Introduction: Black Pipe Ceiling Light
We recently moved into a new house and I was looking for a new ceiling light for my home office. I wanted something made of black pipe, but found I could make one myself for one-third the price of what I was finding from stores. The benefit of using black pipe is that you can customize to exactly what is desired, coming up with a whole new design or modifying one you see somewhere else.
Make sure you have a basic understanding of how to wire a light, or consult with someone who does.
- 8” of 1/2” black pipe, qty 9
- 2” of 1/2” black pipe nipple, qty 1
- 6-way (double cross) 1/2”, qty 1
- 5-way 1/2”, qty 1
- 1 1/4” to 1/2” reducer, qty 8
- 3/4” to 1/2” bushing, qty 1
- 1” to 3/4” bushing, qty 1
- 1” floor flange, qty 1
- Black weatherproof light socket, qty 8
- At least 16’ of 16 gauge stranded wire, need two colors of that length (prefer white and black)
- 8" of 10 gauge stranded wire, need two colors of that length (prefer white and black)
- Circular electrical box
- 8-32 1" screws, qty 6
- LED bulbs of your choice, qty 8
- Heath shrink tubing
- Paint (optional)
- Paintbrush (optional)
Step 1: Clean and Assemble
The black pipe will come with some lubricant left on it. This is left over from when the threads were machine cut. You'll want to clean this off to avoid any grease getting on you, your clothes, or causing problems with painting. I used liquid dish soap and a sponge to scrub off the grease, and then dried right away to prevent any water spots.
For ease of wiring, you want to assemble the light in three sections. These will be the down rod, top cross, and bottom cross.
The down rod uses the floor flange, both of your bushings, and one pipe. The top cross uses four pipes, four reducers, the 6-way fitting, and 2" nipple. The bottom cross uses four pipes, four reducers, and a 5-way fitting.
Tighten each piece to a uniform distance, so you have a consistent length from each section.
Step 2: Wiring
For the selected light sockets and pipe, your wires need to be cut 24" long. Cut eight of each color. Be sure you are consistent with what color wiring connects to the corresponding wire on your sockets.
Since I plan on using LED bulbs, I used 16 gauge stranded wire.
After removing the insulation from the end, I used heat shrink tubing to secure the wires. If you don't have a heat gun, a lighter will do. It needs to be hot enough to shrink the tubing and melt the adhesive on the inside of the tubing. A hair dryer won't get hot enough to melt the adhesive, even if it shrinks the tubing.
Step 3: Paint
I chose to use a hammered black paint for my pipe. This is already on the pipe frame for a stand up desk I made a few years ago.
The paint was applied with a 1" chip brush, which are sturdy enough for this thick paint. You do NOT want to use a sponge brush, as it will get weighed down too quickly, fall apart, and you'll be picking sponge pieces out of your paint.
Be sure to follow the directions on the paint you choose.
For the circular electrical box, I used the attach screws to connect the top and base so I could paint over the screw heads. My reason for using this box was to ensure you couldn't see the electrical box in the ceiling after the light was in place.
NOTE: Be sure you don't paint over the threads where you need to attach the sections. You will need to paint those areas after attaching all three sections.
Step 4: Assembly
To make it easier with all the wires, I recommend assembling in the following order.
First, run the wiring for the bottom cross. I used a small pair of needle nose pliers to pull the wiring through. The light fixtures fit snug in the 1-1/4" end of the reducer. You shouldn't need to use any glue to keep them in place. It's a perfect fit!
Second, run the wiring for the top cross. Again, use needle nose pliers to help pull the wiring through.
Now to attach both cross sections. Feed the wiring from the bottom cross through the center of the top cross. I recommend you try and keep those wires together, even if you have to feed them through one at a time. It makes it easier for the next part.
Slowly attach the top and bottom cross. Don't turn too quickly or you could pull apart your wiring. Move the wires around as necessary to avoid them getting twisted too tightly.
Now feed the wires through the down rod section.
For ease of attaching the fixture to electrical in the ceiling, I connected the 16 gauge wires to 10 gauge stranded wire, with some heat shrink tubing over the connection.
Remember how you didn't paint where the pieces go together? Now it's time to touch up those areas.
Step 5: Mount to Ceiling
Unless you live alone, be sure to tape the light switch in the off position so someone doesn't try and turn it on while you are working! If you want an extra step of safety, turn off the circuit breaker to the switch.
Remove the old light and be sure to save any screws.
I first attached the circular electrical box used two of my 8-32 1" screws. Then, with the ladder in place under the box, I brought the light up. As you can see in the image, I rested the light on some boxes to bring the wires in range for connecting. This was much easier than trying to hold the light up with one hand and connect the wires with the other.
Once you have the wires connected, put in one bulb and test the light.
For the final mounting of the light to the ceiling, I used four 8-32 1" screws through each of the four holes on the floor flange. This is another reason I used a 1" floor flange, as the holes line up perfectly with the mounting holes on the circular electrical box.
For bulbs, I used 5 watt dimmable LEDs. With so much light output, I may want to put a dimmer switch on this!
Step 6: Enjoy the Brightness
With your light installed and ready to go, just turn on the switch and enjoy your creation!
You can customize this even more with fancier Edison bulbs or some light cages.