This question is related to my other question where I am actually installing a light figure w/ outlet in a utility closet: What is the correct way to wire a utility light with an outlet?.

But while I was swapping out my broken fixture with the new one, I started to second guess myself for 2 reasons. First, I haven't actually seen these since I was a kid in the early '80s. Second, an actual licensed electrician installed the previous light...maybe there is reason he doesn't install them and why I haven't seen them in 30 years.

enter image description here

OR...should I not have gotten one with an outlet?

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    Is this closet in a location where it would be totally impractical for it to be a clothes closet? It's not near an entry where it's likely to be used for winter coats etc.? Does it have shelving that would make clothes hanging impractical? I really super don't like the idea of this type of fixture in ANY closet; I witnessed such a fixture start a fire, and yes, that was in a utility closet, not a clothes closet. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 16 '18 at 19:02
  • It's in a closet under the stairs, which we use as a pantry. – Jay Cummins Jun 18 '18 at 13:07
  • What are the dimensions of this closet? What do you mean by a "utility" closet? Does it have a mop sink in it? – Jim Stewart Jun 19 '18 at 9:20

The light

The luminaire (that porcelain thing) is bad news in a closet, whether it has a socket or not. NEC 410.16, "Luminaires in clothes closets". While 410.16 covers what is permitted, 410.16(B) swerves out of its way to outlaw that particular type.

This may not be strictly speaking a clothes closet, but utility closets also get used for things that can catch fire. 410.16 seeks to prevent a particular type of fire, and I have witnessed that type of fire starting (and intervened obviously), and it was a utility closet. More to the point, very good products are available today -- why not use them? So let's use 410.16A as a guidestar, even though it may not be technically a clothes closet.

Where safe to use, the luminaires are fine with or without socket. I use arrays of them for ceiling lighting in basement/shop spaces. They are so cheap that even with steel octagon boxes and EMT conduit, material cost is ~$5 a lamp. It lets me put my glut of obsolete CFLs to good use. Anyway...

410.16A says you can only use one of

  1. Surface-mount or recessed incandescent or LED luminaires with completely enclosed light sources (i.e. the light emitter is behind a glass or plastic bezel and the luminaire is rated for the heat of the fully enclosed bulb including an incandescent if those exist for the socket type, because somebody will).
  2. Surface-mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaires (but don't)
  3. Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires identified as suitable for installation within the closet storage space (i.e. the manufacturer has specifically listed the fixture for installation in closets.)

410.16C is very particular about location, for every type except 3. I typed in all the gory details, then deleted it because it doesn't matter; it's clear that Code is working pretty hard to herd you into type 3 above.

Figure on this being an LED fixture with integral emitters (no bulbs to change). It's pretty easy to make those cool enough to be safe in a closet. That's the right thing for this job and this location.

The receptacle

Any new closet receptacle needs to be AFCI protected. You might be able to find listed-for-closet LED fixtures with convenience receptacles, but I wouldn't count on it. If your heart's set on a receptacle there, I'd fit a surface conduit adapter box on top of that octagon box, both because it'll give you space for a normal receptacle (with a special cover plate) and also allow you to extend via surface conduit to another location for the luminaire.

You still need to figure out the AFCI thing; you can't put an AFCI+receptacle combo device in an octagon box - it won't fit. So the AFCI will need to go somewhere upstream. Normally you replace the circuit breaker with a breaker+AFCI, because bonus, it also protects the house wiring from problems in the wires or receptacles, which has proven to be so useful they are now required on lots of circuits.

P.S. Here's 410.16 verbatim:

enter image description here

  • But if the breaker is afci then why would this fixture be illegal? – Matthew Jun 16 '18 at 18:11
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    @Matthew It wouldn't be. Unless installed where open incandescents aren't permitted. – Dan D. Jun 16 '18 at 18:35
  • @Matthew AFCI only safes the receptacle. It does nothing to address the deficiencies of the style of lamp, particularly in tight spaces where things are stored. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 16 '18 at 19:42
  • Would those retro wire cage bulb guards over an LED in a porcelain socket comply with code for a closet? There wall switches with an integral AFCI (store.leviton.com/products/…) so if there is a wall switch then the socket could be AFCI protected. I am partial to these ceramic light sockets – Jim Stewart Jun 16 '18 at 20:08
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    @JimStewart I really don't think so but I didn't write 410.16. I added a snap of it to my answer so you can read it for yourself. Remember LED screw-in retrofits don't count; if it's possible for a fool to put an incandescent bulb in it, it is an incandescent luminaire. Note 410.16(C)(1) calling for 12" distance from anywhere anything could be stored. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 18 '18 at 15:10

The outlet does no harm and is not switched by the pull chain switch. The only reason to not use it would be to prevent some clueless person from misusing it and starting a fire in closet, e.g., plug in a heater and leave it on. Teenagers and renters will sometimes be reckless.

This could be very useful in a utility closet.

There may be a code restriction on having receptacles in a closet. But one summer in college I used a walk in closet in a rented room as a study den; it must have had a receptacle in the wall for my lamp. In our house in Dallas I have installed some of these porcelain fixtures with the receptacle and they provide receptacles that we use.

Do you have a wall switch or will be pull chain switch be the only switch?

  • Are newly installed closet fixtures allowed to have unprotected bulbs? – Tyson Jun 16 '18 at 15:19
  • Modern LED bulbs seem pretty rugged, but there is always the code. – Jim Stewart Jun 16 '18 at 15:20
  • Code is looking at the fire hazard from a broken lamp. An enclosed lamp like a jelly jar fixture can still be used but there are spacing requirements. But led is the way to go. – Ed Beal Jun 16 '18 at 19:09
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    @Ed Code is also looking at the fire hazard from an intact lamp to which items have been placed too close, and I've watched stuff start to burn from that, and given how easily it happened, I could also see it happen from a CFL or LED that got wrapped in a blanket or something. The spacing requirements are attempts to prevent that from affecting jelly-jars. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 16 '18 at 20:53
  • @Harper that's why I mentioned the spacing requirement. – Ed Beal Jun 17 '18 at 16:09

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