hard wiring a light to an outlet #1: 1. Research for an electrical project I'd like to attempt - is it possible?

Blog entry by Becky posted 11-17-2013 01:47 AM 6035 reads 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of hard wiring a light to an outlet series no next part

Got a bit of flak for posting over in LJ so I thought my better bet may be here :) I wanted to document this process in case well – in case I ever need to refer back to it or maybe someone has the same dilemma’s I do about this process?

My workshop is in half of my two car garage and I want to install a four bulb florescent fixture to get as much light as possible since with winter I will be working with the garage door closed :) I was able to pick up a commercial/residential 2ft x 4ft fixture at Lowes today, but it is hardwired, not plug-in. Electricity isn’t my strong suite, but I’m willing to give it a go. I’d like to not burn things down – or at least be able to get insurance to pay for replacement. :D

The garage is wired to one 15 amp circuit (sucks but it’s what I have until we can add a sub panel), and on that circuit – that I know of/can track down – is one exterior outlet, three light switches and one outlet on the right side of the garage near the door. One of the switches runs the garage door opener, one switch runs the set of two outlets across the room (in a box of four) and the two ceiling outlets, and the other switch I’m not sure what it runs, but when we got the house it was covered with duct tape which has since worn off/fell off/was pulled off.

I currently have a two bulb florescent plugged into the ceiling outlet that is over the shop side of the garage, which is where I would like to install the hardwired light – or at least have the option to hardwire the light to the outlet, and possibly move the light that is plugged in somewhere else. The good thing is if it is wired to this outlet, I know one of the switches will turn it off, along with any of the tools I have plugged in on that side of the garage. Time to go grab some books and internet resources to see if I can figure out how this can be done once I see what all is loaded into the overhead outlet.

-- aspiring jill of all trades

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Dan Lyke

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posted 11-18-2013 03:01 PM

So I strongly believe every homeowner should have two books: Code Check: Complete from Taunton Press, and Wiring a House by Rex Cauldwell. Those will help a lot, and helped me have zero problems on my electrical inspections on my shop, which included the feed to the sub-panel and all the interior wiring, and because of the sound insulation the shop is a “habitable structure”, so they treated it like it was a house.

Code says, and there are very practical reasons for this, that lighting circuits are lighting circuits and shall not be mixed with outlets. The reason you care? The first time your big router bogs down, blows the breaker, and you’re wandering around in the dark wondering where you left that big piece of … ow, damn it!

(Ask me how I know…)

The other bits of code are generally about two things:

  1. Junctions go in boxes. Always. Period. No matter how many soldered electrical tape wrapped junctions you may have seen on old knob and tube setups.
  2. Protect your wiring. If it isn’t hidden, run THHN in conduit on the surface. If it’s Romex behind the walls and you have to go across an attic, put it on the side of the joists where you’re running parallel to them, or on the side of a board you put in for that purpose where it’s running perpendicular to them.

Oh, and you’d be amazed at how much torque the breakers spec for those screw connections…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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Craftsman on the Lake

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posted 12-14-2013 05:04 AM

And.. to add to this.

Although it may not come up in your wiring. Never add a larger wire onto a smaller one. i.e. If you’ve got smaller 14 gauge wire coming from the breaker box don’t use larger 12 gauge wire to extend it. You can add 14 to 12 but not the other way around. The larger wire will carry the current but the smaller wire will act like a fuse if it’s in between. It will get hot and start a fire before it blows though!

-- Tryin'

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posted 01-07-2014 01:14 AM

Probably late, but I would think putting a cord cap on your new fixture would be your easiest option, especially since you are OK with your previous set up. Where does the NEC say you can’t mix lighting and receptacle loads?..oh yeah it doesn’t…anywhere…in fact it specifically allows it. Better to learn to use the code book than a DIY help guide and then falsely claim to know code.

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Dan Lyke

342 posts in 3213 days

posted 01-25-2014 12:55 AM

KS_Sparky: Whether or not your local inspector will interpret code to let you mix utility and lighting, it’s a really stupid idea.

Trust me on this. I’ve fumbled my way out of the dark to try to fix a problem.

And if your licensed electrician suggests such a thing, fire that person. Immediately.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

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