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What Is a Pulley Light?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A pulley light, or drop light, as it is also commonly called, is a spring-loaded spool containing electrical wire and connected to a lighting fixture. The pulley light is commonly mounted and wired into the ceiling, although some people choose to mount the light to a wall or under a work bench. Called a drop light due to the fact the light typically "drops" from the ceiling to be used, a pulley light is a tool to direct light to hard-to-see areas. Another feature of the light is an electrical outlet on the light's handle that allows other electrical devices to be plugged in to it.

One of the most used apparatuses in many garages is the pulley light. Used not only to shed needed light in dark areas, the light is also used as an extension power-cord to provide electrical power to other tools. A necessity in the pulley light is a severe duty shop-light bulb. This style of light bulb withstands shock and bumping much better than a regular household light bulb, plus the glass in a severe duty shop-light bulb is also plastic-coated. The plastic coating not only protects the bulb from any fluid coming in contact with the bulb, it also creates a membrane that holds the glass together in the case of accidental breakage.

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Mounting a pulley light commonly requires no special training or tools; the assembly typically hangs from a hook screwed into the ceiling and plugs into a ceiling-mounted electrical outlet. Some owners elect to hard wire the pulley light directly into the building's electrical wiring system. This eliminates the need to have an electrical outlet close to the light and any loose plug problems, such as a blinking light. Most pulley light fixtures incorporate a rubber or plastic ball that is fitted onto the light's cord. This ball stops the cord at a designated spot to keep the light from retracting all the way up to the ceiling and out of easy reach.

While typically inexpensive, the average pulley light is used for years without fail or problem. Simple routine maintenance, such as cleaning the light cord and keeping it free of grease and grime, will allow the light to give a long life of trouble-free usage. It is sometimes wise to wire the light fixture into a breaker-equipped or fused circuit to prevent accidental electrical shock caused by a broken light bulb and liquid. It is never advised to use the light fixture while examining a coolant leak or while working with wet hands.

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