How Can I Convert US Light Fittings To UK Specifications?

Do you have some unique light fittings from the US, and wonder if you can use them in the UK? Can they be converted without too much hassle?

If you wish, it is possible to convert US light fittings to UK specifications. According to the bulbs you wish to use, you may have to switch to a B22 or an Eddison light fitting. The wiring will be different, so you will need to replace it, which is pretty straightforward.


Can you rewire a US lamp to the UK?

Yes, you may need a little help, and any decent lighting store should be able to help you out. The main thing to look out for is to swap to UK wires, and if the light fitting has metal, you need to make sure it’s earthed.

You will need to fit a 240 volt light fitting. The US uses 120 volts with a variance of ± 6%, which will not work in the UK.

If it’s a lamp, you will need to fit a 3 pin plug before you are ready to go.

Are light fixtures universal?

The way you fix the light to the ceiling is pretty much the same wherever you are, but what changes are the voltage and the earth requirements.

If you have a light fitting designed and manufactured to be used outside of the UK, you will not be able to fit it in your home and expect it to work.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to swap the wiring, so there is no confusion about which is live and neutral at a later date.

If your light fitting has any conductive material in its construction, earth the light fitting to avoid any nasty surprises like an electric shock.

If you are unsure, use a qualified electrician to fit your new light fitting for you. This way, you have peace of mind.

Will US chandeliers work in the UK?

They will need some rework. A chandelier will undoubtedly have some metal in the construction to support its weight (a light fitting with weight to it needs to comply with wiring laws and fitting procedures in the UK).

Your chandelier will almost certainly need to be rewired and earthed to comply with wiring standards in the UK.

The bulb fittings will need to be changed even if the Edison bulbs are available in the UK. The writing strands will be of different diameters and may not be suitable for 240 volts.

Can I use US light bulbs in The UK?

In all probability, they will work, but for the small cost of bulbs, it’s easier to buy new bulbs and be safe.

The diameter of the connecting wires will be different in the US, so it is advised to get the whole light fixture rewired and made safe for a higher voltage and comply with UK wiring laws.

How much does it cost to rewire a lamp?

You can expect to pay around 1-hour labour, the flex’s price and a new bulb fitting, which should come to approximately 50 pounds.

Can I rewire a lamp myself?

Yes, the process is simple.

  • Snip the wiring from the existing lamp carefully and remove the light fitting.
  • Unscrew the base of the light fitting and note the position of the wires before unscrewing
  • Take your new flex and thread through the lamp, ensuring you have enough flex to reach your desired outlet socket.
  • Replace the light bulb fitting
  • Fit a 3 pin plug.

It is as simple as that, and most DIY folks can manage a simple rewire of a lamp.

When rewiring a lamp, which wire is hot?

The term hot is not associated with wiring in the UK unless you use terms like fire in the hole! Your live wire will be brown, the neutral wire is blue, and the earth wire will be vertical striped yellow and green.

To avoid an electric shock, it is recommended not to have your circuit energised while rewiring.

How can I tell which wire is hot without a multimeter?

Yes, expose the wires and connect the red cable to the brown exposed wire and then the black probe to an earth, switch the multimeter to volts. If you get a reading of 240 volts, you have identified the live wire.

Do lamps need to be earthed?

If your lamp has any conductive material in its body, then it needs to be earthed to avoid electrocution in the event of a fault in the circuit.

What happens if you don’t earth a light?

The earth is there to protect the homeowner from electrocution in the event of a fault developing in the circuit. Without a properly earthed light, it would be possible to be electrocuted in the event of a fault.

What is a Class 2 light fitting?

The class 2 light fitting is designed not to be used with an earth. The light fitting or lamp is called double insulated, negating the need for an earth connection.

To recognise a double insulated lamp, you will see a square placed within another square on the side of the fitting. This is the international symbol for double insulated.

Can I use a 120V light in the UK?

No, as soon as you switch the power on the bulb, it will die, or worse, explode, showering you with glass fragments.

Can a metal light fitting be double insulated?

Yes, the double insulation removes the possibility of the homeowner from touching anything exposed that could cause electrocution.

The lamps’ cables will be enclosed within the lamp material hence double insulated.

Can I use US Christmas lights in the UK?

Yes, after some rework. You need to replace the bulbs with UK Christmas tree bulbs and a UK standard plug with a 3 amp fuse.

The wiring will be OK; Christmas tree bulbs require very little power to operate.

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