How to Rewire a Lamp

Rewiring a lamp is a straightforward project that can breathe new life into an old fixture. With some basic tools and a bit of electrical know-how, you can upgrade outdated wiring to make your lamps safer and brighter. Follow these steps to learn how to rewire a table lamp, floor lamp, or other standard fixture.

Gather Necessary Materials

Before getting started, assemble all the materials you’ll need:

  • Lamp to be rewired
  • Replacement cord kit (with wire nuts)
  • Wire strippers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Voltmeter (optional)

Make sure to choose a replacement cord suitable for your lamp’s wattage. Standard kits include 18-gauge wires adequate for table lamps up to 100 watts. Heavier cord is recommended for more powerful floor lamps or fixtures with multiple bulbs.

Turn Off Power and Disassemble Lamp

Start by unplugging the lamp and turning off power to the outlet. Remove the shade and light bulb(s) and place them aside carefully to avoid damage.

Use the screwdriver to detach the lamp base from the main body, exposing the wiring connections. You may need to unscrew or pry apart any rivets or caps securing the base.

Test Wires with Voltmeter

This step is optional but recommended for safety. Use a voltmeter to test the black (hot) and white (neutral) wires coming from the lamp sockets. The wires should read 0 volts with the lamp unplugged, indicating no current flow.

If you get a reading, there may still be live power to the wires. Double check that the lamp is unplugged and carefully disconnect the wires before proceeding.

Cut Old Cord and Remove Wires

Locate the cord entry point where the lamp’s original power cord enters the base. Use wire strippers to remove about 1 inch of the outer plastic insulation.

Then use the needle nose pliers to detach the hot and neutral wires from the lamp hardware terminals or solder points. Remove the old cord through the entry point to fully disconnect it.

Attach New Cord and Connect Wires

Feed the replacement cord up through the same entry point so it is now entering the lamp base.

Match up the hot wire (black insulation) from the new cord to the hot wire from the lamp. Twist the bare ends together clockwise and secure with a wire nut.

Do the same for the white neutral wires from the new cord and lamp. Make sure all connections are tight and no copper is exposed.

Anchor New Cord

Once wired, anchor the new cord by installing an anti-slip cord grip. Feed the cord through the grip and tighten it around the outer insulation near the entry point into the lamp base.

This prevents any strain or tugging on the actual wire connections inside the lamp.

Reassemble Lamp

With the wiring complete, simply reattach the two halves of the lamp base enclosure. Screw or snap them back together securely.

Install the light bulb(s), then place the shade back onto the lamp. Restore power to the outlet and test that the lamp works properly before putting it back into use.

That covers the core steps for successfully rewiring a standard table or floor lamp. Follow basic electrical safety principles and this process can be applied to most residential-grade fixtures.

Rewiring Considerations for Specific Lamp Types

Certain lamps like touch-sensitive or dimmable models may have some extra wiring components to consider:

Touch Lamps

  • Inspect wiring for 3-4 inner wires (hot, neutral, ground, touch/signal)
  • Match functions when connecting replacement cord wires

Dimmable Lamps

  • May have extra dimmer switch wired to lamp socket
  • Ensure dimmer compatibility with new LED bulbs

Antique Lamps

  • Older sockets may have “hot” terminals on outer shell rather than center post
  • Rewire with care to avoid damaging antique components

Halogen Lamps

  • Require smaller 18-gauge replacement cord due to high wattage
  • Handle halogen bulbs carefully to avoid fingerprints/grease

Swing Arm Lamps

  • Anchor new cord to prevent tugging strain from arm motion
  • Allow extra slack in wiring to base for movement

Multi-Light Floor Lamps

  • Use 14-gauge or heavier cord for more wattage
  • Add wire nuts to join multiple hot/neutral wires

Safety Tips for Lamp Rewiring

Rewiring a lamp involves dealing with potentially dangerous line voltage electricity. Keep these safety guidelines in mind:

  • Turn off power at the breaker before starting
  • Double check wires with a voltmeter before handling
  • Only work on lamps you feel comfortable disassembling
  • Keep wire connections tight and enclosed inside base
  • Avoid pinching wires when reassembling the lamp
  • Check lamp operation before returning to service
  • Call an electrician if unsure about any wiring steps

Rewiring with the power off and handling wires carefully will keep you safe. If a lamp has any signs of shorting or damaged wiring, it may be wise to replace it entirely rather than risk rewiring it yourself.

