I'd like to attach 8-10 lamp bases to the wall where a 12-foot valance
will act as a shade. The lamps/cords won't be seen. I saw plastic
lamp bases (at the BORG) with dual terminals where you can screw in
lamp cord, and the lampbase has two screw holes for mounting. When
screwed down, the connections are not exposed. Do I need an
electrical box for this kind of lamp socket? It would be screwed
onto drywall or painted wood. Also, I'd like to know how close a
60w. bulb can (legally/safely) be to a painted wooden surface.
It sounds as though you will be using portable lamp cord for a permanent
installation. Not good or permissible.
The correct way to do this is by using cable approved for this use such as
Romex or BX going into 4" octagon boxes and using keyless lamp sockets to
screw your bulbs into.
600 watts is a lot of heat. Can you substitute compact fluorescents?
The sockets he is proposing are fine- using zip cord to wire them is not.
I've seen socket strings like that used in barns, 4-H carnivals, etc, for
forty years. Can't remember the proper name, but the stranded stuff on rolls
of the right gauge is what I usually see used with those. Ends up looking
sorta like Knob and Tube. Slightly smaller candelabra-base versions can be
found in the boxed-in area of most of those 3-door medicine cabinets with
the lights on top.
But, having said that- 8 or 10 bulbs over a 12-foot run, using 60 watt
bulbs, is massive overkill, and likely to start a fire from heating whatever
is close. No idea what code says, but I never put a regular bulb closer
than six inches or so to any surface. Try grabbing the U-shaped thing that
holds the lampshade on a table lamp, or the shade on a drop light, sometime-
anything near bulb gets HOT. Valance implies drapes. Can't see the room from
here, but this sounds like the type of application where low-volt halogen
pucks, or maybe even rope lights, would work well. In the late 50s -early
60s, a common living room light was a blond wood valance over the top of the
curtains, about 8-10 inches tall, with single-tube florescent fixtures
pointed UP, to bounce off the white ceiling. Sounds hokey now, but with
1950s modern furniture and decor, it worked. You couldn't see the bulbs, but
it provided nice indirect light.
In addition to what John just wrote, did you stop to think how you were
going to avoid crushing the lamp cord when you screwed those sockets to
And what were you planning to use for a switch to turn them on and off?
I'm no code mavin, but I'm not sure the kind of permanant setup you're
describing could be legally connected to a power source by just plugging
a cord into a wall outlet either.
You might want to look into Wiremold products to SAFELY get the job
done. The stuff pictured on this page will show you the possibilities
and it includes bases for the kinds of sockets you mentioned.
I agree, Wiremold or similar would be a better way than barn/carnival style
surface mount exposed wiring. But what he is talking about does exist. See
http://www.doityourself.com/invt/u244715 for an example. Notice the notches
in the side for the 2 strands of wire. This is definitely 1930s tech, IMHO.
My house was filled with those ceramic sockets. The previous owner must
have loved them, strange since the place was built in the 1959 - well after
I'm sure they were allowed by code. The one in the garage was particularly
interesting - he used it for the the overhead light, where he screwed a
socket splitter into it and then populated the socket splitter with 2 100
Watt bulbs. I'm amazed the house wasn't burned down by the time I bought
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