How To Hard-Wire A Lighted Mirror

Posted on: 2 May 2016

If you look into your bathroom mirror and can't tell if you are the fairest of them all because the overhead light is too dim, you need a lighted mirror. However, most lighted mirrors are not sold with a wall plug, but are hard-wired, or directly connected to a wired circuit.

Hard-wiring a wall mirror is not as daunting as it may seem, even though you must work with electrical components. You only need a few tools and supplies, along with a minimal amount of skill and patience, to power the wall mirror from your under-performing overhead light fixture.

What you will need to wire your mirror

Wire

You will need to check the breaker that controls the flow of power to the overhead light to determine the gauge (thickness) of the wire you will need. If the circuit breaker is stamped with the number "15," then it is a 15 amp circuit and you will need 14 gauge wire. A 20 amp circuit (with the breaker stamped "20") will require least 12 gauge wire.

Don't skimp on the wire gauge to save money. Wire that is too thin for the circuit may overheat and start a fire.

You will need a three wire sheath of the appropriate gauge wire. A 25 foot roll will be sufficient for this project. The roll of wire sheath will be marked either "14-2" for 14 gauge wire or "12-2" for 12 gauge wire.

Wire cutter/stripper tool

This tool will be used to strip insulation from individual wires and to cut the wire sheath to the length needed.

Wire nuts and electrical tape

Buy a variety pack of wire nuts (they look like the caps on toothpaste tubes) and a roll of black electrical tape.

Drill

You'll need to make a hole in the wall behind the mirror to run wire, and to hang the mirror after wiring.

Screwdriver

Preparing the overhead light

You will first turn off the breaker to the overhead light. This is the most important part of the job, because failure to do so can result in electric shock or death.

Next, you will remove the overhead light fixture by removing the screws that attach it to the ceiling. Be sure to hold it in place, or it may strike your head as it fall downward and hangs by the wiring that powers it.

You will see that the wires to the light are connected to other wires by wire nuts and electrical tape. Remove the tape and twist the wire nuts counter-clockwise to remove them. The twisted wire ends will then be exposed.

Running the wire

This is the most difficult part of an electrical project, and causes many amateurs to throw up their hands in despair and call in residential electricians to complete the project.

However, this isn't a very long run of wire, so you should be able to navigate from the overhead light to the mirror. You will start by drilling a hole at the proposed location of your lighted mirror. The hole only needs to be about 1/2" in diameter for the wire sheath to enter.

You will start feeding the sheath of wire inside the ceiling at the overhead light and aim for the direction of the lighted mirror location. When you reach the wall, you will need to shake and cajole the sheath to turn downward and descend along the inside of the wall.

When you can see the end of the wire sheath through the hole in the wall, pull it through to a length of at least 6 inches.

Making the connections

You will cut the wire sheath at the overhead light wiring, allowing enough slack for connection purposes. You will then strip 3/4" of insulation from each of the three wires in the sheath. Do this at both ends of the sheath of wire.

After attaching the lighted mirror to the wall, you will twist he ends of the black sheath wire and the black mirror wire together, the white sheath wire and the white mirror wire, and the green sheath wire to the green- or copper-colored mirror wire.

You will then twist a wire nut in a clockwise direction onto the twisted wire ends, and wrap the wire nut in electrical tape. You will connect the black and wire sheath wires onto the same colored wires twisted wires at the overhead light connection, and add a wire nut and electrical tape to each twisted connection. 

The green sheath wire will be connected to the grounding screw on the light fixture. Secure the light fixture with screws, turn on the breaker, and see yourself in your full glory in your new mirror as an accomplished amateur electrician.

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