Jan 10, 2013 - Lighting    28 Comments

I Hate CFLs {a tutorial for rewiring for warm light}

This project started like so many others, with a great deal.  I had seen these cork pendant lights at Lowe’s and really liked them.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

My basement was far from being finished at the time but I knew I had the perfect place for them.  That was when I noticed the price…$7!  I threw three into my cart when I realized that they were hard wired for Compact Florescent Light bulbs.  BARF!  I HATE CFLs.  Actually I hate all florescent light bulbs.  I wouldn’t even allow our builder to put them in my garage.  The slow warm up, the flickering, the blue hue, no thank you.   Something had to be done.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

I loved the pendant and couldn’t let this amazing price go to waist.   Could I change them over hold a warm incandescent bulb?  You betcha.  I hustled over to Lowe’s lighting parts department.   I picked up a multi sized 8 pack of brass nipples for $2.98 (why they are called nipples is a mystery to me!).   I also grabbed a new porcelain 60 watt lamp socket for $3.57 (I bought 3, one for each pendant).

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

On this particular pendant removing the old socket was simple.  I just unscrewed it from the top and pulled it through the shade keeping the rubber and metal washers separate from the socket.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

Then with wire cutters (scissors would work fine too), I cut the cord between the washer and the socket.  Then I threaded a medium sized threaded pipe (brass nipple) over the cord.  I slid the pipe up near the washers.  Then I cut around the cord (about an inch from the end) without severing the three cords in the center.  With pliers I pulled off the black sheath.  Again scissors would work, just don’t cut all the way through the wires.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

Repeat the process by removing the sheath from the inside wires.  Wrap the coated wires around the screws, one group to one screw, the other to the other screw.  It doesn’t matter which is which.  If your light fixture is grounded, there will be a third group of wires that are either copper, a single thick wire, or in my case small unsheathed but grouped.  I’ll explain those later.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

Once they are wrapped around the screw, tighten them with a screw driver.  I slipped the grounded wire through the back of the metal on the socket and wrapped it around the metal screw.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

Once all the wires are connected, slide the threads into the silver nut that is on the socket.  Then slip the washers back down.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

Pull the wires through the top of the fixture until the brass nipple shows through.  Screw the black decorative nut down until it is secure.  Hang like any other fixture.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

Here they are in my almost finished basement.  What a steal!  With all of the supplies I had to purchase, they ended up costing less than $11 each and I got exactly what I wanted.  Simple yet funky and natural cork pendants with the warm glow of incandescent bulbs.

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

 Come on, look at that glow!

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

I know this was a very specific tutorial, BUT this transformation can be made for all kinds of lights that were made with those unfortunate CFL sockets.  So next time you are at Ikea or a home improvement store, don’t over look an otherwise awesome light fixture just because you hate CFLs too.   Rewiring is super simple, really cheap, and this took less than 5 minutes (it actually took longer to hang the lights than to rewire them!).

Step By Step Tutorial for Rewiring CFL to Incandescent Light Fixtures

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  • Those look great! And what a deal!! I never find deals like that. I too do not like CFLs but I thought incandescent lights were being fazed out completely. Aren’t incandescent lights hotter? Could it possibly a fire hazard to have incandescent instead of CFL in those pendants? Hope not! I really love the way they look!

  • I can’t believe you posted this today, when I was just whining about how much I hate the CFL’s in our house! This post is being printed and laminated!!!! I am stockpiling incandescent bulbs because I am petrified I won’t be able to get them. Thank you SO much for this post and the pendants totally rock!!

  • To bad you’re destroying the planet…let me check, yep an American.

    • Fluorescent bulbs are worse for the environment than incandescent. Just because they use less energy in the short run doesn’t mean they’re better for the earth in the long run.

      Thank you so much for this tutorial, it’s very helpful and I’ll definitely be saving it.

      • When fluorescent bulbs are disposed of properly, as in not chucked in a landfill,they’re way better for the environment.

