random musings

June 30, 2010


Check this out:

Yes that is Romex peeking out directly from the drywall. No, this is not up to code.

I went to replace the pendant light above my kitchen peninsula and discovered that whomever did the install chose to forgo having a electrical box. Instead of drilling a standard sized hole, they cut one 2 1/2" in diameter (standard is 4"). Oh and by the way, there's a stud right thru the middle.

After freaking out and calling my mom (vmail), looking up electricians, and googling "no electric box light fixture", I determined that the best solution [as in gentle on the pocketbook, up to code and accessible] was to install a pancake box.


4" pancake box. This comes in 2 versions: 1/2" thick and 3/4" thick. Measure your drywall thickness to determine the correct size. This will hold a light fixture up to 35 lbs. If you are hanging a fan, make sure it is rated for fan use.


4" wood screws (2)
via amazon


Drywall saw. Much faster than a utility knife.
via homeimprovementsdepot


Utility knife, for cleaning up raggedy edges. You can use this instead of the saw, as well.

  1. Turn off power. Remove existing fixture, if necessary.
  2. Trace the pancake box onto the ceiling. A pancake box is designed to be attached directly to a stud through the back of the box. If the stud adjoins the hole or your choice of location is between the framing, you will need to select a different type of box.
  3. Using your drywall saw and a utility knife, cut the drywall out. This is messy, so cover your counters with a protective sheet
  4. Figure out which knock out you want to use. Use a hammer and flathead screwdriver to punch it out from the outside of the box.
  5. Pull the Romex through the knockout. Attach the box to the stud using wood screws.
  6. Attach fixture and restore power

Electric box: ~$2.50
Drywall saw: ~$9
screws: free, lying around the house
utility knife: free, lying around the house

Total $$: $11.50
Total time: 1-2 hours, including cleanup [this could totally be reduced with practice - this was my first time cutting drywall]


Much better than waiting for the electrician to show and paying him $$$

Note: A pancake box is a terrible idea if you want to install track lighting. Just sayin'

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