Common Rewiring Problems and Solutions

IssuePotential CauseSolution
Lamp does not turn on– Faulty wire connection
– Bad plug or cord
– Failed bulb/socket
– Check all connections are tight
– Test or replace cord
– Check bulb and socket
Light flickers or sparks– Exposed wire touchig metal
– Loose wire connection
– Insulate exposed wires
– Reconnect hot/neutral wires securely
Dim light or bulb burns out quickly– Cord too small for wattage– Replace with heavier 14+ gauge cord
Brass shell of lamp socket is hot– Shell wired as hot terminal– Connect neutral wire to center post

If you encounter any other issues not listed above, it is generally safest to have a qualified electrician troubleshoot and repair the lamp. Do not attempt to use a lamp with any signs of electrical malfunction.

Supplies for Lamp Rewiring Projects

Having the right gear makes wiring jobs easier. Here are some recommended supplies to include in your lamp rewiring kit:

Cord sets – 14 and 18-gauge, 2 or 3 wire

Wire strippers – Self-adjusting style

Needle nose pliers – For tight spaces

Voltage tester – Pen-style for easy operation

Outlet tester – For checking power status

Wire nuts – Ceramic style, assorted sizes

Terminal crimpers – For secure connections

Cord grips – Adhesive-lined for fast install

Lamp parts – Sockets, rheostats, harps, etc.

Gloves – Insulating rubber for safety

Safety glasses – Protect your eyes

** Dust mask** – Avoid inhaling debris

Having these supplies on hand will make your lamp rewiring projects go smoothly and safely. Invest in quality materials from electrical supply stores.

FAQs about Rewiring Lamps

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about rewiring lamps:

Is it difficult to rewire a lamp?

Lamp rewiring is generally straightforward with some basic skills and care. The process involves disassembling the lamp, disconnecting old wires, connecting new wires, then reassembling the base and testing operation. Pay attention to safety and follow instructions closely.

How do I know what gauge wire to use?

For most table lamps, 18-gauge wire is sufficient. Higher wattage floor lamps may require 14 or 16-gauge for proper current capacity. When in doubt, choose slightly larger gauge wire.

Where can I buy replacement lamp cords?

Many home improvement stores sell replacement cords and kits for rewiring lamps. Look for 2 or 3-wire cords in various sizes. Make sure the cord’s amperage rating meets your lamp’s needs.

Can I touch the wires when the lamp is plugged in?

No, never handle electrical wires while the lamp is plugged in and powered on. Always turn off the light and disconnect the power source before rewiring a lamp.

How do I remove old wires from the lamp socket?

Turn off power to the lamp. Use needle nose pliers to grip each wire end connected to the socket and detach by rocking it loose from its anchoring point or solder.

Is it OK to just tape damaged wiring instead of rewiring?

No, do not attempt taping wires as a temporary fix. Wiring that is cracked, cut, or frayed should be fully replaced for safety. Always use new wiring when rewiring a lamp.

How do I anchor the new power cord?

Feed the cord through a flexible clamp with adhesive backing. Install this cord grip on the outer lamp housing near the base entry point to hold the cord snugly without straining wires.

Can I use a higher wattage bulb after rewiring a lamp?

Maybe, but verify the lamp is rated for the new bulb wattage you intend to use. Rewiring with new cord alone does not necessarily allow jumping up to a higher watt bulb.


