Cheap Easy DIY $100 Work Lights for 20 Bucks!

Introduction: Cheap Easy DIY $100 Work Lights for 20 Bucks!

I needed to light up my basement but didnt want to spend hundreds of dollars on Florecent lights. And retail string lights are way too expensive. So i decided to hack my own $100 string lights. This instructable will show you how to make effective, efficient and reconfigurable work lights! This will provide you with 3 movable lights (one fixed) that plug in to one outlet. All for approximately $19.62; less than that  if you have extension cords and CF bulbs already.

Step 1: Retail Version

 $100 is very expensive!

Step 2:

 All you need are 5 parts!

You can get these in the electrical department of any hardware store. I've found that the plug to light socket adapters take some poking around, but they're there, just keep looking and bugging the staff until you find them.

One four-pack of CF Bulbs ($5.85)
Three indoor extension cords ($5.98, 2.99ea)
Four plug light bulb socket adapters ($5.27, 2.09ea)
One light bulb socket to outlet adapter ($2.52)
TOTAL= $19.62

Step 3: The Bulbs

Strongly recommend you use CF bulbs for low wattage so you don't blow a fuse or overload a circuit. You can have four 14 watt bulbs and still be under a 60 watt bulb drawing only 56 watts. You still produce as much light as 4 standard bulbs running at a combined light output of 240 watts!

Step 4: The First Light Socket to Outlet Adapter

 (Optional) Start with this if you want the lights to turn on with your existing light. Plug this into the switched light socket, screw in a bulb and plug in your first extension cord. Run the cord to the location of your next light.

Step 5: Staring Point

 This is the socket to outlet adapter that the first extension cord plugs into. You can also just plug the first extension cord into a switched outlet. I did it this way just because I already had this light in the ceiling. 

Step 6: Plug in Your Plug to Socket Adapter

 Plug this in to the end of the extension cord you ran in the previous step, then screw in a CF Bulb. You should still have 1 or 2 outlets available for the next length of cord. See next step for my setup.

Step 7: My Setup

 Keep adding cords and lights until you finish.

Step 8: Optional More Rugged and Expensive Basket

 Replace the light duty adapters for each light with this and you can be more confident your lights wont be busted. Hope you enjoyed lighting up your work area on the cheap!

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    8 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Please be careful. This is only for temp install only. I'm a electricial contractor and one of my clients is a fire restoration company. We have to respond in 45 min or less to do what we call a "make safe". 75% of the electricial fires we see are based on unquaified persons install. Have a electrician take a look to insure your safety (PLEASE). Do your own carpentry and you may have a door that sticks, do your own plumbing and you might have a leak. But do your own electricial, you will have a fire.

    That's cool, but HD and maybe L's sell cheap screw on bulb connectors that pierce the wire, and matching 2 wire cable. You can make a string 100 feet long with 10 bulb holders if you want, and just install bulbs where you want, like christmas lights.


    7 years ago on Step 8

    Not bad at all.
    For a bulb guard you can use a suitably sized plastic jar. ie: peanut butter. Cut a hole in the lid for a slip fit of the bulb base. Screw the bulb in the socket through the lid. Punch a few holes in the jar, for ventilation, screw jar into lid.
    Almost forgot, clean jar thoroughly before attempting.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    never seen florescent cost that much go look for a store closing a lot just toss ballasts and fixtures and all you just need the ballasts and the little plastic ends then just bolt to a board or piece of metal and screw it into the joists
    a fixture shouldn't cost more than sak 20-30 dollars if you cant find one on craigs list
    ( the bigger bulbs are better more light)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    If you go shopping 'round x-mas season you can get a artificial Tree light string (Think extension cord with a set of plugs every 2 ft) and presto instant track lighting!


    10 years ago on Step 2

    My math was a little different...

    CFC Bulbs (5.85)
    Extension cords x 3 (2.99 x 3 = 8.97)
    Plug light adapters x 4 (2.09 x 4 = 8.36)
    Light bulb to socket adapter (2.52)
    Total:  $28.70

    Still cheaper then HD purchase but its almost 30% more then your stated total cost.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 2

    tmyckow. I'm willing to bet your map was different too. One of the local hardware stores is usually less expensive than the LowDepot. Of course taxes and travel time are factors too.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Sadly I worked for a manufacturer of these lights and honestly that's exactly how much the 14/2 100' cost.
    Also on a side note always check the UL, because the company I worked for didn't pass.