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Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more light?

Posted by linnea56 (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 14, 11 at 15:40

An older friend has a light fixture in a walk-in pantry that is a long wire with a bulb on the end. She has been using a small bulb in there, because if she uses a standard bulb, the wire gets hot. The pantry is very dark, and I've been trying to figure out how to help her bring more light in there. (Rewiring is not an option. No skills. Hiring someone is not an option. Apart from the cost (currently unemployed), it would open a whole kettle of worms. The whole house could stand to be rewired, but that is not happening.) She has already tried battery operated lights, and they are so dim, they are no better than lighting a candle. She can install a new fixture, but from my limited knowledge, if it draws too much, that won't help. It's a 90 year old house, and there are no outlets within reach to pull more from outside of the pantry. The ceiling is also about 10-11 feet high. So even if she put a ceiling fixture up there, it would be too far up to put light where it is needed, which is more at head height, like where the hanging fixture is now.

I suggested trying a compact fluorescent in there, but don't really know if that would solve the problem.

My further idea was: to get one of those screw in fixtures that has an outlet on it, as well as the screw in for the bulb. Then, get a small under cabinet fluorescent fixture, with a toggle switch, plug it in, and attach the under cabinet light to the underside of one of the top pantry shelves. She could use the under cabinet fluorescent only when needed, like at night. I did something similar in my pantry, but my house is not old, so I didn't need to worry about the load.

Would two fluorescents draw too much? The compact one from the hanging fixture, and the undercabinet light, connected to the same source? I'm thinking about getting the smallest undercabinet light we can find. Like a foot or 18 inches long.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

"I suggested trying a compact fluorescent in there, but don't really know if that would solve the problem. "

A CFL or LED will draw MUCH less current than a comparable standard bulb. That means, you can get more light without overworking that dangling wire.


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

Use a spiral bulb, CFL, and check that the rating is 6500K, not a soft white. This gives a brighter light and a 60 watt equivalent is only 13 watts.


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

Something is seriously wrong with the bulb wire if it gets even warm from any reasonable wattage bulb.

Even a 100 watt bulb is less tan 1 amp, and a very small wire can carry 1 amp.


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

The wire that the current bulb is connected to could be making poor contact with the terminals in the socket, or you could have a bad connection at the upper end if there is a junction box there, or you could have a partial break in the wires. The bottomline is that this is a potentially dangerous situation and you need to have someone with some electrical knowledge investigate, rather than try some half measures that won't fix the underlying problem. Don't you know anyone who has some wiring skills?


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

There's something seriously amiss if the wire it getting that hot from an ordinary light bulb and the primary concern would be that overheating could lead to a fire. Not to mention that fixtures hanging from wires isn't such a good idea either. If she can't afford to get it fixed properly, it might be best to avoid using the light and investing a flashlight.

Your friend might also consider talking to her pastor or leader of any groups she might be involved in. Certainly she has marketable skills and perhaps there's an electrician that would be willing to barter.


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

I have a recessed fixture in my closet that would go off now and then. Thats when I found out it was by design and I could only put a low wattage bulb in. I used a cfl. Problem solved. Your dangling wire is not by design though...sounds dangerous. I'd find a way to get it looked at or not used it. Putting a cfl in might help the problem but nevertheless, its a problem.


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

"Your dangling wire is not by design though...sounds dangerous. "

Some very old fixtures are not much more than a socket hanging from a wire.


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RE: Hanging bulb fixture in 90 year old house: how to get more li

If your older friend meets the label "senior citizen," you could try contacting the Area Agency on Aging for your region or a local Senior Citizen Services and ask if there are volunteer services available to her.

I would stop using that light and get her one of these, if she is able to crank it. I loved mine, until I left it at a stone yard. When I went back, they said they had not seen it. I bet they are making good us of it!

Here is a link that might be useful: LED crank work light with hook


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