This $10 No-Wiring Lighting Upgrade Is the Easiest Fix for a Dark Room

published Jun 21, 2023
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Before: pendant light over a dining table with normal single-socket bulb.
Credit: Cat Meschia

Like many others who live in older homes, my husband and I don’t have the best overhead lighting in every room of our 1970s house. For instance, we rely on just one pendant to provide all the necessary light in our dining room. We thought this would be enough, as it was replacing a non-functional fan and we have spotlights around the perimeter of the room (thank you, ‘70s style).

Credit: Cat Meschia

Within a week of living with the pendant, however, we found ourselves avoiding that room at night. The obvious, predictable truth was that a single lightbulb was never going to adequately light up the space. But we didn’t want to give up on our paper shade! We loved the look, but something had to change, and I preferred for the fix to involve minimal electrical work. As I was researching solutions, I stumbled on what seemed to be a perfect answer in my Instagram Reels feed: a socket splitter adapter.

These socket splitter adapters screw right into your light fixture — you twist it in as if you were screwing in a lightbulb — and essentially convert your single lightbulb into a multi-bulb fixture. They start at $10 and require no rewiring or special skills. Could brightening up my dining room really be that easy? I put in an order to find out.

The socket splitter I purchased is available in three ($10), four ($12), and five-way ($13) splits. It works by siphoning off power from the main socket into three (or more) additional sockets, which each power one bulb. (To prevent dangerous overheating, never use a bulb with higher wattage than is specified for each socket, and make sure that the total wattage used is not higher than your light fixture’s maximum allowed wattage. This is easy to achieve with LED bulbs, which use a fraction of the wattage of incandescent bulbs to release the same amount of light.) For this story, I tested and photographed the three-split style.

Credit: Cat Meschia

After testing, I reached a pretty firm conclusion: I could not love this little tool more. It’s hard to capture just exactly how much brighter the room is in photos, but I tried anyway. You can note here just how much more light is being bounced onto the ceiling and table than before. Now imagine how big of a difference that makes at night!

Credit: Cat Meschia

Each of the heads on this splitter is adjustable, so you can position the lightbulbs to optimally fit inside your shade. That means that bulbs can be pointed downward or straight out to focus light wherever you really need it, too.

With the adapter, my husband and I finally feel comfortable playing board games in this room — we can actually see what we’re doing! It’s worked so well, I will be immediately placing a second order for another pendant light in our house. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking to brighten up their space without a lot of work, as it couldn’t be easier to install. This is a particularly great solution if you rent, too: You can quickly add it to your light fixtures without creating any damage, and then just unscrew it and take it with you whenever you move out.

Credit: Cat Meschia

The manufacturer and reviewers confirm that this does work with dimmable bulbs, too; you will just need to make sure that the bulbs you use are specifically made to be dimmed. 

The key thing in buying the socket splitter is that you will need to ensure first that it will actually fit inside the shade you’d like to use it with. Make sure to factor the size of the bulb into your measurements before clicking “purchase.” While this adapter will work for many (if not most) large shades, there are plenty of smaller ones that just won’t give you the option to try. In those instances, you might still be able to swap out the shade for something larger, which will still require no wiring and minimal tools.

It’s hard to name a more impactful home upgrade that you could do for $10 or even $13 — not to mention that you could pull off with such little effort. This buy is 100 percent DIYer approved.

Buy: JACKYLED 3 in 1 E26 Light Socket Splitter Adapter Converter, $9.99