How to add a plugin cord to a fluorescent light fixture

Written by robert ferguson
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Adding a plug to a fluorescent light strip fixture is an inexpensive and easy do-it-yourself project. It adds versatility to the fixture as it is easy to relocate. Fluorescent light strips are sold in lengths up to 8 feet in most cases. Fluorescent fixtures are designed for hardwire applications or for a cord and plug. Adapted fixtures mount directly to the ceiling or from hanging chains.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Long nose side-cutting electrical pliers
  • 3/8-inch ROMEX® connector
  • Locknut
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Yellow wire nuts
  • Phillips head screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Remove the light fixture's cover to access the inside of the fixture. Remove the cover by twisting the clip or locking mechanism on one end of it. Remove the knockout plug from the desired location on the fixture. Standard fluorescent strip fixtures usually have knockout plugs located on each end as well as the back of the fixture. Use a pair of long nose side-cutting pliers to punch out and then twist the knockout until it breaks free of the fixture.

  2. 2

    Insert a 3/8-inch ROMEX® connector into the knockout hole. Secure the ROMEX® connector to the fixture with a locknut. Tighten the locknut with the pair of needle-nosed pliers or by tapping it with a flat head screwdriver and hammer.

  3. 3

    Insert the end of the cord through the ROMEX® connector, allowing enough cord to make the connections to the fixture. Tighten the clamping screws on the ROMEX® connector to secure the wire. The type of cord used for this project depends on its intended application. Standard lamp cords do not have grounds but will work. For added safety and especially around wet areas, use a cord and plug that have a ground. A construction extension cord is ideal. Just cut off the receiving end of the cord with the long nose side-cutting pliers.

  4. 4

    Strip the insulation from the cord to expose a black "common," white "neutral" and ground, which is green. Next strip 1/2-inch of the insulation from each wire on the cord and the wires from the fixture.

  5. 5

    Make the wiring connections. Twist the black or common wire from the cord to the black wire or set of wires on the fixture and secure them with a wire nut. Repeat this step for the white or neutral wires. Most fluorescent fixtures do not have a grounding wire. Instead, they have a green grounding screw mounted directly onto the fixture. Twist the ground wire from the cord around the grounding screw and tighten them with a Phillips head screwdriver.

  6. 6

    Install the cover, insert bulbs into the fixture and test it. If the fixture fails to work, remove the cover and check the wiring connections.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a cord from an old vacuum cleaner or other type of appliance to save money.
  • It is acceptable to use a non-grounded cord/plug in applications where the fixture is out of reach and away from wet areas.

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