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Installing Light Fixture when wiring is in the wrong place

I hope I can describe this accurately.  I had a "Hollywood" bar-type fixture on the wall  in my bathroom. Bought a new 3-light fixture with a round, approx 6" base.  Removed old fixture & found the electrical box was about 6 or 7" to the left of center (on the wall a few inches below the ceiling, which is already quite low).  Someone had cut a hole in the metal mounting plate to match the location of the wiring and had run the wiring through that instead of the center.  Obviously, the new fixture will not cover the box.  So I went all over town looking for a fixture with a long base.  This morning I got ready to install it & found that the curved "arms" of the lights will force placement farther down on the wall and (a) wiring would have to go even farther from the box and (b) with this fixture there won't even be room below it for the mirror (mirrow fits between the light fixture & wainscoting)!  I still have the fixture I originally bought with the smaller round base -- it can go at a height even with the old box, but I still have the problem of how to run the wiring.


Any advice on how to run the wiring about 8" to the right?  This may be a totally dumb question, but could I run it through a conduit between the present box and the back of the fixture?  My husband cannot physically do the work, but he understands electricity, so he's been advising me, but he will say at this point to call an electrician; we've spent a lot on kitchen & bath remodel already & I need to keep costs down as much as possible.  Am wondering if I can do this myself.  Would really appreciate any advice.

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Posted 2012-04-09T18:13:29+0000  by LJay LJay

Hey LJay.  Welcome back.


What you want to do is neither difficult or expensive.  However, with electrical work let's start with the rules.


Whenever you run new electrical cable, your local building department will require you to get a permit and have the work approved by one of its inspectors.  An inspector will reference both the National Electrical Code, (NEC), as well as any local standards which augment the NEC.


The "local standards" part is important.  For example, it will tell you which type of wiring needs to be used.  Some areas allow simple non-metallic cable while others do not.  I will say that you cannot just run wire outside the old box to the new location without installing another junction box.  A re-model box with retaining ears which allows for easy installation may be allowed.  The choice of using plastic or metal ones depends once again on local code requirements.  From a practical standpoint you will need a firmly anchored receptacle box so there is something to attach the new light fixture to.


The original "old" box you are tapping power from needs to remain accessible.  You can accomplish this by installing a blank cover plate and "hide" it by priming it and painting it the same color as the wall.  Another possible solution would be to move the old box to the new location, but this may entail more rewiring work than you want to do...


One reference I highly recommend for homeowners is the Home Depot Wiring 1-2-3 book.

You can find it here online as well as at any Home Depot Store.


Wiring 1-2-3.jpg


This book includes detailed instructions and illustrations covering a wide variety of electrical projects homeowners commonly tackle, including what you want to do.


So, can you do this yourself?  Learning about local requirements and using the 1-2-3 book make this project entirely possible if you want to tackle it.


I hope this helps,




Best Answer

Posted 2012-04-10T15:36:01+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Embarrassingly enough, I am back with another question about this same project.  It turned out that I was able to use the wiring where it was, as the wiring from the fixture was long enough to reach (and then some) the wiring where it is.  I do have to cover the opening, as I had to drop the fixture down to accommodate the curved arms of the lights, but that's OK.  I did have to make a trip to the store, as the connectors were too small -- I have solid copper wire coming out of the wall, and it's thicker than the new wire!


My question now is this:  I've got the fixture up and wired, but the cap nuts (my term, not sure if it's accurate) that hold it in place do NOT fit the screws that are fixed to the wall plate.  The nuts are just round balls in satin nickel finish to match the fixture, so it's not just a matter of finding other nuts -- I do want them to match the fixture.  The opening in the nuts is a bit too large. 


How would you approach this?  That sounds dumb, but I worry that I can't buy any that would look right, and also I can't take the screws to the store to fit them, as they are fixed to the plate that is on the wall.  I'm so sick of dealing with this installation that I'm almost ready to glue the things on!  (just kidding)  I was so sure I'd have the power back on and the fixture working tonight.

Posted 2012-04-10T23:40:29+0000  by LJay
BTW, that book is on my Wish List!! :) And thanks for your help.
Posted 2012-04-10T23:41:19+0000  by LJay

Hey LJay.  Thanks for the approved solution. 


I am not sure if or where you can get those ball shaped lamp nuts in a smaller size, but you could use acorn cap nuts as a substitute:

Cap Nut.jpg

These are available in stainless steel, which would match the satin nickel finish of your fixture fairly well.


Since the size nuts you have now are too big, I would think they are #8 size.  The cap nuts above also come in a #6 size which should work for you.  These are sold in the Hardware department of all Home Depot stores.  You can find them in orange colored plastic bags hanging in the fastener aisle grouped with all the other machine screw nuts and washers.


I hope this helps,





Posted 2012-04-13T12:42:11+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
Hi- I have a ceiling light in the kitchen that is off center of a new rectangular table that I purchased. Instead of employing an electrician, is there a lighting fixture that would only use the existing wiring with a rectangular base that would be around 24+ inches long? I need something that is center to the table but don't want to cut any more holes into ceiling or change wiring. Thanks.
Posted 2013-08-13T10:49:12+0000  by Jenninva1
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