| Sheila Howell

Antique Lighting: To Rewire or Not To Rewire, That is the Question

A fabulous lamp, sconce or chandelier can bring instant style and personality to a room. Antique and vintage lighting brings character and individuality to your home - it's unlikely you'll see the same lamp in your neighbor's home. When buying an antique lamp from Europe or an antique American lamp, you need to assume it does not meet today's safety standards. Safety is critical when using an antique light fixture in an American home due to the age of the light and the differences between European and US electrical wiring. A worn out or incompatible light fixture can be a fire hazard. If you don't know if your antique lamp has new wiring you should take the lamp to an electrician for an assessment. 

Can You Use An Antique European Light in the US? 

European Plug v US Plug

European electrical wiring is very different from American wiring. New construction homes in the US require all electrical fixtures meet UL standards, and European wiring is a different standard. An electrician may decline to install a non-UL certified antique chandelier because it will not pass the electric inspection. However, UL certified light fixtures are not legally required in American homes. When buying a gorgeous antique light fixture from Europe, determine if it is necessary to rewire the light. Always consult an electrician for the best options for your antique light fixture. 

  • A European antique lamp may have already been rewired for modern wiring, and only need the plug changed for US electrical outlets.
  • Another option is to add an adaptor to modify a European plug for US usage.
  • Antique European light fixtures may also need a US light bulb: European bulbs are for 220 volt service, and American wiring is 110 volts. The difference in voltage may result in dimmer lighting from a European bulb when used in the US.  

Antique Lighting: To Rewire or Not To Rewire, That is the Question | European Finds | Online Antique Warehouse

What Questions Should You Ask When Buying Antique Lighting?

If you are buying an antique or vintage lamp or chandelier from a United States seller - a flea market, an antique store, an interior designer or an online antique dealer like European Finds, you should ask the seller some questions about the light. 

  • Where is this light from? When was it made? If it was made outside the US, ask where it was made. 
  • Has this lamp or chandelier been rewired? Where and when was it rewired? 
  • Is the wiring UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approved? 
  • On non-American made lighting, are the bulbs American? What kind of bulbs are required? 

Antique and Vintage Lighting

How to Have an Antique Light Fixture Restored 

Take your antique light fixture to a professional electrician for an assessment of the lamp's wiring and plugs. Many lighting stores restore and rewire antique and vintage lamps, sconces and chandeliers and are an excellent resource on the best options for your particular light fixture. Prices can be as low as $15 if a simple update is needed or can run into hundreds of dollars if an antique light fixture needs to be restored and rewired. Some older lighting that originally used candles or gas for illumination may never have been wired - an expert in antique lighting restoration can help you decide the best options for use in your home. 

European Finds has antique and vintage lamps, chandeliers and sconces that will make a statement in your home! If you don't see what you are looking for, give us a call - we also provide antique sourcing services to help you find the perfect piece.  

Contact: customerservice@europeanfinds.com