Tutorial–Turning a Hard Wired Light into a Swag Light

My first tutorial!

This tutorial is about the new silver chandeliers that I gave you a sneak peek of in Thursday’s post.

If you are like me and purchased a chandelier (or other light) that is supposed to be hard wired into the ceiling, but you don’t have a ceiling outlet box, there is a solution.

skateboard-chandelier

This whimsical skateboard fixture shows the ceiling mount and how a hard wired light would look.

However, as long as you have an electrical outlet on the wall nearby and can plug things in, you can turn your meant to be hard wired light into a swag fixture.

I purchased two of these chandeliers.  They are meant to be hard wired.

silverlight3.

However, as mentioned, I did not have a ceiling outlet box over our night stands, which is where these two puppies found their home.

Here are the steps I took to turn them into swag lights that are able to just be plugged in.

Material needed:
Light fixture
Swag kit
Shrink tubing
Wire nuts
Blow dryer or heat gun

1.  If your light fixture is new, open the packaging.  Unwrap everything.

2.  Buy a swag kit at a store like Lowes.   The swag kit is usually located near the ceiling fans and includes a chain, wires, and switch.

3.  See diagram to get a feel for the anatomy of your supposed-to-be hard wired light.

Your light fixture should look something like this at the top.  It has a ceiling canopy, retaining collar, and a fixture mounting bar, all with chain and wires coming out and down to the actual fixture.

IMG_4653 (480x640)

4.  Unscrew the canopy and mounting bar.  Pull them off of the wires.

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Then, un-hook the retaining collar from the chain and remove it from the chain and wires.  It should look like this.

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Feed the three wires through the last chain link like this:

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5.  Open the swag kit.

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Only remove the wiring.  It will have a plug on one end and two wires on the other.  Like this:

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6.  You will notice that the light fixture has three wires.  Two that are coated and one that is not.

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The one that is not is the ground wire.  You will ignore it during most of this process.

The swag kit wires includes only two wires, both of which are coated (see above).  The two coated wires on the light fixture will match up with the two on the swag kit wire.

7.  Slide the shrink tubing onto the swag wiring, over the two coated wires.

IMG_4671 (480x640)

7. Add more chain from the swag kit if needed at this time.  Attach the swag kit chain to the light chain and the swag wires.  I did not need this for my light.  There was enoug chain on the fixture itself.

8.  Put the swag wiring and lighting wiring side by side.  Match the two wires from each strand together.   If you have wires with colors on them (red, white, black, blue, or green), match those colors up.  Red goes to red, etc.  Mine do not have colors as I’m just closing a circuit.

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9.  Twist them just a little like this:

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10.  Time to use your wire nuts.

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Screw it onto the end of the wires.   Cover the wires.

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11.  Make each wire nut face opposite directions so that the shrink tubing can fit over them.

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12.  Wrap them with electrical tape.

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13.  Slide the shrink tubing over the electrical tape.

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14.  Time to shrink it!  Use a heat gun if you have one.  Or, if you are like me and do not have one, use a hair dryer.

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15.  Pull the ground wire over the tubing and use electrical tape to secure it to the tubing.  This will hold it in place.

16.  Once the shrink tubing has shrunk to half the size, you are ready to hang the light!!

Attach hooks to the ceiling and hang the chain on the hooks.

Note: You will have left over pieces from the light fixture and from the swag kit.

17.  Here it is hung and plugged in.  Attach a switch to it if you would like to turn it on and off that way.

IMG_4684 (509x640)

Congrats!  You just converted a hard wired light into a swag light!

P.S.  I’m not an electrician.  Please do this at your own risk.  :) And, I did learn to take such photos on a contrasting background.  I apologize if any are difficult to decipher.

25 Comments :

  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I can't believe you did this yourself, very impressive. I am so nervous about working with electrical. Your new swag light is beautiful. What does the rest of the space look like?

  2. Thanks for this tutorial, it’s exactly what I needed! I just bought a house and my bedroom has no ceiling light fixture. I plan to buy a ceiling light and use this tutorial to plug it into a wall outlet. I bought wall mountable remote control switches to turn it off and on, so it will behave just as if I had a regular ceiling light with a switch by the door. Thanks!

    • Oh yay! So glad it helped. I posted that when I was still very new to blogging so the images are terrible. But, at least it all made sense to you! It definitely worked for us!

  3. Just want to say thanks for this wonderful visual diagram for wirening. I had almost same idea by using an electical tape but yours looks much sleaker. The light will be for my new baby boys reading mommy nook :)

  4. Oh so COOL!! I want to know where you bought the lights, they are gorgeous. I am redoing my kitchen in white and silver and this would go soooooo well.

  5. What do you do with the ground wire?

  6. Never mind. Just read right over that part. Thanks. I am getting so excited to hang this in my laundry room.

  7. Does the ground wire ever get connected to the swag kit wiring? Or does it just end? I can’t seem to figure it out! :)

  8. Hi,

    How did you support the weight of the chandelier? Did you still go into the ceiling or were the hooks from the swag kit strong enough to hold it?

    Thanks,

    Stacey

  9. MoniqueEclectic

    This is an especially helpful technique for sconces. Many hard wired sconces can be easily convertied to a plug in arrangement (GREAT for Renters). And depending on your design objective, you can encase the wire in a conduit (decorative or to blend in) or chose wire that matches the finish of the fixture (silver , gold).

    When wiring for a sconce, I like to put a “holder” a small plastic fitting at the baseboard to hold the down wire straight and vertical. (think of the hardware used to encase cable wires, as example.)

    Depending on whether the outlet you plug them into is switched or not, you can also install an in-line switch. Just make sure the position of the in-line switch is low enough to be concealed behind the furniture but still easily accessible for on/off switching.

    PS…and don’t forget the chain covers if that is your style.

    Cheers,
    M

  10. Thank you for the information and inspiration. I bought a chandelier that was advertised as a plug in but wasn’t when it arrived. Following your instructions I was able to wire it as a swag. The only information I would add is how to identify which wire on the swag matches to which wire on the chandelier. I found on another site that the wire that has a ridge that runs the length of the cable is the white wire on the lamp. Thank you so much for posting your instructions.

  11. what am I to do with the ground wire where does it go do I just leave it im lost

  12. what so I do with the ground wire ?

  13. do you have any suggestions on covering the cord itself to plug into the wall? my living room has no overhead lighting so i wanted to hang on in the center but io dont want the cord that actually plugs into the wall just drapped all over the place. lol is there anything that i can do? maybe threading the wire in the ceiling???

    • Hmm, maybe you could mount it like an actual in ceiling light where you put in a brace (usually between studs) and hang it… though you may have to get creative with just how that is done… and then cap it with a ceiling medallion… and run the cord over to the wall that the outlet is on and have it come out of the wall by the outlet. Though I am not sure how to do that neatly… Hmmm… But, that may not be ideal… So, otherwise, you could buy a cord that matches the ceiling color and run it back to the wall and then follow corners where the wall and ceiling attach to get it near the outlet… Maybe someone will come along with better suggestions, though.

      • how do i connect the 2 pieces of chain? that was the only thing not shown in a picture.

        • Umm, I didn’t have to do that I don’t think, but I’d guess maybe use some needle nose pliers to pull it apart and push it back together after it has been connected.

  14. How exactly would one attach a switch??

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