DISCLAIMER: I am NOT even close to an electrician, but I like to think I am fairly intelligent and can follow directions well...

I am in the process of remodeling my basement. I have a suspended/drop ceiling and I plan on replacing the ceiling panels in it, track system covers, etc. The basement currently uses 4 fluorescent bulb shop lights (see picture). Each shop light is plugged in to an outlet in the ceiling joist and all are controlled by a single lightswitch.

I would like to replace these with 2x4 LED panel lights that will actually hang in the suspended ceiling. They are Cortelco 2x4ft LED Troffer Panels.

My Question: Should I just wire a plug onto the LED panels and be done with it or do I rewire to get rid of the outlets and make the lights hardwired?

cob plug


plug2 shop lights

  • 1
    Good question. Have you talked to your AHJ (people who issue building permits)? There are often local amendments pertaining to drop ceilings and plugs above them. Feb 6, 2020 at 22:57
  • Also the NM (romex) cable is suppose to be supported within 6" of the j-box, and every feet. Feb 7, 2020 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


Hard wire your new lights.

NEC 410.62 Cord Connected Lampholders and Luminaires
(C)Electric-Discharge and LED Luminaires
(1)Cord Connection Installation. A luminaire...shall be permitted to be cord connected provided...the cord is visible over its entire length except at terminations.


NEC does not allow cord-and-plug-connected lighting to be covered up with a drop ceiling.

Further, the cord requirement applies to cord-and-hardwired connections as well. They expect you to use flexible metal conduit, armored cable, or a pre-made armored cable "whip". Such whips are sold at the big-box stores.

However, you need to check with your AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction, aka the people who write building permits). Some of them waive the NEC requirement for troffers in drop ceilings.

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