        • Take away my mercury filled thermometer and make me fill my home with 47 mercury filled lightbulbs that I’m supposed to evacuate my house for in the event one breaks and be in protective gear to clean up and dispose of. Tell me how that would work out in say a NICU ward?

          Oh, and while we’re at it replace my toilet with a low-flow version that now has to be flushed multiple times to make waste go down and requires you to continuously have a plunger in your hand when you do so.

          And, let’s not forget that high efficiency front loading washing machine that ties my laundry into stretched out knots and beats my clothing into oblivion. It cost me three times as much money up front, if I don’t immediately remove my clothing it will smell like mold thereby requiring to be washed again. Or wait I could spend ten dollars a month on a product to stop the rubber seal from stinking up my laundry room not to mention the money spent replacing clothing that my washer quickly breaks down. Sounds like a great deal and a real plus to the environment to me. So please, take your argument and condescension elsewhere There are adults conversing amongst themselves.

          • I can’t help but think that most of your arguments amount to your desire for your own convenience, and the cheapest option over being a responsible global citizen. I assume you live in America, you’re rich compared to global standards, so please don’t just opt out of better options for the planet because it cost you an extra buck or two. And yes you might have to get your cloths out of the washer before they start to smell…are you really that lazy? Come on.

    • As the owner of a cleaning business, I can affirm CFLs are the pits. Our employees have to turn on every CFL light in a home before cleaning because they take too long to reach their maximum brightness, then are still too “shadowy” to allow for the best cleaning job to be performed. Of course the client doesn’t see the dirt left after cleaning either. My bet is that your home is dirty too, Jazz.

  • I hate those ugly light bulbs thanks so much to showing me how to replace them.

  • Thanks for sharing this! I had no idea it was so simple. Of course, I have a light I MUST try this on. :) Pinning!

  • What I dislike is when the government gets involved in everything, including what kind of light bulbs I have to use!

  • I have to comment to those who think CFL lights only emit a cold, harsh light. We have switched our entire home to CFL’s (yes I also have a front loading washer and an energy star fridge and dishwasher). Our CFL light bulbs have the same warm glow that our od bulbs used to have. I cannot see any difference and it makes me feel good that I am doing what I can to help the environment. Plus we don’t have to change bulbs as often.

  • I’m loving all the discussion on this post! Who knew that the food I have in my pantry and the light bulbs that I choose would be such “HOT” topics! I’m grateful I still have a choice in my bulbs and hope that never changes. I also have a front loading washer that I love, not for it’s environmental friendliness (kind of a funny term, “friendliness”. How many environmentalists are “friendly” when they are calling you names and shoving their agenda down your throat). Any-who, my Frigidaire front loader rocks. It cleans clothes amazingly well and never stinks! Let’s continue the “friendly” discussion. I’m having a few really good laughs over here in America.

  • Yes the above comment before is correct, CFL bulbs do come in a warm light options, just as incandescent come in blue light options. We should all try to do what we can regarding the environment, including those things that are inconvenient. We know we should, we feel it, but we need to trust that the majority will make the right choices and changes. Admonishments are useless really and not necessary, just make your changes and if people don’t want to after being informed of the environmental ramifications, just let them come to it on their own.

    • Thanks Hillcmm, I still haven’t found any CFL’s that give me the look I’m after…BUT I am hopeful that the new L.E.D. technology will prove warm.

  • Those horrible spiral CFL bulbs are not even an option for me. Because of the UV radiation they leak out, they cause my skin to feel irritated and sore if I sit under them too long. I can feel it after only 10-15 minutes. It also strains my eyes, like snow blindness (any of you who going skiing know what I am talking about).

    I am so sensitive that there are many restaurants I cannot eat in, because they have switched out the bulbs over the tables with CFLs. I may be much more sensitive than most, but I cannot imagine that all this UV exposure is good for everyone else either. (In case you were wondering, I have no problem being outside in sunlight, so long as it is not for more than a few hours)

    In addition, CFLs give off a hideous pink ghastly quality of light, that seems to suck all the life out of a room.

