How to Add a Ceiling Outlet from an Overhead Light Fixture

23 February 2017
 Categories: , Blog


If you've thought about adding some hanging paper lanterns to create a certain ambiance in a room, you may be dissuaded by the thought of electric cords snaking up your walls from your floor level outlets. 

However, there's no need to despair. You can simply power an electric outlet from the existing overhead light.

What you will need

  • 15 amp outlet
  • Outlet cover plate
  • "Old work" gang box
  • Utility knife
  • Screwdrivers (flat and Philips head)
  • Wire cutter, stripper tool
  • Wire—You will need to check the breaker that controls the power to the overhead light to determine the gauge of wire needed. If the breaker is stamped with a "15," you'll need a three wire sheath of at least 14 gauge wire. A 20 amp line (breaker is stamped "20") will require at least 12 gauge wire.
  • A pack of assorted wire nuts  
  • A roll of electrical tape
  • Stepladder to access the ceiling

Preparing the overhead light

It is critically important that you turn off the breaker to the light before you begin. Turning off the light switch will not cut power to the light fixture. Electric shock or death by electrocution are possibilities if you neglect to turn off the breaker.

When the breaker is off, you will remove the two screws that attach the light fixture to the ceiling. The fixture will then dangle from the wires which are connected by black electrical tape and a wire nut, which resembles a toothpaste cap. Remove the wire nuts and electrical tape to expose the bare wire ends.

Preparing for installing the outlet

When you've chosen the desired location, you will place the open end of the gang box against the ceiling at that spot. Trace the outline of the box, then remove it and cut through the trace line with a utility knife to remove the drywall. 

Measure the distance from the light fixture to your outlet location, add several inches to the measurement, and cut the wire sheath at the total length. Strip 3/4" of insulation from both ends of each of the three wires inside the sheath by placing each wire inside the numbered slot in the wire stripper blades, closing the blades, and pulling the wire through.

You will then feed one end of the sheath into the outlet opening and push it toward the light fixture until the sheath appears at the fixture.

Connecting the wire sheath to the light fixture

You will twist the black wire around the two black wire ends in a clockwise direction, then twist a wire nut around all three wire ends, then wrap a few layers of electrical tape around the wire nut. Do the same thing for the white wires. The green wire from the wire sheath will be connected to the green ground screw on the light fixture. Push the light fixture int othe ceiling and tighten the securing screws.

Connected the outlet

Push out one of the punch out tabs on the gang box, then pull the end of the wire sheath into the gang box. You will then push the gang box into the ceiling and tighten the diagonal screws to secure it.

Wrap the end of the black wire around the top brass terminal of the outlet, the white  wire around the top silver terminal, and the green wire around the single green terminal. Tighten all screws securely.

Push the outlet into the gang box and tighten the two screws, then add the cover plate.

Turn on the breaker and plug in your new paper lanterns. To learn more or receive more assistance, contact companies like O Herren Electric Corp.