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Recently moved in to a new workspace with some very funky wiring. Basically, there is a flourescent light installed overhead with a three prong plug. That plug goes to a power strip also attached to the ceiling - which in turn is connected to an extension cord running to an outlet at the floor.

Any advice on how to make this safer would be greatly appreciated. I am a total newbie.

  • Is this finished living space, or a basement type area? Also, own or rent? – bib Jul 8 '15 at 14:02
  • Closer to a basement type area - basically it's a raw space used for art studios. I'm renting. – maren Jul 8 '15 at 14:13
  • Hire an electrician to properly wire everything seems like your best bet.. – Andy Jan 8 '18 at 23:24
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Extension cords are not supposed to be used for permanent fixtures. These fixtures are supposed to be hard wired or directly plugged into a permanent outlet.

A common approach to solve this problem would be to install a switched outlet on the ceiling near the fluorescent lights. In many jurisdictions, you could use non-metallic cable to run the outlet and the switch. In some, you might have to either snake the cables in the wall or use surface raceways.

You could ask your landlord to make this change. Good luck.

Reducing the number of extension connections would somewhat improve safety, and ensuring that cords are not dangling in walking space or prone to being pulled or tripped over would reduce risk. One extension cord to the fixture is better than a cord and a power strip. Also make sure that any extension cord is three wire. DO NOT BYPASS THE GROUND PIN! But any of these patches are less than what is considered safe practice.

At very least, you may want to install a GFCI outlet wherever the cords are ultimately plugged in. This would provide some protection in the event of failure of the fixture or the cords.

  • Thanks @bib! Getting the landlord to do anything is basically out of the question - he has no interest in keeping the space up to code or even safe. So if I were to do this myself would you recommend maybe installing surface raceways from the fluorescent light down to the outlet? – maren Jul 8 '15 at 15:17
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    Surface raceways are fairly easy to install, converting an existing outlet to a surface junction box and running to a switch and then a switched outlet. At the end of the lease, you can either leave or remove the raceways, leaving nothing but a few anchor holes to fill in the wall. – bib Jul 8 '15 at 22:18

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