I am working to convert a hard wire light fixture which I have purchased to a plug in light fixture. The light fixture was designed for outdoor use, but I will be using it inside. Coming out of the light fixture is what seems to be a regular lamp cord for the hot and neutral, but there is a an exposed copper ground wire that is not protected/sheathed.

I am concerned about the ground wire being exposed because I plan to take the fixture, splice it onto an extension cord or other lamp wire, but so the lamp wire will look better going down the wall, I plan to threat the wire through metal chain.

What should I do about the ground wire in this case, it seems odd that it is exposed and would be hanging out by itself, but this is in the installation diagram so I guess its on purpose. Can I just cut the ground off since this is for indoor usage or is it safe running along the main cord with the chain around it?

Should I just by a regular extension cord (if so what gauge/rating) or are there certain things I need to know based on the light to choose a more power cord for this purpose? Want to make sure I ground and protect everything.

Edit: Reference Photo enter image description here

  • I would juut use a 3 wire lamp cord and connect it to the ground wire just like you're connecting the other 2 wires. If your goal is to "make sure I ground and protect everything", cutting off and not using the ground wire is pretty much the opposite of that. As long as the ground wire is connected to your house ground, it's ok if the bare ground wire contacts the bare chain.
    – Johnny
    Commented Dec 19, 2013 at 1:36
  • Couldn't you use a heavy duty extension cord and connect the ground wire to the ext cord's ground?
    – Dev
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 7:41

2 Answers 2


Lamp cord typically comes in 18/2, and 16/2 varieties. Neither of which has a grounding conductor. If the lamp...

  • is intended to be used indoors
  • will connect to the electrical system through a cord-and-plug attachment means
  • Does not have any exposed metal parts

you should be fine using a 2 wire attachment cord. However if the lamp...

  • will be used outdoors
  • will be hardwired
  • has exposed metal parts

then you should consider using an attachment cord with a grounding conductor, and connecting the grounding conductor to the grounding conductor in the fixture.

  • Is there a big risk for the first scenario if the ground is on threaded around the metal chain?
    – HelpEric
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 1:26
  • If the ground is connected to the metal frame of the lamp (which is in turn connected to the metal chain), wouldn't he have the same shock hazard regardless of whether or not the ground cable is insulated?
    – Johnny
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 17:10
  • Right, so it sounds like the ground wire should be insulated or grounded at some point. I added a picture to the original question - the wire seems purposely exposed on purpose; it came with some chain which did not feel plastic to me. The lamp is intended for outdoor usage - even outdoors, I don't understand why the ground wire is just hanging out on its own threaded through the chain, it would seem to be a bigger risk outside? Is this standard or is there a special reason the wire is exposed like this? It's separate from the light switch on.
    – HelpEric
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 18:47
  • 1
    @Eric The reason it's done that way is because 3 wire lamp cord doesn't exist (at least to my knowledge), but since it's a permanently connected light fixture a ground is required. Grounding conductors are only allowed to be specific colors, and I'm guessing they thought the fixture looked funny with a bright green wire running through the chain. So they settled on using a bare wire. As long as the grounding conductors is properly attached to an adequate ground, it should provide a low enough resistance path to ground, and should pose no risk.
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 13:03
  • 1
    @Eric Yes, you'll want to use a three prong plug.
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 10:07

This sounds like it will end up pretty ugly, but if the end-goal is a work light, then go crazy.

Just mount the fixture to a an exterior PVC, or surface mount steel, box and be done with it. Either sacrifice the end of an appropriate extension cord, or get a new run of extension-cord like wire, and add a plug.

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