I Tried a Hack That Lets You Hang Sconces Absolutely Anywhere, No Wires Needed

updated Jun 14, 2023
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fireplace with green wall and gold sconces hanging above

As a renter, it can sometimes feel like you’re stuck with what you’ve got, especially if you’re not allowed to change something as simple as a wall paint color. Even if you’re lucky enough to have extremely chill landlords, you might not want to invest all that much money in a place you don’t own. Luckily, there are plenty of renter-friendly solutions out there, like this clever hack that allows you to install a sconce sans-wire with help from a puck light.

We’ve lived in our flat for four years now, and I’ve always wanted sconces above the fireplace. Even though our landlords are extremely generous with the improvements they allow us to make, I didn’t want anything to do with hiring an electrician or messing with the electrical work in our building. It just seemed like a project that could get really messy.

Here’s what my fireplace looked like before I started this project. I’d considered hanging the type of sconce that you can plug into an outlet, and while I think they can work in some spaces, I didn’t want to see cords coming down around our fireplace. In the end, I decided to just go ahead and pick out sconces that I loved and work backward from there.

Installing Your Sconces

Once I received the sconces in the mail, I saw that the mounting hardware was pretty straightforward. You’re supposed to attach the mounting plate to the wall with screws, then fit the sconce over, and screw it to the plate. The wires in the back of the sconce were bound in a tidy little bundle, so it was easy to tuck them out of sight when I held the sconce in place.

I considered attaching the sconce to the wall according to the directions (with screws and anchors), but our walls are plaster, and I’ve learned to make as few holes as possible because they are a pain to patch. I have about a million picture and poster removable hanging strips in my house, and they’re usually my go-to, but I didn’t think they would work this time. I needed something that resembled a nail; a hook wouldn’t do. Lo and behold, I found this amazing little “frame hanger” (a removable hanging strip!) that holds five pounds and ordered a pack right away to see if it would work.

If indeed I could get the removable frame hangers to securely hold the sconces, I would need to address the next big issue: how to actually get the sconces working without any electricity. I’d seen battery-powered light bulbs before, but they would be way too big. Puck lights weren’t my first choice because of light distribution, but I found some that were battery-operated and decided to order them anyway.

The good news? It all came together, it looks great, and I can actually bring these with me on our next adventure to hopefully install them in a home of our own someday. Here’s how I made it happen.

What you’ll need to install wire-free sconces:

How to install a wire-free sconce:

1. Figure out where the sconce will go, and mount your hanger

Place the mounting plate on the wall in the spot where you want your sconce to hang. Trace around the top outer portion of the mount, and mark the area at the opening where you’ll hang the mounting plate. This will help you determine where to place the frame hanger strip.

Note: If you don’t mind making holes in the wall, the sconce will be more secure if screwed in as recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise, the frame hanger works for a low-traffic area where there’s no chance of anyone accidentally knocking the sconces off the walls. The frame hanger needs to properly adhere to the wall for at least an hour, so after you’ve placed it, you can start to work on adapting the puck light to fit on the socket. If your sconce has hard plastic candle tubing that slides off, you can carefully remove it and hot glue the puck light to the top. Glue it directly in the center of the puck, then slide the tube back over the socket insulator.

2. Add a bulb base adapter if necessary

If your sconce is the type that requires you to screw the lightbulb in from the bottom — so the lights shines down instead of up — or if your sconce doesn’t have hard plastic candle tubing that can be removed, you can order bulb base adapters that you can glue the puck light to so you don’t ruin your lamp’s actual socket.

For sconces that have plastic candle tubes, you can glue the puck light directly to them (they’re easily replaceable). Or, if you know you won’t ever have your sconce hardwired, you can just hot glue the puck light directly on top of the lamp’s socket. Note that using a socket adapter might make your shade sit on the lamp a bit higher than you’d expect with a traditional bulb.

3. Add the shade

Once the sconce is up, it’s time to add the shade. This part is sort of a “choose your own adventure,” depending on the type of lampshade your sconce came with. Most sconces with cloth shades will be clip-on fitter shades. If your shade is attached to the sconce, you’re lucky—you’ve finished!

As for me, my shade was a clip-on, and I tried quite a few adhesives before settling on one that I liked. First, I tried loading up the bottom of the clips with museum wax, but that didn’t hold for very long before they started leaning over. Next, I tried adding a dollop of hot glue on the top of the puck, hoping that it would adhere to the clips and keep them perfectly upright, but that didn’t work, either. My wild card ended up being what worked best: poster putty.

I placed a bean-sized amount of putty on each of the clips, then pressed the shade on top of the puck. This provided a good stick; I was then able to carefully adjust the shade so that it sat perfectly level.

I was interested to see if the putty would dim the light, so I flicked the lights off (using my remote control!) and was pleasantly surprised to find that everything looked great.

As you can see in the photo, the light doesn’t radiate as evenly as it would with a normal bulb, but it still provides a really pleasant glow. I’m actually really happy with how the project turned out. After four years of renting, I finally have the sconces I’ve always wanted—and will be able to easily bring them with me once we move to use them as non-wired sconces or to install them permanently.