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Dodge the Emergency Room with Hardwired LED Night Lights

It definitely is more convenient to install a hardwired night light than it is to visit the emergency room.

I decided to install one because our kids, who are 9 & 7, tend to need the bathroom around 2:00 am. Unfortunately our bathroom upstairs is dangerously close to the steps. Rather than risk someone getting hurt I decided to install a $12 hardwired LED night light.

Install a Hard Wired LED Night Light

We’ve used regular night lights but they stick out from receptacles. This causes them to get broken when someone walks too close to the hallway wall. Admittedly we could leave a light on in the bathroom or hallway. This option could be energy efficient if you use an LED bulb but even then the light is so bright it would keep me up (I still like to sleep with our door open in case our girls call for us).

This tutorial is very similar to the one I did on the U-Socket. If you know a bit about electrical outlets you can easily install a hardwired LED night light.

The first step is to turn off the power to the circuit that feeds power to the wall outlet you’re replacing. Do this at the breaker box or fuse box. Check the power is off by either plugging in a lamp to the receptacle or testing it with a voltage tester.

Remove the wall plate  from the outlet with a screwdriver and set it aside.

 

Wall Outlet

 

Remove the outlet from the electrical box and keep the old mounting screws that held it in place. Sometimes the old screws are longer to accommodate a deeper electrical box configuration and the last thing you want to do is look for them in the kitchen trash (trust me).

 

Keep the Old Outlet Mounting Screws

 

This is a great tip for any newbie performing basic electrical work: take a picture of the old receptacle’s wiring before undoing it. Even thought it’s really simple to install a basic outlet sometimes it’s nice to have a reference picture.

 

Take a picture of the outlet wiring

 

Undo the bare copper ground wire by using a screwdriver to loosen the green ground screw. The hot wires (black) should be connected to the outlet’s gold screws and the neutral wires (white) need to be connected to the outlet’s silver screws. If you can’t remove the wires from the original outlet snip them using  combination strippers. I had to do this for both the hot and neutral wires.

 

Cut Old Wires with Combination Strippers

 

While window shopping at Lowes I found this great night light/outlet combination by Pass & Seymour. It’s meant to replace a 15-amp receptacle and the LED light should last for 20 years! Plus, it’s tamper resistant (which means children can’t get shocked).

 

 Pass & Seymour Night Light Outlet

 

Since the hot and neutral wires were snipped the insulation had to be removed by 3/4 of an inch to expose the bare copper. Read the directions carefully and if you’re not comfortable with installing the electrical outlet call an electrician.

 

Stripping Insulation from Electrical Wire

 

This outlet only had one electrical cable entering the box. Thus, there is only one neutral wire (white), one hot wire (black), and one ground wire (bare copper). This configuration is called an “End-Of-The-Run” receptacle.

You may have a “Middle-Of-The-Run” setup where there are two cables entering the outlet box and you’ll have two neutral wires (white), two hot wires (black), and two ground wires (again, bare copper).

The new night light/outlet combination will only have three terminal screws: one green ground screw for the ground wire(s), one black screw for the hot (black) wire(s), and one silver screw for the neutral (white) wire(s). End-Of-Run receptacles require the bare copper ground wire be connected to the green ground screw. Ensure the loop for the ground wire turns clockwise so that when it is tightened it becomes securely fastened. You should also pinch the ground wire together with combination strippers or long-nose pliers to add more stability to the connection.

 

Ground Wire Connection to Night Light Outlet

 

The neutral (white) wire connects to the silver screw terminal on the nigh light. Slide the bare neutral wire between the small brass plate adjacent to the silver terminal screw and small groove in the outlet.

 

Neutral Wire Connection to Night Light

 

Tighten the silver terminal screw to secure the neutral wire. Now do the same process for the black terminal screw and the hot (black) wire.

 

Hot Wire Connection to Night Light

 

If you have a Middle-Of-Run configuration you’ll need to pigtail the two neutral (white) wires together to a third neutral wire using the appropriately sized wire connector. In this case you need a wire connector that can accept at least three 14-gauge wires. This Family Handyman article on wire connections is invaluable for determining how to do this process safely. The same pigtail connection will need to be made for the hot wires and ground wires respectively.

The installation in this tutorial required the use of spacers in order to get the night light flush with the wall. If you need to do any type of outlet or switch electrical work definitely buy these at your local hardware store, they really come in handy :)

 

Electrical Outlet Spacers

Three outlet spacers were placed between the outlet mounting screws and the outlet electrical box. This helped get the night light lined up with the wall. You can cut the spacers apart and put them together using their recessed spaces/pegs.

Outlet Spacers for Night Light

Push the outlet mounting screws through the spacers and secure them into the electrical box.

Secure Outlet Mounting Screws

Fasten the wall plate to the night light but be careful not to over tighten it.

Fasten Wall Plate to Hardwired Night Light

At this point turn the power back on at the main electrical panel or fuse box and test the outlet using a receptacle analyzer. This great device tells you if your outlet has been wired safely and indicates if the outlet is working, grounded, and polarized. Simply plug it into the outlet.

Receptacle Analyzer Testing Outlet Wiring

This picture shows the receptacle analyzer’s last two yellow lights lit up. This indicates the receptacle has been wired correctly and allows me  to feel confident about my installation.

Analyzing the Receptacle Analyzer

You should buy an analyzer if you’re doing any electrical work or if you just want to check any outlets to make sure they’re wired the right way.

As you can see it’s not difficult to install a hard wired night light. Plus, this is a great project for anyone with small children (or husbands) who need to find the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Make it a great day!

 

 

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6 comments… add one

  • Dee June 29, 2012, 7:21 AM

    Good information-wish this had been an option when my children were growing up. I did wonder if this, or another brand of light is motion sensitive, comes on at dusk off at dawn, you click on and off, or is it 24/7 on? Still thinking I may want a few.

    • Jeff June 29, 2012, 7:43 AM

      Thanks Dee for your question. This LED only turns on when the hallway is dark. That said, if the sun isn’t out and the hallway is only dimly lit the light will come on during the day.

  • ZB April 19, 2013, 11:29 PM

    Thanks for your instructions. I had pulled my old outlet to look at it before doing anything and noticed the 5 wires (2 white, 2 black and 1 ground). Hadn’t run in to that before! So glad you explained that it could be “middle-of-the road” configuration and provided a link to research. Went to the handy dandy DIY store and picked up some wire to do the pigtail! Light/outlet is installed and works great!

    • Jeff Patterson April 22, 2013, 10:14 PM

      Great to hear your light/outlet is working ZB :)

      Make sure to test it for proper wiring by using a GFCI tester.

      • ZB April 22, 2013, 11:39 PM

        I did and got the correct lights! Very proud of myself! Now on to the motion sensor light switches!

        • Jeff Patterson April 23, 2013, 6:31 AM

          Awesome job ZB!! Let me know how the motion sensor installation goes. That’s something I’m looking to do in my daughter’s room since she never remembers to turn off the light :)

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