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prc114 12-20-2009 04:32 PM

Wire recessed light from a 3 prong receptacle?
Hi all,

I was wondering, for curiosity's sake, if I could plug a recessed light, made to be installed in the ceiling, into a normal 3 prong outlet? I've actually tried this, and nothing happened. The wiring (I made a 3 prong outlet) is live, but the light doesn't come on.


Billy_Bob 12-20-2009 04:39 PM

Might want to get a book on electrical wiring and read it cover to cover. These are available at home improvement stores. This would cover the basics of wiring.

Also get a multimeter and learn how to use it. With this, you can "see" what is going on with your wiring by testing it in different ways.

How to use a multimeter...

prc114 12-20-2009 07:25 PM

Thank you, Billy Bob, and I am still curious, before I read a few hundred pages, whether this should work or not.

Scuba_Dave 12-20-2009 07:39 PM

Yup, as long as everything is hooked up right it will work
I used this method to Temp place recessed lights in my addition
Hot, neutral & ground

Billy_Bob 12-20-2009 07:47 PM


Originally Posted by prc114 (Post 369915)
Thank you, Billy Bob, and I am still curious, before I read a few hundred pages, whether this should work or not.

It will work if the light fixture is the same voltage as the outlet (120 volts AC).

And reading the book - learning to use a voltmeter will make you aware that light fixtures are different - some low voltage or maybe DC. Some may require a ballast or transformer. Others could be directly connected.

Also aware of what wires should go where. White, Black, green or bare, red, etc. Neutral, hot, ground. Polorized plugs and on and on...

prc114 12-20-2009 08:05 PM

Hugh, I wonder what I did wrong... hot, neutral, ground were all hooked up to each other, and I'm pretty sure I had the plug wired correctly.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good book to read?

Thanks everyone for your help!

jbfan 12-21-2009 07:29 AM

Was the lamp any good?

Billy_Bob 12-21-2009 09:14 AM


Originally Posted by prc114 (Post 369930)
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good book to read?

When I was first learning about electricity, I went to the library and book stores and looked at all the different books they had. Some were too technical for me, but others explained things in a way I understood.

And that is a personal thing. People learn differently. Might just want to poke around and see what looks interesting. For a 1st book, lots of pictures and diagrams are helpful.

Used bookstores might have books on electricity in general. For wiring a house, you would want the newest and latest book which says it complies with the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code).

But for a general book on how electricity works, AC, DC, how to use a multimeter, how to test circuits with a multimeter, etc. An older book would do just fine!

prc114 12-22-2009 09:46 AM

Well, this wounds my pride, but I simply forgot to check that the lightbulbs were connected :eek: - the manufacturer had put them in the fixture, but hadn't connected them inside (I now assume this is standard practice). The wiring itself worked perfectly... oops.

Thanks all!

KE2KB 12-22-2009 10:29 AM

Are you plugging these fixtures into a receptacle that is above the ceiling, or below?
There may be code restrictions on how you are allowed to do this.

I believe (without actually looking up the code) that you are not allowed to run a cord (like the type used on any portable fixture) through any building materials such as wall, ceiling, or floor.
So, if you are running standard rubber or plastic jacketed cord from a receptacle below the ceiling to the fixture above the ceiling, with the cord passing through the wall or ceiling, this is a code violation.

I know for a fact that code does not permit a receptacle to be located anywhere that is not directly accessible, such as above the ceiling (even if it is a removable tile ceiling) or wall.
I had a couple of fluorescent fixtures installed with plugs going to receptacles above a drop ceiling in the basement, and found that it was a code violation, so I removed the cord & plug and hard wired using Romex and appropriate junction box and clamps.

Hope this helps you avoid a hassle in the future.


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