How to Build an Antique Fixture for Under $25

Mar 30, 12 How to Build an Antique Fixture for Under $25

As we’ve discussed in an earlier articleAntique light bulbs and antique light fixtures have become increasingly popular in recent years. Whether it’s nostalgia or just an honest affinity for ornate blown glass and intricately looped glowing filaments, restaurants, upscale retail shops, and even homeowners can’t get enough of antique lighting.

Unfortunately, high demand leads to inflated prices. Any simple fixture that claims to be “antique” or “vintage” costs a premium. Some are worth the price, but we’ve seen simple antique pendants out there going for over $100, when the raw materials to build the fixture cost under $25. These are certainly nice products, but are they worth the markup?

The following guide will show you how to build your own antique swag light fixture in less than 10 minutes with materials you can buy for about $25, including the bulb.

Needed Materials:

(1) antique twisted wire cord - $6.00
(1) dimming brass socket - $10.00
(1) EZ grip antique plug - $1.50
(1) antique light bulb - $5.00

Needed Tools:

A flat head screwdriver
A set of wire strippers
A pair of scissors

Step 1: Prepare the Wire

Prepared Wires

Prepared Wires

Using wire strippers, strip the PVC jacket of both wires on both ends of the cord, exposing about 1/2 inch of the inner copper strands. Trim back the cloth covering another 1/2 inch, using scissors to cut away any frayed threads.

Step 2: Attach the Socket

Attaching Socket Terminals

Attaching Socket Terminals

Pop the socket cap off the socket shell. Feed one end of the cord through the top of the socket cap. At this point, tie the wires into an Underwriter’s Knot to relieve excess strain. Using the screwdriver, attach the wires to the terminals in the socket shell. Since the plug we’re using is non-polarized, it doesn’t matter which wire you attach to which terminal. Slide the socket cap down the cord and snap it back to the socket shell.

Step 3: Attach the EZ Grip Plug

Attaching Plug Terminals

Attaching Plug Terminals

Remove the plug cap from the shell by removing the screws on either side of the plug blades. Slide the plug shell out of the plug cap. Feed the free end of the cord through the top of the plug cap, then attach the wires to plug terminals on the shell, just as you did with the socket. Slide the cap back over the shell and replace the screws.

Step 4: Screw in the Bulb

Screwing in the Bulb

Screwing in the Bulb

Screw the bulb into the socket. You can now hang your swag fixture from a ceiling hook and plug it into any wall outlet. Use the built-in dimmer on the socket to adjust the brightness to a suitable level.

Optional Modifications

If you’d like to make a pendant fixture instead of a swag, the modification is simple: Just leave off the EZ grip plug and direct wire the fixture into an existing J-Box.

This is a very simple and versatile fixture, so there are many ways to modify it. You can use a different socket, add a cage or lamp shade over the bulb, twist together multiple pendants to create a chandelier, or even attach the socket to an old table lamp. Do you have other ideas? Post them in the comments, on our Facebook, or let us know on Twitter. Even better, send us a photo of your project and we’ll post it on our Pinterest.

Important Safety Note

This homemade fixture is not UL listed. Use reasonable safety precautions when assembling and installing your fixture. Never leave the fixture unattended or plugged in when not in use.

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Buying Fluorescent Ballasts: 3 Factors to Consider

Feb 10, 12 Buying Fluorescent Ballasts: 3 Factors to Consider

Unless you’re an electrician, you’ve probably never changed a ballast. Chances are, when your garage fixture or kitchen light went out, you changed the bulbs, and when that didn’t work, you went to an overpriced hardware store and bought a brand-new fixture. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, you could’ve saved a lot of money by switching out the ballast—an investment of only $10 to $15.

But with so many options out there, how would you know which ballast to pick? The truth is, it’s pretty simple. There are tons of fluorescent ballasts to choose from (we have nearly 300 on our site!), but most business owners and even homeowners will find it easy to wade through that seemingly never-ending selection if they concentrate on just 3 key specs: Bulb type, start method, and ballast factor.

