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I'm trying to improve the lighting in my garage. Currently it has several simple bare-bulb lampholders, and I am installing larger hanging LED fixtures that have a cord with a plug.

Initially, I tried using an adapter that screws into the light socket. Unfortunately, this does not make proper contact with the center terminal of the socket, and the plugged-in light fixture did not initially work. I attempted to bend the center terminal out slightly to make better contact. That worked for a while but the light stopped working after just a few minutes. If I wiggled the plug, the light would flicker and I could hear arcing inside the fixture - not good! Reading reviews of several similar adapters, this seems a common problem.

I purchased some Leviton 1228 receptacles which are designed to fit a round electrical box. Unfortunately, when I went to install them, I found that the existing electrical boxes have the screws at a 2.75-inch spacing instead of the more common 3.5-inch spacing. This simply does not fit, and I have not been able to locate any similar receptacles that would fit.

I have considered replacing the fixtures with lampholders with built-in outlets (which do have the spacing). However, I do not want to have an empty socket or install bulbs in these locations. I'd also prefer not to cut the plugs off the end of the light cords and hardwire them into the box.

Are there receptacles that are designed to fit a round box with 2.75 inch screw spacing, or some other good solution to connecting these light fixtures?

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    If it makes you feel better, you're not allowed to cut the plugs off the lamps and hard wire them. – JPhi1618 Mar 4 at 5:22
  • How do you feel about removing the small boxes and installing an "old work" replacement that is larger? I don't think you can get a receptacle installed in a 3.5" octagon box (assuming that's what you have). – JPhi1618 Mar 4 at 5:34
  • Does this answer your question? Can a standard NEMA 5-15 outlet be installed in a round ceiling box? – Daniel Griscom Mar 4 at 14:59
  • @DanielGriscom I don't think it does. OP's box is about 25% smaller so "standard" solutions won't work. – MonkeyZeus Mar 4 at 15:03
  • thanks, @DanielGriscom my first thought was that question. (Of course, it's my question, so I should have thought of it... :D) – FreeMan Mar 4 at 19:26
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A picture of the situation would be immensely helpful.

Anyways, if the ceiling is not finished then I would upgrade to standard sized electrical boxes; it would cost a grand total of about $3 for the box, outlet, and plate.

If that is not possible then get an oversized cover and drill the holes yourself. See this Amazon review

enter image description here

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5059-15-Amp-3-Wire-Receptacle/dp/B000U3I1Z8

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  • This part is very similar to the Leviton 1228 outlets I had purchased, the primary difference being that the ones I bought have two outlets. It did not occur to me to simply drill new holes in the plate to accommodate the screw spacing. I think the shape of the ones I have will physically fit into the box, if so I will try this. – mbmcavoy Mar 5 at 17:11
  • @mbmcavoy I'm glad I gave you an "aha!" moment. Looking at your 1228s on Amazon, it looks like they will fit but just make sure to provide adequate spacing for the terminal screws and all the wiring. Hopefully everything fits well and it doesn't short itself out against anything! – MonkeyZeus Mar 5 at 17:32
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    I removed outlet from the cover plate, checked that the box had clearance for the outlet to fit inside without risking a short, drilled the holes, and installed everything for two locations. – mbmcavoy Mar 6 at 6:08
  • @mbmcavoy Nice! Glad things worked out – MonkeyZeus Mar 6 at 13:46
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What you want is available if you are willing to order parts and put it together. The starting place is a single round outlet such as the Leviton 5258-SS.

enter image description here

Picture Source

Then you need the smaller sized 3.5" cover plate with 2.75" mounting holes. The above outlet mounts into the plate.

enter image description here

Picture Source

See picture sources for possible suppliers. To mount the 5258-SS into the shown cover plate you would need to drill your own holes. The existing device holes in the plate have too large of a dimension.

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You can install one of these light sockets.

enter image description here ......

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    Quoting from the question: "I have considered replacing the fixtures with lampholders with built-in outlets (which do have the spacing). However, I do not want to have an empty socket or install bulbs in these locations." – Martha Mar 4 at 15:31
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    Can always fill in the socket with a 2-prong adapter like amazon.com/GE-Polarized-Adapter-Install-54276/dp/B002DN6QX2 – Phil G Mar 4 at 17:55
  • @PhilG No. OP mentioned: "Initially, I tried using an adapter that screws into the light socket. Unfortunately, this does not make proper contact with the center terminal of the socket, and the plugged-in light fixture did not initially work." followed by "I could hear arcing inside the fixture" – MonkeyZeus Mar 4 at 19:49
  • @MonkeyZeus I meant to fill in the empty socket - assuming that the three pin was being used for the light fixture plug. I'm not sure why these adapters wouldn't work, my basement is unfortunately well supplied with ceramic light sockets (on original knob and tube wiring) with many of these adapters fitted. Some look like they're genuine Bakelite moldings. – Phil G Mar 4 at 20:48
  • @PhilG, While the adapters are certainly common, I found them to not fit my sockets properly and thought they were not safe as described in my question. This seemed to be a pretty common complaint across different brands. Even if I don't use the adapter socket myself, I'd be uncomfortable installing a socket that isn't safe to use in case someone else uses it in the future. – mbmcavoy Mar 5 at 17:40

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