    • Anders, We are SOUL SISTERS! This was one of the most delightful comments ever on my blog :)

      • UGH! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million times thank you. I HATE, LOATHE, HATE those damn mercury-filled bulbs, and I have 2 BRAND NEW closets that have those damn pin holes that won’t allow me to put a NORMAL bulb in them. UGH. Now I live in darkness in there as does my son whose closet had 2 as well. I will NOT have them exposed to mercury. American or not…THESE bulbs are DANGEROUS, dammit! And, in a landfill… helloooooooo…. mercury in the earth. Ummm… not good. And, I agree EVERY BIT with the reader who posted that we have to flush low-flush toilets MULTIPLE times and have to WASH clothes multiple times to get them clean again. I went back to an agitator washer. I’m all about saving the environment, e.g. NOT using pesticides and bug sprays and clorox, but SHEESH … THIS new CFL way is NOT the way!

        • Ruthie, Ha! I love your enthusiasm, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I just bought a couple hundred dollars worth of incandescent bulbs for my stock pile.

  • I just wanted to mention that incandescent bulbs are becoming extinct this year. Most stores have already started to clearance out of them! So after all the re-wiring…you may have a hard time finding them in the future. But another option if you hate CFL’s is to try the LED bulbs, they have warm toned one which would be great for those of you that like the warm look. I don’t like the really super cool ones, but an LED “bright white” is PERFECT for my taste and SO much cheaper to run!

    • Rachael, You are right, the 75 and 60 watts are no longer being manufactured or imported into the U.S. I get very frustrated even thinking about it! LEDs ARE better than CFL’s but despite all of the warm tone efforts they have put into them, they still aren’t working for me. The closest that I have found are the crazy expensive halogen bulbs. As for now, I am working on building my large stockpile of bulbs. And since soooo many light fixtures are wired with the old light bulb fittings, I think that they will continue to make new bulbs that will fit in the old hardware, even if they are 10 times the price!

  • 8% more energy consumption with CFLs, and the light is hideous.

    In 1987 the town of Traer, Iowa distributed 18,000 free bulbs to its residents in a demonstration project to get the answer. The results showed that residential electricity use actually rose by 8% because people tended to use more lights and keep them on longer believing that the lighting was cheaper.


  • Just found this. Love it! Love it! Love it!

  • I’m one of those folks who has always HATED fluorescent lights. They make me feel bad. This is a difficult thing to describe, but it’s real. I find it depressing to be in a situation where I am exposed to fluorescent lighting for any length of time. Just today, I read an article in Psychology Today stating I am far from alone in feeling this way. The new and improved CFL bulbs have an “F” in there for a reason – FLUORESCENT. Any fluorescent light emits flickering, even if your eye doesn’t detect it, your brain DOES. For people who are highly sensitive to this sort of light, it is a cause for great despair. I am a retired nurse. I worked in an environment brightly lit with nothing but fluorescence and it was so terribly disheartening. I used to take cigarette breaks (even though I don’t smoke) just to get time outdoors with natural daylight and AWAY from the fluorescent lighting. Once I retired, my GREATEST joy was being at home with natural light pouring in the windows! And I, too, have stockpiled many, many incandescent light bulbs. The new LEDs are much more pleasant because they do not flicker, but the expense is way out of line in proportion to the light provided and the energy saved. Conservation should be across all fronts, including our hard-earned money!
    I also take issue with the mercury in the CFLs. Where’s the logic in that? And how about the energy used at, say, a stadium scheduling games at night? Who’s telling THEM to conserve energy? It would seem that certain entities are above those principles. If examples are to be set, let’s start with stadiums, all those ‘well lit’ parking areas and garages. Let’s curtail the night-time sporting events. Somehow, I doubt THAT will happen. This has become a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. it only applies to the ‘little’ people.

  • looking good

  • nice post

  • This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am truly pleassant to read everthing at one place.

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