Ceiling fan light kits—I can update those ugly pull chain lights without hiring an electrician!


THE PULL CHAIN SOLUTION
I had an epiphany while I was at the store the other day, waiting for them to mix my (Ralph Lauren) paint. I was browsing the ceiling fan aisle; they’re expensive, but I was thinking of putting one in the living room upstairs. It’s mostly pull-chain lights up there, so I thought that was my only option for replacing the ugly, out-dated fixtures. and then…. I found them. Ceiling fan light kits. With optional semi-flush installation! They work with pull chains! They look great, a million times better than what’s up there, and for a lot less than a ceiling fan. I buy them. I’m putting these up before the apartment showings on Saturday. this will be great.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
I take down the old light fixture in the living room. The electrical box is weird, not like what i’ve seen before; it has some sort of adapter thing on it, which I initially took down, but then discovered I needed, so I put it back up. After that, the installation goes relatively well, except for…. it’s ridiculously wobbly. This won’t do. it’s a pull-chain light, so it will seem like it’s going to fall off the ceiling every time someone turns it on or off. It’s because the screws that hold the canopy on are too long. I’m very frustrated. And ever since I shut off the power this annoying and unfindable (and loud!) beep has been going on every 30 seconds. It’s driving me crazy.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Now initally, I had purchased some similar $40 lights at Home Depot, and then got yelled at by my boyfriend for putting too much money into this place. (Admittedly a bad habit of mine. I am to home improvement as Carrie Bradshaw is to shoes.) He encouraged me to look at Menards, where I found these, very similar $15 fixtures. the color of the hardware isn’t as nice, but for $25 less per fixture, times 3, it makes more sense. i’m not exactly making money hand over fist as a duplex owner.

However, I can’t say that I recommend purchasing light fixtures from Menards. I like Menards, don’t get me wrong; their sales staff tends to be much more helpful than those at the Home Depot. But their light fixtures… they’re cute, and reasonably priced, but a pain to install. I bought three identical light fixtures; each one was packaged completely differently, two of them were missing washers (are they important?), one (only one!) had parts labeled for “simi-flush” installation…. and the instructions are terrible. obviously written by someone whose first language is not english. although one light did come with two copies of the instruction sheet, which was thoughtful of them…

I decide to take down the wobbly fixture, and try putting up the $40 one that I was going to return.

(beep)

Hey, these $40 instructions tell me how to shorten those screws so that it’s not wobbly!

(beep)

I’m partially taking down the Menards fixture to shorten those screws. maybe this will work. This would have been much easier, however, if I were not doing it at the top of a ladder, above my head.

It’s up. It’s sturdy. i’m happy. well, except for the beep. I’ve got to find where it’s coming from…

The obnoxious beeping appears to be coming from the carbon monoxide detector in the basement. I unplug it, but to no avail. I’m put it outside.

I suppose I should turn on the power, just in case, to make sure that this light actually works, before putting up the other ones.

(faint beep)

What? It doesn’t turn on? Are you kidding me? I know how to put these things up. I am not retarded. this is a simple thing.

I get all surly and take it apart to investigate before turning the power back off. Probably not a good idea. I find the problem, though; in my fiddling to shorten the screws, the white wires have come undone. I’ve got to find my electrical tape… and I suppose I should shut the power off again while I’m downstairs…

(faint beep)

It works just fine. I get the other two fixtures up within a half hour. Nicely done. And the beeping subsides as well.

LESSONS LEARNED

Unless you’re willing to make up for the difference in time and frustration, it might be worth it to pay $25 more for a light fixture at Home Depot.

Or, when purchasing a cheap light fixture at Menards, consider also purchasing a similar fixture at the Home Depot, so that you can read its instructions, and then return it. (Don’t tell Home Depot that I said to do this.)

You can purchase ceiling fan light kits separately, and use them to replace out-dated square pull-chain lights. I had always thought that I would have to drop a bunch of money on an electrician to put in switches before I could replace them.


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