Q: We have a low-hanging light fixture over the kitchen table, and we’re constantly hitting our heads on it. How easy is it to shorten its chain and raise it up?
Access the electrical box by removing the lock ring holding the canopy in place and sliding the assembly down the chain. Disconnect the wires and, while holding the fixture with one hand, use your free hand to loosen the chain retainer from the nipple. Pull the wires through and rest the fixture on the floor.
If the chain is light-gauge, you might be able to pry open a link. If it’s heavy gauge, you’ll have to cut it with a pair of bolt cutters. Next, shorten the light’s wires and reconnect them to the house’s wiring. Keep track of the conductors’ colour-coding to ensure that they match up as before. You’ll find it easier to work with another person who can hold up the fixture while you tighten the chain retainer on the nipple.
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Elegant wall-mounted sconces are often found in dining rooms where they provide accent lighting, which complements the main chandelier. Sconces also make great reading lights, and are frequently installed in bedrooms right beside the bed’s headboard. However, installing sconce fixtures in the traditional manner requires cutting open the walls and snaking cables. Here’s a quick, easier method: Buy a plug-in, wall-mounted sconce and some adhesive-backed plastic wire molding.
At the end of the run, connect the cable to the transformer, making sure to tighten one wire under the “A” terminal, and the other under the “B” terminal. Mount the transformer to the house, then plug its power cord into an exterior GFCI outlet. Complete the job by connecting each fixture to the cable, which is easy to do because the fixtures are fitted with snap-together connectors. Slip the connectors over the cable, then pinch them closed. Sharp metal prongs inside the connectors will pierce the cable, make contact with the wires and light up the fixture. Repeat for the remaining fixtures.
Start by laying the light fixtures on the ground along the walkway, stairs or driveway; space them 8 to 10 ft. apart. Unroll the cable and lay it beside the fixtures. Then, use a straight-blade shovel to cut a 2- to 3-in.-deep slot into the ground along the line of light fixtures. Press the cable down into the slot, leaving a small loop of cable sticking out at each light fixture location.
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Low-voltage landscape lighting provides the very best–and easiest–way to improve the nighttime look of your home. It can also increase your safety and security by illuminating tripping hazards and shadowy areas. The entire system consists of just three main components: pathway light fixtures, plug-in transformer and low-voltage cable.
Installation is easy: Screw the track to the underside of the cabinet, attach the transformer to the track and plug its power cord into a nearby outlet, then lock the halogen fixtures into the track. These often come with 3-ft cords, which you’ll need to staple to the rear underside of the cabinet for a neater installation. Leave yourself enough slack to reach the outlet. The nice thing about this system is that you can add, remove and space the fixtures as necessary, to create the correct amount of light.
If you’re tired of standing in shadows while working at the kitchen counter, consider installing under-cabinet task lighting. These thin, narrow fixtures fit into the recessed space beneath the upper wall cabinets. The most popular under-cabinet fixture is the plug-in fluorescent type, which is affordable and easy to install. But for better, brighter light and more flexibility, I recommend a low-voltage halogen system. It consists of a metal track, plug-in transformer and individual light fixtures that can be installed anywhere along the length.
We have a low-hanging light fixture over the kitchen table, and we’re constantly hitting our heads on it. How easy is it to shorten its chain and raise it up?
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Next, take the round cardboard template provided with the light fixture and hold it over the ceiling hole. Be sure your cut doesn’t overlap a joist. Mark the template outline onto the ceiling, then cut out the new ceiling hole using a drywall saw.
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Gain access to the electrical box by removing the lock ring holding the canopy in place and sliding the assembly down the chain. Disconnect the wires and, while holding the fixture with one hand, use your free hand to loosen the chain retainer from the nipple. Pull the wires through and rest the fixture on the floor.
Partially disassemble the fixture to access its mounting plate. Securely screw the mounting plate to the wall, making sure to drive the screws into a wall stud or hollow wall anchor. Using a level, mark a perfectly plumb line on the wall directly beneath the mounting plate. Peel off the protective paper from the back of the wire molding, align it with the plumb line, and press it to the wall. Fasten the light fixture to the mounting plate, then pry open the wire molding. Slip the fixture’s power cord inside the wire molding and then snap it closed. Plug the cord into a wall outlet and you’re done.
The beauty of a recessed “can” light fixture is that it provides plenty of illumination while being completely unobtrusive. The typical recessed fixture fits flush against the ceiling for a clean, contemporary look. It’s ideal for small spaces, such as hallways and foyers, but also works well in larger areas, such as family rooms and dens where several fixtures are wired together in series. Replacing an existing ceiling-mounted light with an “old work” recessed fixture is simple because the recessed light comes pre-wired with its own electrical box. Here’s how to make the upgrade: After turning off the electrical power to the circuit, remove the old light fixture from the ceiling. Then use a thin flat bar to pry the old electrical box from the ceiling joist. If it’s attached to a metal mounting bar spanning between two joists, simply unscrew the box from the bar and push up to bend the bar out of the way.
A floodlight mounted to a garage or gable-end of a house is great for illuminating large areas of the driveway or yard, but it doesn’t provide much security if the light doesn’t come on when someone approaches. One of the quickest, most affordable ways to increase you’re home’s security is to replace a standard switch-operated floodlight with a motion-sensor floodlight, which comes on automatically whenever someone walks or drives up to your house.
For most pathway applications, 18-watt fixtures provide plenty of illumination. To determine what size transformer you need, simply add up the wattage of all the lights. For example, if you plan to install twenty 18-watt lights, then you’ll need a 400-watt transformer. Low-voltage cable comes in 12, 14 and 16 gauge. The right cable to use depends on the transformer size and length of the cable. Check with the lighting manufacturer for the recommended cable gauge for your installation.
A: Pretty easy. First, turn off power at the mains; then, flip the switch to check that you’ve cut electricity to the fixture.
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The upgrade is a simple matter of removing the existing floodlight and connecting the new fixture following the same wiring pattern: black wire to black wire, and white wire to white wire. The bare copper ground wire gets tightened under the green grounding screw inside the fixture. And remember, for the new motion-sensor fixture to operate properly, the wall switch that was operating the old floodlight must be left in the “on” position.
Take the electrical cable that was attached to the old light fixture and connect it to the wires inside the electrical box mounted to the new recessed fixture. Use twist-on wire connectors to join black to black, white to white, and green grounding wire to the bare copper grounding wire. Slip the fixture up into the hole and push firmly until its flange fits tight against the ceiling. Now complete the installation by inserting the trim kit and installing the appropriate bulb.
If the chain is light-gauge, you might be able to pry open a link. If it’s heavy-gauge, you’ll have to cut it with a pair of bolt cutters. Next, shorten the light’s wires and reconnect them to the house’s wiring. If the conductors are not color-coded, remember that the wire with the raised rib on its insulation is connected to the neutral wire; the other connects to the hot wire. You’ll find it easier to work with another person who can hold up the fixture while you tighten the chain retainer on the nipple.
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