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  1. #1

    Question Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    The previous homeowner put up three shop lights in the garage as shown in the photo. For each light, a three-conductor power cord is plugged into a gray adapter that eliminates the ground, and the adapter is plugged into another adapter that is screwed into a light socket.

    What's the right fix? Do I need to install three switched outlets in the garage ceiling or is there a simpler solution? Are there rules about the length of a power cord that extends from the shop light to the outlet?

    On the plus side, the garage is nice and bright.
    garage_light.jpg

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hucker View Post
    The previous homeowner put up three shop lights in the garage as shown in the photo. For each light, a three-conductor power cord is plugged into a gray adapter that eliminates the ground, and the adapter is plugged into another adapter that is screwed into a light socket.

    What's the right fix? Do I need to install three switched outlets in the garage ceiling or is there a simpler solution? Are there rules about the length of a power cord that extends from the shop light to the outlet?

    On the plus side, the garage is nice and bright.
    garage_light.jpg
    Swap the light fixture for one with a grounded outlet and throw away the gray adaptor. Of course you have to have a ground wire at the fixture and follow manufacturer instructions/limitations. The length of the power cord is limited to the original cord that came with it, usually 6' or less.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Swap the light fixture for one with a grounded outlet ...
    The receptacle outlet is required to have GFCI (Ground-fault circuit interrupter) protection.

    Instead of swapping the light fixture out, remove the light fixture and replace it with a GFCI receptacle outlet.

    I'm not saying that makes everything right, but it at least takes care of the issue with the way the lights are plugged in.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The receptacle outlet is required to have GFCI (Ground-fault circuit interrupter) protection.

    Instead of swapping the light fixture out, remove the light fixture and replace it with a GFCI receptacle outlet.

    I'm not saying that makes everything right, but it at least takes care of the issue with the way the lights are plugged in.
    Interesting thought. I'd lose the original light, but maybe no one would miss it. But wouldn't an outlet like that -- not readily accessible (on a 9-foot ceiling) and essentially dedicated to a shop light -- be an exception to the GFCI requirement, similar to an exception for a ceiling outlet used for the garage door opener?


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hucker View Post
    But wouldn't an outlet like that -- not readily accessible (on a 9-foot ceiling) and essentially dedicated to a shop light -- be an exception to the GFCI requirement, similar to an exception for a ceiling outlet used for the garage door opener?
    Those exceptions went away a few code editions ago.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Those exceptions went away a few code editions ago.
    Thanks. My guess is that, since those three lights are on the same switch, the second and third already are wired downstream from the first, so I can get one GFCI outlet and two regular outlets -- subject to verifying that wiring, of course.


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Hold on, that light fixture in the picture is resting on the garage door?
    You can do better by screwing those fixtures to the ceiling where you want them, and then run permanent 3-strand wiring to the original light fixtures.

    You can buy 6 foot lengths of flexible sleeve-type conduit at Lowes. At that height, I think your code will allow exposed wiring, but conduit is best.

    At the light box, install a deeper box so that the conduit can enter thru the side. Then install a cover plate there.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    You can do better by screwing those fixtures to the ceiling where you want them, and then run permanent 3-strand wiring to the original light fixtures.
    If those lights are like many 'shop'/'utility' lights, they come with a cord and plug and that is how they are intended to be wired. Removing that code and plug could very well be not in compliance with the listing, labeling, and installation instructions, which means it would be a code violation to do what you describe.

    Depends on the manufacturer's installation instructions and listing and labeling.

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Bob, would it not be more rudimentary to hard wire the proper garage ceiling lighting with an receptacle outlet instead of monkeying with whats there?

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Bob, would it not be more rudimentary to hard wire the proper garage ceiling lighting with an receptacle outlet instead of monkeying with whats there?
    That would be the "correct way" to address the issue.

    That would also be the most expensive and time consuming way - but it would remove the issue "the proper way".


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Jerry, comparatively how much more expensive?
    One would hang the fixture on the garage ceiling and hard wire it directly into the existing ceiling junction box.

