Learning, Wiring,

How to Wire a Lamp with Multiple Bulbs (7-Step Guide)

Many table and floor lamps have multiple bulbs or bulb sockets. It isn’t difficult to wire such bulbs when provided with clear and detailed instructions. When compared to single-bulb lamps, multiple-bulb lamps are more difficult to wire. 

Quick Summary: Wiring a lamp with multiple bulbs only takes a few minutes. To do it, uninstall the wiring and remove the old lamp and install the replacement zip cords. You should make sure one cord is longer than the other two (you need three cords). Next, run the longer cord via the lamp base, and thread the shorter ones into the sockets. Now wire the ports, and connect the lamp to the socket by making the appropriate neutral and hot connections. You can then start the plug cord installation by connecting the socket and lamp cords. Then test the bulbs after assembling the light bulb ports into their outer shells. Finally, connect the lamp.

What do I need to wire a lamp with several bulbs?

In this guide, you will need:

  • Wire strippers
  • Pliers
  • A zip cord of a considerable length
  • Testers
  • Utility knife

Wiring a Lamp with Multiple Bulbs

You can install a lamp with multiple bulbs in your light fixture with ease.

Step 1: Uninstall the Wiring and Detach the Lamp

capping off the wire on the lamp

To disassemble the lamp and the wires, unplug the old lamp and remove its shade. Pop off the wire caps from their connection points.

Go ahead and remove the outer shells of the bulb sockets until you see the inner metallic sockets and the wire connections.

Next, detach the wires and then remove all of them. This includes the main lamp cord that runs through the base of the lamp and the two short cords that lead to the sockets.

Step 2: Install the Replacement Light Cord

Get ready and install the new lamp cord. Cut three zip cords, the main cord should be long because you will run it through the base section of the lamp to the plug. The length will depend on your situation.

As for the other two cords, make them short, but they should reach the center wire housing at the base of the lamp from their socket connection points.

Split the wire ends along the center seam of the zip cord to obtain two separate halves – approximately two inches long. To do that, pull the cords apart with your hands, or use a utility knife.

stripping the wire off

Strip off the insulation coating at the terminals of the wire to about ¾ of an inch. You can use a combination tool or a wire stripper to do that. (1)

Step 3: Connect the Cables

Run the cords (you have just prepared) via the lamp. Thread the longer cord through the lamp’s base, and then the shorter ones through the channels of the socket.

As you run the cords, be cautious to avoid kinks and bindings on the zip cords. The process will take some time but be patient, and proceed carefully. You may use a pair of needle-nose pliers to grab the wire ends as soon as they appear.

Step 4: Wiring the Ports

wiring ports of a lamp

It is time to connect the short cords to the ports or the sockets. To identify the neutral wire, trace the length of the wires, the neutral wires are marked with ridges on the insulation coating. You will feel the small ridges.

Next, connect the neutral half (cord) to the ground – silver-colored metal screw on the metal socket. Go ahead and loop the braided wire counter-clockwise around the ground screws. Tighten the screw connections.

Now connect the hot wire (wires with smoother insulation coating) to the copper-colored screw terminal on the port.

Step 5: Start Installing the Plug         

Start the installation process by attaching the socket cords to the lamp cord. Join the three neutral wires at the center wire connection housing.

installing plug

Twist the wires together, and drive a wire nut over the bare ends of the wires.  Follow the same procedure to attach the hot wires to the lamp cord. Note that hot wires have a smooth coating. Now you have connected the hot and neutral wires to the sockets.

You can now install the new plug. To attach the new cord plug, remove its core first, and then insert the terminal of the lamp cord via the outer plug jacket.

Next, attach the wires to the terminals of the screw on the plug core.

For a polarized core, the blades will have different widths. This will enable the user to detect the neutral and the hot terminals. Link the neutral half of the lamp cord to the larger blade and the hot lamp cord to the hot screw terminal with a smaller blade.

polarized wire core

If the new lamp plugs are not polarised, which is often the case, it won’t matter which wire goes where – connect the lamp plugs to any blade. In such situations, the plug blades will be of the same size (width).

Finally, snap the core into the plug to the jacket. Your lamp installation is now complete. Proceed to the testing process.

Step 6: Testing

Gather the light bulb ports/sockets into their outer shells, and then twist the shells back into the lamp. At this point, verify if the bulbs are lighting properly by plugging in the lamp. (2)

Step 7: Connect the Light

After testing bulbs, connect the light as follows:

  • Unplug your lamp
  • Twist the wire cap on the wire connector housing into place
  • Assemble all the parts
  • Reconnect the lamp shade

You are good to go!

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) insulation coating – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/
(2) lamp – https://nymag.com/strategist/article/the-best-floor-lamps.html

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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