short, that's all.

If there is only a screw socket for a bulb and no housing, typically there is no ground, because there is nothing to ground to that could shock you.


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Be sure to make the fixture hangable.

Hanging bare bulbs and small lampshades work fine on the power cord itself. But really, anything with weight should have a load-bearing cable or chain. Fixtures will include it if it needs it, but creating "hanging practicals" like this where they're used in ways unintended, sometimes you need to prevent added strain on the cord. In this case, you're fine.

Happy shooting my friend!

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