How to Wire a Light Socket in 10 Easy Steps

There are some things that everyone should know:  how to change a flat tire, how to shake someone's hand, how to pick out a good watermelon, how to open a bottle with an f/POP and how to wire a light socket. 

Important Safety Note: Make sure everything is unplugged from any sort of power source. Don't be a dumb dumb. 
Disclaimer: I am not an electrician.  

Tools For the Job

Sharp Scissors

Wire Stripper

Utility Knife

Flat/Phillips Screwdriver

Electrical Tape

Step 1: Cut wire to desired length

Using the scissors cut the wire to whatever length you need and then add 6 inches to it. I cut my wire to 12 feet. I wanted to make sure I had enough wire to reach a wall outlet. 

Step 2: Dissemble Light Socket

There are a few pieces you have to unscrew. Don't confuse them and don't loose them. 


Disassemble your socket into its pieces: the cap, the interior, and the shell. The cap is the part where the wire exits the socket; the interior is the part with the screws where you attach the wire and that has the place where the bulb is screwed in; and the shell is the part that attaches to the cap to enclose the interior.

Step 3: Cut away 1'' of Outer cotton layer of wire

Remove 1" of cloth on the end of the wire.  Unravel the cotton or rayon, snipping it away incrementally using the finest scissors you have. 

Be very careful not to cut into the inner plastic layer beneath the cloth. If you do, game over. Just kidding. You'll just have to cut off that piece and start again. 

Step 4: self-fusing silicone tape to wrap edges of cotton

Using the tape to wrap the outer edges of the cotton wire will make sure that it doesn't continue unraveling. Think of it like a loose strand on a sweater, once you start pulling it keeps going and going. 

Step 5: Remove Plastic Cover to Expose Copper Wire

Using your wire stripper gage you'll want to remove the plastic layer to expose the copper wire. 

Pick the correct size gage on the wire stripper and clamp on to the wire a little less than 1" down from the end. 

While clamped on, squeeze handle and pull up to remove plastic layer.

Be carful not to cut into the copper wire. Once wire is exposed make sure there are no loose strands of copper. 

Twist the exposed ends of the copper wire in a clockwise motion to tighten up loose ends. 

Step 6: IMPORTANT! Identify "Hot Wire" and Neutral Wire"

This is the part you do not want to screw up. If you do you risk the chance of getting zapped. No Bueno. 

The hot wire carries the electricity to to the socket and is attached to the hot side of the socket. 

The Neutral wire acts like a ground wire and is attached to the neutral side of the socket. 

***WAYS TO IDENTIFY WHICH WIRE IS WHICH***

Hot Wires: 

A black outer protective plastic
The copper wire is smooth
There is no stripe on the plastic part of the wire - it's plain. 

Neutral Wires: 

A white protective plastic
The copper wire is ribbed
Stripe on the plastic part of the wire - white stripe is shown. 

Step 7: IMPORTANT! Identify "Hot" and "Neutral" Side of Socket

There is a hot and neutral side to a socket where you will attach the hot wire to the hot side of socket and the neutral wire to the neutral side of socket.

***WAYS TO IDENTIFY HOT & NEUTRAL SIDE OF SOCKET***

Hot Side of Socket:  Hot side of socket will have a gold colored screw

Neutral Side of Socket:  Neutral side of socket will have a silver colored screw

Step 8: Attach Hot Wire to Hot Side of Socket and Attach Neutral Wire to Neutral Side of Socket

Once you've identified which side is which (See step 7 and 8) you can now hook the wires to the socket. 

Take the hot wire and loop the copper part around the gold screw of the socket. 

Tighten down on the gold screw with screw driver until the screw is firmly pressed down on the wire. 

Take the neutral wire and loop the copper part around the silver screw of the socket. 

Tighten down on the silver screw with screw driver until the screw is firmly pressed down on the wire. 

Step 9: Tie Underwriter's Knot in the Wire

These took my 400 hundred tries.

Best way is to make two loops and then pass the end of each wire through the opposite loop.

The knot helps keep the wires connected to the socket even with some weight applied to the socket.

Step 10: Reassemble Light Socket

Feed the socket parts from the opposite end of the wire.  Put the socket shell over the socket interior and attach it to the socket cap. 

Congratulations. You're on your way of becoming an electrician. No crack open a beer with your f/POP and reward yourself from all your hard work.