I love an outdoor dinner party and learning how to rewire a chandelier has been a game changer. You won’t believe how easy it is!
This is such a simple project that you’ll be mad that you waited so long to do it! When all is said and done, the hardware to rewire a chandelier costs $2.50-$3.50 depending on if it has a ground wire or not.
Then, there’s just the cost of the chandelier. That can obviously range depending on how good of a deal you find, but it can be quite inexpensive, and can even be free!
Find a chandelier to rewire
Find a chandelier at a garage sale:
The first time I did this project, I happened upon a sort of ugly chandelier that had really good bones at a garage sale for $40. There was no way I was spending that much, but I thought I might be able to talk her down and then talk my hubby into doing this project for me. My daughter’s 13th birthday was coming up and I wanted something spectacular for her dinner al fresco.
They accepted my offer of $20 and my sweet husband was able to pretty easily rewire the chandelier. Unfortunately, the way Ryan did it was to use an old extension cord and piggy back the wiring into the chandelier. It totally worked, but I would not recommend doing it this way. I don’t think it’s a fire hazard, but it looks a little janky.
It worked for home use and the girls had a wonderful night!!! Please don’t mind the grainy iPhone pictures!
We went on to use it in the huge tent we had for our son’s graduation and it was stunning. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off that day so I didn’t get any photos of that one. But it added so much class to the tent and made it seem quite fancy!
Side of the road finds:
The second time I rewired a chandelier was this year. I was driving down the road and wouldn’t you know that I saw a chandelier with bulbs in it just laying in the garbage?! I figured that if it didn’t work after I rewired it, I’d just throw it in my own garbage and I would only be out $2.50. But it worked!!!!!
If you’re on the lookout, you just might find something on trash day. Make sure you look at the bones and not the color OR the lamp shades. Look beyond that to what it could be. Vision to see beyond is crucial!
Can you believe someone was just throwing this little beauty out!?
Resale or online options for chandeliers:
Resale and online are probably the best possibilities for most people. It’s more likely you’ll be able to purchase one quickly. I found my final chandelier at Salvation Army. ReStore is also an amazing place to find chandeliers. They have a ton of building type materials at their stores.
I also did a quick scroll on Facebook Marketplace and there were so many options near me! Craigslist and Offer Up are great choices too. The best thing about Offer Up is that they send you a notification any time someone lists an item that you’ve been searching for!
The one benefit of buying resale is that they are likely to take it back if you purchase it and it doesn’t work. I haven’t had that happen yet, but it might and that’s good to have in your back pocket.
This chandelier I got for $6 at Salvation Army. They had been asking $13, but it was more elaborate and one of the upper arms was broken. I got it for less than half price and took it home and removed the upper arms, added greenery, rewired it, and it was perfect.
I may spray paint the whole thing black to match the others, but for now, it works great.
Make the chandelier pretty!
Now is the time to make any modifications to your chandelier. With the first one I purchased from a garage sale, I removed the shades and ordered Edison Bulbs instead of using traditional bulbs. I thought it gave it a better look since the bulbs were going to be exposed when the shades were removed.
I also painted that one. It was a super ugly brown, so I used a hammered metallic spray paint to give it a fresh new look. I hung it on a garden hook I had and that made it very easy to paint all the way around it at once.
I also took toilet paper and stuffed it into the light bulb holes to make sure no paint got onto the contacts for the bulbs. It’s super easy because when the paint is still wet, you can just pop them out, so the paint doesn’t dry and and cement the toilet paper into the light bulb holes!
How to Rewire a Chandelier
Once the chandelier looks how you want it to look, the rewiring takes about 5-10 minutes. I’m not joking! It’s so fast! I’ve included a video of my hubby rewiring a chandelier using a 2 prong plug. I purchased this from Amazon for $2.39. It was such a steal!
If the chandelier has a third cable, or a ground wire, you can purchase a 3 prong plug. I also purchased that from Amazon for $3.29. I literally cannot believe how cheap and easy it it to rewire a chandelier! If you do have the third uncoated wire, just order this 3 prong plug and follow the addendum at the end of the instructions.
Step by Step Instructions on how to Rewire a Chandelier
Decide if you’d like to keep the upper housing on the chandelier. Usually there is a part that you screw into the ceiling. This part is kind of nice to give you a firm way to attach it to a tree or to wrap the extension cord around. However, if the branch you’re using is very high, some people might not like the look of that piece just dangling there.
We decided to keep ours on and it didn’t bother me, even though I’m a perfectionist. My concern was that there was nothing to attach the extension cord to, so you can’t really have a chandelier dangling from an extension cord without attaching it to something.
On the other hand, if your tree branch is low, or if you’re putting it inside and attaching it to a cup hook in the ceiling, then removing it would work just fine.
Make sure you have fresh wire ends. You may be in luck and just have fresh wire. But if the chandelier was in use before, you will probably need to expose fresh connections.
To do that, simply use wire strippers and cut the sheath surrounding the wire. Then slide it off. Then just cut the end of the wire to leave about 1/2″ of nice new wire. I tend to spin this a little if it’s a compilation of little wires to make sure they are all in a nice, tight grouping.
Once you have the wire stripped, use a screwdriver to push the little yellow piece out that says REMOVE. Once that is done, the two prongs should fall out as well.
Loosen the screws on each of the prongs. Don’t take them completely out. Just loosen them enough so that the thickness of the wire can slip in there.
Slide both wires through the bottom of the plug and out the top. We got all the way to the end and realized we had not done this and had to take it all apart and redo it! So don’t skip this step!
Slide the exposed wire through the bottom slot on one of the prongs and then use your fingers or needle nose pliers to make the wire into a C shape. Hook the wire around the shaft of the screw. Then use a screwdriver to tighten the screw and secure the wire.
It doesn’t matter what wire you put on which prong if you’re using the 2 prong plug. Either way you do it will be fine and will complete the circuit.
Once you have attached the wires to the prongs and tightened the screw to secure it, slide the prongs back into place. Then add the piece back in that says REMOVE. Make sure it fits nice and tightly.
When we did this, we did have to maneuver it around to make sure that it all fit back in snugly.
Plug it in and admire your work! Can you believe you did that? You’re basically an electrician!
MODIFICATIONS FOR THE 3 PRONG PLUG WHEN REWIRING A CHANDELIER
There are just a few modifications if you are using the 3 prong plug. The first is that you don’t push a REMOVE piece out. Instead, you unscrew it and the entire housing comes out in one piece (which is actually way easier!)
Secondly, the bare wire that is the ground wire will be attached to the round prong. That’s it! The other two coated wires still get wrapped around the prongs on each side. Once you’re done attaching all 3, just slide it back into the housing and tighten the screw!
How to hang your rewired chandelier
This first chandelier had a VERY short section of wire at the top. Since the plug was so close to the top, I decided to use zip ties to attach it to the branch. I would totally recommend black, but I only had these white ones on hand.
After I attached them, I just clipped the ends of the zip ties and it worked perfectly.
This long cord is my favorite because it gives you so many options. I saw that it had a ton of wiring, so I didn’t cut it down and just put the plug at the end of the long wires. That way, I was able to wrap the chandelier wires around the tree branch to keep it tightly in place.
Then I just attached a black extension cord to that and wound it around the branch and the trunk of the tree. It really blended right in.
So what do you think? Can you tackle this project!? I think you can!