How To Add A Pull Chain To A Light Fixture (Do This!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Did you ever have a ceiling fan that is just too hard to reach with the way it’s been made? A high ceiling or having the misfortune of a mismeasured fixture can make this a problem you need to deal with on a daily basis. If you want to add some convenience to your home, adding a pull chain can be a quick fix for it. But, how do you do it?

To add a pull chain to a light fixture, follow these steps:

  • Drill a hole at the base of the light, and add the chain to the hole. 
  • Finish installing the switch and secure it with a nut. 
  • Remove the cover and secure the black wires in the switch together, then do the wiring.
  • Put your switch cover back. 

Adding a pull chain to a light fixture is a little bit daunting, as it should be. It’s electrician work! But, if you are willing to give this project a shot, it might be a good way to add some convenience to your interior design.

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Add A Pull Chain To Your Light Fixture: Step By Step

We may have gone over the basics of this project, but the truth is that there are more details to this project than meets the eye. Let’s talk about each step.

Step 1: Drilling Your Hole

The first thing you are going to have to do is buy a pull chain light switch kit from a hardware store.

Then, you’re going to have to figure out where you want the switch to be. It’s often best to choose an area that’s easy to access and not too close to the rim of the fixture, and that isn’t too far down to make your chain look awkward.

If you are going to be adding this chain to a ceiling fan, it may make more sense to remove the fixture from the ceiling. However, this isn’t necessary in many cases. It’s your call.

When you drill a hole in the fixture, choose a drill bit that’s big enough to fit both your chain and the nut that will secure it in place. Drill the hole, and then string your chain through it.

Step 2: Secure The Switch

Did you already push your chain through your newly drilled hole? Great. Now, it’s time to take the next step. Your pull chain switch should have come with a nut as part of it. Use this nut to secure the switch inside of your lamp.

Step 3: Remove The Faceplate And Work With The Wiring

Now that you have the pull chain set in place, it’s time to do the electrical work. If you removed the fixture from the ceiling, this might not be necessary. However, if you can’t reach the wires, you need to get the faceplate off. Here’s how to do it all, step by step:

  • Grab a screwdriver and remove the faceplate of your fixture. The wiring should be exposed. Make sure you have wiring caps to do the next step. Set the screws aside.
  • Tie the black power wires from the light fixture to the black wires of the switch. Cap it using one of the wire nuts that came with your kit.
  • Twist the white power wire from the fan around/on the white wire that came with your switch. To keep them secured together, secure them with your wire caps.
  • Once the fixture’s wires are now attached to your switch, pull the cord to see if it works. It should. If it doesn’t, work on getting a better connection with the wires before you proceed to the next step.

Step 4: Reattach The Faceplate

Once the entire fixture and switch setup has been installed and wired up, you can use a screwdriver to reattach the faceplate. From there, you can reattach the fixture on the ceiling if you removed it.

Why Don’t Some Light Fixtures Come With Pull Chains?

It’s all a matter of the designer’s choice. Pull chains are very convenient, but with some light fixtures, they can look fairly archaic. Many designers simply see a pull chain as more of an extra than a must. Since designers tend to go for looks more than convenience, they might choose to omit them as a policy of theirs.

Can You Customize Your Pull Chain?

Yes! If you choose a kit that has a detachable chain, you can actually pull the ball of the chain’s bottom off. From there, you can pick a more elegant chain that you can switch out. It’s no different than connecting a bracelet or a child’s ball-and-joint necklace. Pull chain modifiers are pretty cheap online, even if you have expensive taste.

How Long Should A Pull Chain Be?

The length of a pull chain should vary depending on how easy it is to reach the chain. If you are installing a pull chain on a table lamp, the pull chain should probably be between eight to 12 inches. On the other hand, if you are adding the chain to a ceiling fixture, a three-foot pull chain makes a lot more sense.

There are no real rules on the length of a lamp’s pull chain, simply because each situation is going to be different. It’s best to use your own judgment on this call. It’s worth noting that you can cut the pull chain to the length you need, so if you are worried about having a chain that’s too long, don’t be. It’s an easy fix that can be done in a matter of minutes.

Can Adding A Pull Chain Switch To Your Light Save You Money?

While most people who add pull chains to their light fixtures do so out of a need for convenience, that’s not the only reason why they choose to do it. Many homes have multiple light fixtures that are powered by a single switch on the wall. By adding a pull chain switch to your fixture, you give yourself a way to control that fixture exclusively.

Since you won’t have to keep all your light fixtures on at the same time if they all have pull chains, you can cut your electricity usage significantly. While the monthly savings might be small, it is still a great step in the right direction. After all, energy always gets more expensive, so any way you can find to cut down on its usage can be a smart choice.

How Much Would It Cost To Get An Electrician To Install A Pull Chain On A Light Fixture?

Calling the same guy who fixes dim lights when the AC is on will always be pricey. Thankfully, this is a relatively affordable choice. If you can find a handyman or electrical who is willing to do it, you should expect to pay around $50 for a professional pull chain switch installation on your light fixture.

Is Hiring A Professional To Add A Pull Chain Necessary?

Whether or not you should hire a pro to add a pull chain depends on you, your personal DIY skills, as well as the confidence that you have in your skills. If you have done electrical work before, or are working with a metal lamp, most of the time, you can do it on your own. Trying to add a pull chain switch to an antique, porcelain, or glass isn’t as easy.

If you are trying to modify a light fixture that is delicate, unique, or high-priced, hiring someone else to do it is a good idea. A good rule of thumb is that you should call in a professional whenever you feel like you are not qualified for the job, or when you’re working with a fixture that could be too pricey to replace otherwise.

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Related Questions

Can you add a pull switch to any light?

The general consensus is yes. If a light has a typical setup or is a ceiling light, it’s fairly safe to assume that you can install a pull switch on it. While it may look clunky or awkward with some fixtures, it’s almost always an option.

What’s the difference between a one-way and two-way pull switch?

A one-way pull switch is just a typical, everyday “On/Off” switch. If you pull the cord once, it’s on. Pull it again, it’s off. No other switches or lighting source controls an object that has a one-way pull switch.With a two-way pull switch, there will be more than one way to control the flow of electricity to the instrument in mind. Usually, the second way is through a wall switch, but sometimes there will be other options.

How long does it take to add a pull chain to a ceiling light?

Considering how much money and convenience it can offer up, a pull switch installation on the right light fixture is a worthwhile project. Surprisingly enough, adding a pull chain to a ceiling light doesn’t take much time. Even amateurs can usually get the job done within one to two hours.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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