Rewiring lamps by upgrading old cords and wires is a worthwhile project that can restore beloved lighting fixtures. With some basic DIY electrical knowledge and the right materials, the process is fairly straightforward. Always prioritize safety by disconnecting power before working and following guidelines carefully. Invest a few dollars in quality supplies that make wiring easier. If at any point you feel unsure about tackling a rewire yourself, consult a professional electrician to avoid potential hazards. But with the right preparations, rejuvenating lamps through rewiring can be a simple and satisfying home improvement activity.

How to Rewire a Lamp

Rewiring a lamp is a straightforward DIY project that can give new life to an outdated fixture. Replacing old wiring makes lamps safer and brighter. This guide covers the complete process in 8 steps.

What You’ll Need

  • Lamp to rewire
  • Replacement cord kit (with wire nuts)
  • Wire strippers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves

Choose a UL-listed cord kit with 18 AWG wire for standard table lamps under 100 watts. Buy thicker 14 AWG cord for more power-hungry lamps.

Turn Off Power

Start by unplugging the lamp and shutting off power to the outlet at the breaker box. Remove the shade and bulbs carefully.

Take Apart Lamp

Use the screwdriver to detach the base from the body. This exposes the wiring terminals. You may need to unscrew caps or pry retaining clips.

Test Wires with Voltmeter

Check for current with a voltmeter. The wires should read 0 volts. If not, re-check that power is off before handling wires.

Remove Old Wires

Strip the outer cord insulation about an inch using the wire strippers. Detach the hot and neutral wires using pliers. Pull the cord out through the entry hole.

Connect New Wires

Match up hot wires (black insulation) and connect with a wire nut. Do the same for white neutral wires. Keep connections tight with no exposed copper.

Anchor New Cord

Feed replacement cord through a cord grip fitting. Tighten it around the cord’s outer insulation near the base entry for strain relief.

Reassemble Lamp

Screw the base enclosure back together securely. Install the bulbs and lampshade. Restore power and test operation before using.

Safety Tips

  • Turn off power at breaker before starting
  • Wear gloves and eye protection
  • Avoid exposed conductors
  • Keep wires snug inside lamp
  • Check for issues before reconnecting

Follow basic electrical safety habits and you can handle rewiring standard lamps yourself. Now you can revive an outdated fixture with fresh wiring that makes it safer and brighter than ever.

Supplies for Rewiring Lamps

Having the proper tools and materials makes lamp rewiring projects easier. Stock up on these essentials:

Cord Replacement Kits

  • 18 and 14 gauge wire sizes
  • 2-wire and 3-wire configurations
  • Match cord to lamp wattage

Hand Tools

  • Wire strippers – self-adjusting
  • Needle nose pliers – reaching tight spots
  • Screwdrivers – Phillips and flathead
  • Cord grips – to anchor cords

Electrical Supplies

  • Ceramic wire nuts – assorted sizes
  • Terminal crimps – for solid connections
  • Electrical tape – to insulate wires
  • Heat shrink tubing – protective layer

Safety Gear

  • Rubber gloves – insulate from shocks
  • Eye protection – guard your eyes
  • Dust mask – avoid inhaling debris

Testing Equipment

  • Voltage tester – to check for current
  • Outlet tester – to confirm power off

Lamp Components

  • Sockets, switches, rheostats
  • Harps, bases, mounting hardware

Shop at well-stocked electrical supply stores for the best selection. Investing in quality tools and materials saves hassle and hazards when rewiring lamps.

