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


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    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

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    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.