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Thread: convert light socket to outlet?

  1. #1

    Default convert light socket to outlet?

    I've got a partially finished attic space in my house that I'd like to be able to use as a computer room/den area. I plan on having up to 3 computers/monitors as well as other misc computer appliances. The problem is that there is only one light fixture in the room and no electrical outlets.

    Part of the walls are still bare and I can see where the line comes up through the wall and there is a box where it splits in 3. 1 goes to the baseboard heater in one room, then to the thermostat for that heater, then to the other thermostat in the other bedroom and on to its' baseboard heater, then back to the box where it came from. There is also a 3rd line coming from that box that runs to the one light fixture in the room. Neither baseboard heater gets used very often. Is it possible for me to turn this light socket into a grounded outlet?

    I've tried doing a lot of reading here and on other electrical sites, but I cannot find any information specific enough for me to feel comfortable making any changes.


  2. #2


    It is very common that future thinking electricians when wiring a dwelling wires a dedicated branch circuit in the attic for future wiring. Sounds like that is what you have in that light. Try shutting off the breakers until that light goes out. Then make sure all other breakers are on and see if anything else is dead but that one light. If I guess right you will find nothing but that light on that circuit.

    If this is true then you can run a 14 or 12/2wGrd matching the wire size in that light fixture from that light fixture to the first receptacle you want to wire. Then run from that receptacle to the next receptacle in a daisy chain manner daisy chain from receptacle to receptacle until you have wired all the receptacles you need in that attic. The one branch circuit should easily carry your electronic equipment. However if you have a laser type printer that printer may load the circuit to its limit. You will need to try you system and see if the laser printer overloads that breaker and causes it to trip. Then you may have to run a dedicated circuit ot that printer. Should be find though.

    Do not try to wire any receptacles off that heater circuits.

    If the light has a switch on the wall then you may have your power in the light or in the switch. Research where the power come to that light and swtich and run from that box to your receptacles.

    Add a smoke detector up there also 120 volt with battery back up.

    Let us know how you come out.


  3. #3


    When I shut off the breaker that controls the one light, the baseboard heaters stay on. Is this ok?

    Also, I am concerned about that line being grounded. Below is a picture of the box that splits into 3. Notice what I am assuming is a poor attempt to ground this line. How can I test this and/or fix it so it is really grounded and really safe? Could I use a GFCI?

    Thanks for all the help. I'm learning a lot from this forum.


  4. #4


    I am suspecting the clothe style romex does not have a grounding wire and is the power to that box. If so then they had nothing to connect that grounding wire to from the plastic romex.

    Back trace to confirm you have a circuit with or without a grounding wire in that cable from the panel. If it has no grounding wire then install a new cable to get grounding to your attic. Worst option is using a GFI and extending the two wire non grounidng circuit. Rather see you install a new wire if with no grounidng from the panel.

    When you shut all down I understand that the heat is separate circuit. Next ensure no other loads are already using that branch circuit. If it is dedicated with no other loads and with a grounding wire from teh panel then you are fine to use it.

    I suspect that bad bare wire connection is because they had no grounding wire feeding that box and didn't know what to do with that bare wire. Connecting to the steel box connected to a wood stud did them no good due to nowhere for current to flow back to panel. Also suspect you have some receptacles from this circuit that look like they are grounded with the bare wire but the bare wire does not go to the panel. Check that out also. When you see a bare wire connected in that manner make you want to check the entire circuit for integrity of grounding.

    Be sure what you are connecting to.

    Good Luck


  5. #5


    When I turn off the breaker that controls that light, I also lose power to an outlet in a downstairs room. What do you think? When I test the line going to the light I can see that it is not grounded, I get no voltage between hot and ground. Would it be possible for me to run a new line from the panel to the attic that is grounded? Perhaps nothing in my house is grounded. The panel is an older push-button style.

    off subject: What part of Indiana are you in? I grew up in Indianapolis and went to school at IU but now I live in Portland, OR. My family and a lot of friends still live back in Indy.

    thanks again,

  6. #6


    Shelbyville, 20 miles southeast of Indy.

    You will need to open your panel and look for a bare or green grouding wire [single wire]. See if it goes to a metal water line in direct contact with earth no more than 5' from that earth contact or goes to a ground rod outside. If not there go to your meterbase and look for a 1/2 or 3/4" conduit running down from the meterbase to a ground rod. If you find either then your main service panel is with a grounding electrode system.

    You will have to open each box in all branch circuits and inspect for bare or green wire either wire nutted or crimped and all steel boxes with a green screw bonding the boxes if metal. Look for a green or bare wire to the receptacle devices also. This will tell you what branch circuits need to be with a grounding wire.

    If you find more of the wrapping around a screw of a romex connector then make a legal connection. That type connection is unreliable and unsafe.

    While you are in your panel look at the romex cables coming from the panel out as branch circuit conductors. Look to see if they have the bare or green wire connected to the grounding bar in that panel.

    Hope this helps


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