    In my opinion, a home owner can successfully archive that project, do all the work safety and properly in a day. That's if they are organized and once they had all the required items.

    Once the fixture is hung they would trace the circuit back to the breaker, disconnect the current, open the junction box, test the circuit for current, attach/terminate the wires on the existing cable/wire/circuit, close the the junction box, and return power the the circuit.

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Jerry, comparatively how much more expensive?
    Comparatively speaking ... at least twice as much, maybe 3-4 times more.

    Price speaking ... not a lot.

    In my opinion, a home owner can successfully archive that project, do all the work safety and properly in a day. That's if they are organized and once they had all the required items.
    I don't make generalizations and opinions on such ... and neither would you if you ever met my son-in-law) ... he can't even figure out how to put a screen in their windows, a screen which fell out on its own (we were up there in Asheville, NC last week, and I am not kidding - that was one of the things our daughter asked me to show him how to do ... and anything more complicated is out of his league (our 11 year old granddaughter can do more than he can, then again, we basically raised her for the first 9 years of her life, so I guess I should expect that from her).

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Yes, I can understand the reasoning behind your decision/s. Making such remarks is unneeded.

    Best.
    Robert

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  14. #14

    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Hold on, that light fixture in the picture is resting on the garage door?

    You can do better by screwing those fixtures to the ceiling where you want them, and then run permanent 3-strand wiring to the original light fixtures.

    You can buy 6 foot lengths of flexible sleeve-type conduit at Lowes. At that height, I think your code will allow exposed wiring, but conduit is best.

    At the light box, install a deeper box so that the conduit can enter thru the side. Then install a cover plate there.
    John, the shop light in the photo is a few inches above the garage door. I see your point about conduit, but it does seem to be a lot of trouble in this case, and I'm wondering where the conduit would terminate in the shop light.

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Bob, would it not be more rudimentary to hard wire the proper garage ceiling lighting with an receptacle outlet instead of monkeying with whats there?
    Robert, there is no need to replace the existing shop light with the one to which you linked; that's just a four-tube fixture similar to the two-tube one that's installed now. I think you're suggesting converting the existing round ceiling box to a junction box by replacing the light fixture with a junction box cover.

    In line with Jerry's comment, I can't see cutting off the power plug on the existing shop light or a new one. When the inevitable ballast failure occurs, instead of just unplugging the light and replacing it, more wiring work would be required. It also seems odd to me, but maybe is allowed, to have the power cord made of stranded wire going into a junction box -- assuming that's what you're suggesting.

    Jerry and Robert, I do know how to do wiring, in case you're wondering. Jerry, I don't have a son-in-law, but don't get me started on some renters.

    An extra nuisance in converting the existing light fixtures to GFCI-protected outlets -- at least for the fixture closest to the panel -- is that the ceiling boxes are round, but GFCIs and the outlet covers that fit over them are for rectangular boxes. If I replaced a round box with a rectangular old-work box, there would be insufficient drywall for the tabs on the old-work box or at least holes to patch in the ceiling on the sides of the rectangular box.

    Jim Luttrall's suggestion seems reasonable, aside from what recent codes say about GFCI protection on all outlets in a garage. Jim's idea solves what I see as the main problem -- the elimination of the ground for the shop light -- and no one here seems too alarmed about the shop light power cord running along the ceiling.

    The code excerpt I read says GFCI protection "for personnel" is needed, leading one poster to suggest that this is a gray area -- assuming that "personnel" are extremely unlikely to unplug a shop light (or maybe a garage door opener or sprinkler controller) from a dedicated outlet on a high ceiling, then plug in an extension cord at the same location and do something to electrocute themselves. If cost were no object, one could make up a justification to require GFCI protection in every outlet in a house. It seems that the code is much more likely to enrich GFCI manufacturers than to prevent a serious accident with a ceiling outlet such as this. Nevertheless, I realize that inspectors' job is to point out code requirements and not necessarily to justify them.


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Bob,

    GFCI protection is for people, versus for equipment.

