Lighting a Closet With Holiday Lights

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Introduction: Lighting a Closet With Holiday Lights

Got any unused holiday light strings and a closet that doesn't have a built-in light (as is often the case in older homes)? Have too many shadows in your closet? Those LED push lights from the dollar store don't cut it? I'm showing a way I lit up a dark closet with unused light strings. I could do the same with LED light strings as described in another Instructable, but I wanted to use some spare light strings. Since the lights are only on sparingly, the amount of electricity used with LED or incandescent lights is negligible.

Step 1: Install Hooks (drive Rings)

The hardest part was to get special hooks to secure the lights in case I wanted to change or remove them. The hardware store is likely to carry plastic clip hooks for supporting cable, but I opted for drive rings (left ring in picture) so I can remove the lights. A few places provide the rings online for low prices (another variety is the bridle ring, which can be screwed on). Hammering the 1/2" drive rings shook my closet jamb and I was worried about it separating from the wall, so I cut the rings down with a Dremel (right ring in picture) and pre-drilled holes on the jamb inside to push in 9 rings on the inside of the closet (3 across top and 4 on each side).

Step 2: Install Switch

I found this nifty plastic switch at the hardware store and installed it on the common side of the wires. The common wire in a three-wire string runs from the plug and only connects to 2 or 3 lights (three-wire strings use a combination of parallel and serial connections so one burned out light doesn't affect the whole string). The switch can be installed on either wire of a two-wire string (which are found on older lights), but I recommend getting a three-wire string so you rarely have to worry about replacing bulbs. The switch was fixed to the wall by driving a screw through the bottom plate (without touching connections) of the switch.

Step 3: Reinforcement From Hooks (drive Rings)

After wrapping the lights around the inside of jamb, I added extra protection from the corner rings by covering the wire in short pieces of unshrunk heat-shrink tubing (sliced lengthwise and slipped over the wires).

As a closet without an original light is unlikely to have an outlet, I put a hole in the wall and ran an extension cord (made from lamp wire and plugs) from the light string to an outside outlet. Now my wife and I appreciate having nicely-lit closets!

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    4 Discussions

    Hi and sorry for the delay. The switch is a simple oval plastic one obtainable from the hardware store, though the exact shape can vary. The switch was wired by running one of the light wires as a bypass through the available channel and connecting the other wire to the contacts. Since the switch is plastic and has no attached holes, I just ran a screw through the bottom and into the wall (make sure power is off first and the screw doesn't cut into any wires). Thanks for asking!

    Nice way to avoid shadows. Your daughter will like a closet like that in ten years !

    When you move to a new home just pull the wire back through the hole.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the feedback. The wire runs behind a bed to an outlet, so that helps. I'd like to have a dedicated supply in the closet at some point, though.