Common Lamp Rewiring Challenges

While usually straightforward, some lamp rewiring projects come with particular quirks to manage. Here are solutions to a few possible issues:

Problem: Touch-Sensitive Lamp Not Working

Cause: Extra low voltage wires for touch sensor disconnected

Fix: Reconnect thin trigger wires from touch plate to transformer

Problem: Brass Lamp Socket Electrified

Cause: Shell wired as hot terminal rather than just center post

Fix: Connect neutral wire to shell, hot wire to center terminal post

Problem: Lamp Dimmer Not Compatible with New LED Bulb

Cause: Older dimmer needs resistance to work

Fix: Install new dimmer rated for LED, or replace dimmer with basic on/off switch

Problem: Antique Lamp Wires Disintegrate Upon Handling

Cause: Old brittle wiring that has degraded over decades

Fix: Extreme care and gentleness, or consult antique rewiring specialist

Problem: Halogen Lamp Not Working After Rewire

Cause: Lower wattage cord used than needed for halogen

Fix: Replace 18 gauge cord with 14 gauge wire suitable for high wattage

Problem: Swing Arm Lamp Wiring Breaks

Cause: Cord not anchored properly leading to pull/tug strain

Fix: Install cord grip to firmly anchor wiring inside arm joint

Problem: Multi-Bulb Floor Lamp Dimming

Cause: Total wattage too high for cord gauge

Fix: Calculate total watts. Use thicker 12-14 gauge cord for higher power

Tips for Rewiring Antique Lamps

Antique lamps require extra care to rewire due to older, brittle components. Follow these guidelines when upgrading wiring in vintage fixtures:

Carefully Inspect Wiring

  • Look for cracked, frayed, dried out insulation and wire
  • Note type of terminal connections (screw, solder)

Use Gentle Handling

  • Old wiring is delicate – no pulling or twisting
  • Grip wires near base with pliers when disconnecting

Clean Terminals

  • Remove dirt and corrosion with fine sandpaper
  • Repair damaged connections if possible

Match Wiring Guage

  • Use vintage cloth-coated wire if rewiring entire lamp
  • Or adapt minimum 18 AWG modern wire to antique sockets

Consider Component Limitations

  • Older sockets may have lower wattage limits
  • Avoid overdriving antique fixtures with too much power

Review Reassembly Steps

  • Some antique lamps have one-time assembly
  • Ensure lamp can be safely re-assembled after rewiring

Consult Experts if Needed

  • If unsure, have antique specialists assess and rewire the lamp
  • Some vintage lamps may be too delicate for DIY rewiring

Take your time. Do research to find period-appropriate wiring materials. With care and patience, your vintage lamp can shine bright on modern wiring.

How to Replace a Lamp Socket

Over time, lamp sockets can wear out or get damaged. Replacing a faulty socket is an easy fix to get your lamp lighting right again.

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement socket matched to lamp
  • Wire strippers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire nuts

Match socket type and wiring configuration. Note screw terminal versus push-in connections.

Remove Old Socket

Unplug lamp. Detach wiring from terminals. Unscrew socket from hardware. Remove any insulating paper from interior.

Attach Wires to New Socket

Connect wires to new socket terminals. Black is hot, white is neutral, and green is ground if present. Follow diagrams.

Install Socket in Lamp

Screw or push new socket into place in lamp base. On table lamps, ensure socket is upright and faces down when shade is on.

Test Operation

Plug in lamp. Test with bulb to verify proper operation and lighting. Let cool and re-check connections if issues arise.

With the right socket, fixing a damaged one on a beloved lamp is a simple repair. Take your time and double check wiring connections. Consult an electrician if needed.

How to Install a Dimmer Switch on a Lamp

Putting a dimmer switch on your lamp allows you to control the light brightness. Follow these steps to install a dimmer properly:

Choose a Compatible Dimmer

  • Make sure dimmer is rated for your light bulb type, such as LED or incandescent
  • Match wattage rating to your bulb and lamp

Turn Off Power

Unplug the lamp and shut off power at the breaker before working on wiring.

Open the Lamp Base

Remove shade. Unscrew base to access wiring. Detach hot and neutral wires.

Connect Dimmer Wires

Connect hot wire from socket and cord to dimmer input wires. Pigtail neutral wires together.

Mount the Dimmer

Install dimmer inside lamp base according to manufacturer instructions. Often requires a bracket.

Reassemble Lamp

Reattach wires leading to socket