    The receptacle may or may not have anything plugged in - and what is plugged in may be unplugged, leaving the receptacle open for use for something else.

    Nonetheless, a plugged in garage door operator could ground fault out and be hazardous to people.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    The receptacle outlet is required to have GFCI (Ground-fault circuit interrupter) protection.

    Instead of swapping the light fixture out, remove the light fixture and replace it with a GFCI receptacle outlet.

    I'm not saying that makes everything right, but it at least takes care of the issue with the way the lights are plugged in.
    You can not by code install the GFCI device on the garage ceiling. It would violate the readily accessible rule.


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by jack davenport View Post
    You can not by code install the GFCI device on the garage ceiling. It would violate the readily accessible rule.
    Please provide the code section for that, thank you.

    Added with edit: Found two sections: 210.8 and 422.5(B)

    That is something I had forgotten and missed in my reviews of those sections - thanks for having me look that up.

    That simply means that the receptacle with GFCI protection must have the GFCI device in a readily accessible location, which means that, because most receptacle outlets for garage door operators are on their own circuit, that the GFCI device will either be a GFCI device installed in a box below approximately 6' 7" or be a GFCI breaker in the panel.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 06-21-2017 at 07:17 PM.
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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Jack, maybe a GFI receptacle, but a ceiling receptacle can be GFI protected. Just insure there is a GFI device on the wall is downstream slaving all receptacles upstream in/for that area.

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    ... but a ceiling receptacle can be GFI protected.
    Not "can be" - "is required to be".

    The "can" comes into play as in ... each garage receptacle "can" have its own GFCI protection - except receptacles on the ceiling or high on the wall.

    Versus ... garage receptacles are not "required" to be individually GFCI protected.

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Please provide the code section for that, thank you.

    Added with edit: Found two sections: 210.8 and 422.5(B)

    That is something I had forgotten and missed in my reviews of those sections - thanks for having me look that up.

    That simply means that the receptacle with GFCI protection must have the GFCI device in a readily accessible location, which means that, because most receptacle outlets for garage door operators are on their own circuit, that the GFCI device will either be a GFCI device installed in a box below approximately 6' 7" or be a GFCI breaker in the panel.
    Yep readily accessible means one must not need tools , move things, or climb ladders to access it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Jack, maybe a GFI receptacle, but a ceiling receptacle can be GFI protected. Just insure there is a GFI device on the wall is downstream slaving all receptacles upstream in/for that area.
    I was referring to a GFCI device on the garage ceiling. Yes a standard receptacle on the ceiling is permitted , but as Jerry stated it must be GFCI protected


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Jack, Jerry, slaved receptacles become GFI protected on garage ceilings, if one requires the receptacle to be GFI protected..
    That is what I was referencing.

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Jack, Jerry, slaved receptacles become GFI protected on garage ceilings, if one requires the receptacle to be GFI protected..
    That is what I was referencing.
    Robert,

    We understand that, but you keep saying "can" and "if one requires" ... we are simply pointing out that ALL receptacle outlets in the garage, including on the ceiling, "are required to be" GFCI protected.

    That is what Jack and I are referencing ... "are required" to be GFCI protected - at least down here in the states under the NEC.

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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hucker View Post
    The previous homeowner put up three shop lights in the garage as shown in the photo. For each light, a three-conductor power cord is plugged into a gray adapter that eliminates the ground, and the adapter is plugged into another adapter that is screwed into a light socket.

    What's the right fix? Do I need to install three switched outlets in the garage ceiling or is there a simpler solution? Are there rules about the length of a power cord that extends from the shop light to the outlet?

    On the plus side, the garage is nice and bright.
    garage_light.jpg
    That is a factory made light fixture, so the length of the cord is not a problem. Using the adaptor defeated the ground though. You should us grounded receptacle or hard wire the fixtures.


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    Default Re: Garage shop lights plugged into adapters for light sockets

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Turner View Post
    That is a factory made light fixture, so the length of the cord is not a problem.
    As long as "the length of the cord" is what was supplied with the lighting fixture.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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