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Thread: ridiculously cheap and easy chained lighting

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    ridiculously cheap and easy chained lighting

    I'm sure at some point in this hobby you've had four CFLs screwed into four clamp lights plugged into one power strip plugged into one timer. It gets unwieldy fast. I solved that problem for myself a while back, and while putting together another lighting chain today I realized someone on the forum might find it helpful. It's cheap, easy, and requires NO wire splicing and NO electrical knowledge.

    So, here's what you buy at the hardware store:

    - one cheapo extension cord
    - one light socket (like those below) for each light you intend to use

    Total cost for a four-socket chain: $13.



    First, unscrew the top of a socket. You'll see that there are two channels with metal spikes in them. The way the socket works is that the cord is squished against the spike until it penetrates the rubber sheath and makes contact with the wire threads.



    Second, decide where on the cord you want to put your first light socket. Carefully cut through the center of the extension cord with a knife to separate the two halves. Do your absolute best to keep as much rubber around each wire as possible -- exposing the metal threads could pose a hazard. The cut is long enough if you can fully sit each half of the cord in the socket channels.



    Screw the top back on until it's tight (this is the action that causes the spikes to penetrate). If you intend to use the hanger, you'll probably have to pop it off and put it back properly (above the cord).

    You're done with the first socket.



    Repeat until you're out of sockets. You now have a lighting chain with a single cord to worry about. And since it's still an extension cord, you can plug any additional lights or devices into the end.


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    Thanks for sharing! I never considered making a chain that way before. It definitely beats having to buy fixtures, although I would be worried about making the extension cord support multiple lightbulbs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanukimo View Post
    Thanks for sharing! I never considered making a chain that way before. It definitely beats having to buy fixtures, although I would be worried about making the extension cord support multiple lightbulbs.
    Why? Light bulbs are very low-wattage. Plug a microwave into an extension cord and you're putting 1000 watts through it. You wouldn't even have room on the cord to place enough light sockets to get anywhere near that. The cord is working well below what it's designed for.

    I'd only be concerned if the spikes in these sockets were damaging the wire threads when making their connection, but I suspect they're just pushing it aside.

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    Enthusiastic Enthusiast Zath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonetc View Post
    Why? Light bulbs are very low-wattage. Plug a microwave into an extension cord and you're putting 1000 watts through it. You wouldn't even have room on the cord to place enough light sockets to get anywhere near that. The cord is working well below what it's designed for.

    I'd only be concerned if the spikes in these sockets were damaging the wire threads when making their connection, but I suspect they're just pushing it aside.
    I thought he was talking about wattage too, at first. But I believes he means the weight of the bulbs, and any hoods one might care to use. Finding ways to support lengths of electrified cable over humid containers can be tricky. :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zath View Post
    I thought he was talking about wattage too, at first. But I believes he means the weight of the bulbs, and any hoods one might care to use. Finding ways to support lengths of electrified cable over humid containers can be tricky. :P
    I see. Yes, I usually have to hang these things from metal chains. This particular lighting setup is just sitting on top of a heliamphora tank, bulb to glass.

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    Enthusiastic Enthusiast Zath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbonetc View Post
    I see. Yes, I usually have to hang these things from metal chains. This particular lighting setup is just sitting on top of a heliamphora tank, bulb to glass.
    Do you have a pair of sunglasses hanging on the doorframe of this room? :P

    When I get more tanks set up, I may transition to something like this, but I'll still be using hoods. I couldn't justify all that wasted light from a bare bulb, lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zath View Post
    Do you have a pair of sunglasses hanging on the doorframe of this room? :P

    When I get more tanks set up, I may transition to something like this, but I'll still be using hoods. I couldn't justify all that wasted light from a bare bulb, lol.
    They're directional LEDs as pictured. I can move a plant six inches over and it goes from sunny day to cloudy day.
    Last edited by carbonetc; 06-09-2014 at 12:26 PM.

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    Enthusiastic Enthusiast Zath's Avatar
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    Whoop, you're right. Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. They're already kind of directional, aren't they?

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