I am wondering if it's possible to recycle a string of patio lights that have E12 sockets with new wiring for a Christmas project. As it stands now the string of lights has a socket about every eight inches. There are at least 50 sockets on this string. I bought it at Good Will for $4. I'd like to cut the cord about two inches from either side of each socket and use new electrical cord to extend them to be approximately 12" apart. Each decoration will contain no more than four LED bulbs and each bulb will only use 1.2 to 1.5 watts. So in other words, I'd like to buy an extension cord, cut it at the appropriate length, connect my first E12 socket and then daisy-chain three more lights at 12" intervals.

Can I buy a standard extension cord to do this? I've done something similar with E26 sockets and LED bulbs in the past but wasn't sure if E12 lights were different.

1 Answer 1


If I follow your hoping to salvage the sockets out of this string and use them for a custom made string of lights. Since these sockets go for about $2 or so, you'll save something like $100.

I think it's a good idea as long as you make this a low voltage string of lights. I don't think 120V homebrew stuff is a great idea for a lot of reasons.

But say 12V - that's not nearly as dangerous, and power supplies are inexpensive and easy to find. With LED lights, the load is much smaller than with incandescent, and these types of projects are easier to pull off since voltage drop doesn't amount to much with a reasonably big wire. Low voltage LEDs should be less expensive and last longer because they don't need as complex a circuit in each bulb - a simple regulator instead of a full blown power supply circuit. The main conversion gets done in a wall wart that can be easily swapped if it breaks.

If you cut off those sockets with a bit of lead, you could connect them to a two-wire backbone cable and let them hang. I'd use a 14 gauge or 12 gauge twisted pair bell type wire rather than a cable with a jacket like an extension cable. That shouldn't be too hard to find.

  • I'm having a hard time locating 14 gauge twisted pair bell type wire. Just to be more clear, these lights won't hang. So if you were concerned about a cord with exposed wire nuts looking unsightly that's not going to be the case. Since I already have the ext cords that have a plug can I use them or is that unsafe? Take a look at this video to see what i want to make. These lanterns are what I want to create and the cord is hidden: vimeo.com/308151190
    – Adrien
    Dec 5, 2019 at 21:21
  • @Adrien - search a little more, I put "bell wire twisted 14/2" in the search engine and it found some dog fence wire that was real inexpensive right at the top of the results. But you could scavenge an extension cord if you want, just more work. BUT - You DON'T want to plug this project directly into a regular power receptacle like you would an extension cord, that would put everything at 120V and be quite dangerous. You want to connect this to a 12V power supply, which is quite safe if done right. Dec 5, 2019 at 21:48
  • I just looked up 12V power supply and I can't find anything cheaper than $15 for just one. I need a total of eight of these. That's $120 just to plug my lights in. That's insane! Plus, I don't see the dog fence wire you're talking about. I used the same search you did. I don't have the time to order something online. i was hoping I could get something from one of the big box stores to get this going.
    – Adrien
    Dec 6, 2019 at 3:57
  • @Adrien, I think your project can be done safely and economically. You can power all your lights with a single power supply. Let me make a different suggestion. Look into how low voltage 12V landscape lighting works. You could easily modify a landscape lighting system to light your decorations with those salvaged sockets. Of course just please be careful. Dec 6, 2019 at 11:40
  • I tried your suggestion of using a 12V power supply. I bought this item online: amazon.com/gp/product/B01HDAIAGU/… If you look at the third image from the product above it has an adapter with a blue and red wire to to connect to an adapter. I tried connecting the lead directly to that adapter piece. Nothing works. However, I used my voltage tester to test the wires and also hovered it over each empty socket and it activates, telling me there is power. But the bulbs don't light up. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong
    – Adrien
    Dec 9, 2019 at 8:25

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