Bulb Type

Needless to say, this is the most important part. If you don’t know what type of fluorescent bulb you’re using, you’re going to have a hard time figuring out which type of fluorescent ballast to buy. Fortunately, most fluorescent fixtures will use one of three common bulb types: An F40T12 (4′ long; 1.5″ in diameter), an F32T8 (4′ long; 1″ in diameter) or an F54T5 (46″ long; 0.625″ in diameter). If your bulbs don’t meet one of these descriptions, you’ll need to check the etching near one of the ends of the fluorescent bulb (a good idea even if you think you know the bulb type).

Start Method

Once you’ve determined what type of  fluorescent bulbs you have, don’t burn them out prematurely by choosing a ballast with the wrong starting method. As discussed in a previous article on how to extend the life of a light bulb, an instant start ballast hits the fluorescent bulb cathodes with about 600 volts every time you flip the light switch. As you might imagine, the bulb can only stand so many of those on/off switches. Consider where your fixture is installed. Offices, boardrooms, and retail spaces tend to stay lit for long periods, so use an instant start ballast should be fine, as long as you don’t switch the lights off and on more than about 3-4 times a day. Hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms are switched much more frequently, especially since the lighting in these areas is often controlled by an occupancy sensor. In these areas, it’s best to use a programmed start ballast, which will heat the bulb cathodes more slowly and prolong its life.

Ballast Factor

Finally, you need to consider light output. “What?” you say. “You mean the bulb isn’t exactly the brightness it says it is on the label?” Nope. The light output shown on a fluorescent bulb’s label, expressed in lumens, is figured using a normal light output ballast with a ballast factor between 0.77 and 1.1. A normal ballast factor is usually the right option, for “normal” circumstances. But if you don’t need your room quite as bright, you can save electricity by using a low output ballast with a ballast factor below 0.77. On the other hand, if you are lighting a warehouse or manufacturing facility where brightness is important, you will need a high output ballast with a ballast factor above 1.1, which will push the bulb to be 10% or more brighter than stated on the label.

Of course, if you need something more specialized like a sign ballastdimming ballast, or circline ballast, you’ll likely need an equally specialized electrician. The same principles still hold true, however, so if you need to call an electrician, at least he’ll be impressed by how much you know!

 

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Exit and Safety Lights

Oct 19, 11 Exit and Safety Lights

If you own or manage a business of any sort, it is likely required that you invest in exit lights, safety lights, and emergency signage. While no business owner wants to think his or her business might suffer a fire or other emergency, it is important to prepare for that contingency anyway. Insurance companies demand it, and most local fire codes make it a requirement. Most importantly, however, proper emergency lighting is for the safety of your business, customers, and suppliers. The last thing you want is for a simple lack of signage or emergency lighting to lead to a tragic accident.

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Residential Fixtures

Jun 13, 11 Residential Fixtures

Needing to beautify your home with lighting? Look no further than 1000Bulbs.com! 1000Bulbs.com offers residential fixtures from Nuvo Lighting, Nora Lighting, Cree LED Lighting, Halo Lighting, and a number of other trusted manufacturers. Because lighting is an essential element in bringing your home to life, whether you are looking for general room lighting or task lighting, it is important to find fixtures that fit your needs as well as your decorating style.

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Enhancing Your Interior Decor with Nuvo Residential Fixtures

Feb 07, 11 Enhancing Your Interior Decor with Nuvo Residential Fixtures

Nuvo residential fixtures are one way to update your interior spaces and take your decorating in new directions. This particular manufacturer offers a wide range of lighting options to fit into just about any existing decorating scheme. Many people have outdated light fixtures and are not quite sure what to do with them. You will find our inventory of these fixtures will give you plenty of ideas on where to take your lighting. Replacing an old outdated brass fixture with an updated light can transform a room in a matter of minutes. That is a quick and easy way to update any room in your house.

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