Knowing how to install a light fixture can be useful and save money. Many light fixtures are relatively easy to install, there are just few steps and some precautions to take.

For related information see the articles, 'Troubleshooting Residential Wiring' and 'Basic House Wiring'. These articles have other resources related to electrical light wiring.

Removing the Old Light Fixture

wiring-lights-pic4Before removing a light fixture you want to turn off the power to the light. Don't just turn off the switch. With the switch off you will still have hot wires in the boxes. Tag the breaker so that no on turns it on.

It is possible to have wires from more than one circuit running through a box. Use a not contact voltage tester to make sure everything is off before you touch any of the wires.

On some fixtures you will have to remove the globe and the light bulbs to get at the base plate. Most lights are held in place by a couple of screws. For fixtures with a globe and base plate, they will likely be phillips head screws. Fixtures with and open frame work and exposed fasteners will have a matching cap screw.

Loosen the screws and allow the light to hang by the wires. This is where you might consider taking a picture. Got a photographic memory? Great, don't bother with the picture. For the rest of us mortals a picture could be a life saver later.

Check one more time to make sure the power is off before you unhook the wires. Use a tester to do this. A non contact tester is the best. Satisfied that the power is off? Now you can unhook the wires, save the wire nuts, just in case.

Installing the New Light

Installing a light fixture is not a difficult task. Be honest, how much time did you spend deciding on the which fixture to buy? It is quite possible that you will have far less time invested in the actual installation of the light fixture.

wiring-lights-pic5At this point, you should have already removed the old fixture. Now comes the hard part. you will need to look at the instruction for assembling your new fixture. Your new fixture will likely come with a new mounting bracket and a screw kit. Locate all of the parts and you are ready to begin.

Subject to what you read in the instruction, installing a light fixture will likely proceed in the following order: (1) Install the mounting bracket to the box. (2) Hook up the wires for the base plate. (3) Install the base plate. (4) Install the trim and/or globes. (5) Install the bulbs. Assemble the fixture per the instructions. Be careful, the parts are usually fairly delicate. If you have to force something, you are probably doing it wrong.


For the wiring, hook the black up to the hot leg from the switch. The white wire from the light will hook up to the neutral, usually the white wire. Most new lights also come with a ground wire. This hooks up to the bare ground wire.

There are lots of different sizes and styles of lights. You will need to take a look at the directions when you assemble the fixture. You may need some help with medium to large fixtures. Especially when you are trying to hold it up and connect the wires.

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