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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Push the outlet mounting screws through the spacers and secure them into the electrical box.
Fasten the wall plate to the night light but be careful not to over tighten it.
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.
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.
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 and it certainly is a great project for anyone who has small children. It helps our kids safely find the bathroom in the middle of the night and enables us to get to their rooms without turning on the hallway light if they call for us.
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Make it a great day!