How to Install a Light Fixture

Many electrical jobs aren’t fit for the casual DIYer. But there are some jobs, like installing a light fixture, that can be safely done without much electrical expertise. As long as you’re replacing an existing fixture and don’t need wiring run for an entirely new fixture, you may be able to handle installing a light fixture yourself. Follow these instructions for how to wire a light fixture. It could save you the cost of hiring someone to do it for you. 



Cut Power to the Circuit

Before you start working with any electrical wiring in your home, cut power to the circuit you’ll be working on at the circuit breaker. Ideally, your breaker box should have labels letting you know which breakers control which rooms and large appliances in your home. But if yours doesn’t, or it does but they’re ambiguous, you can turn off all the breakers to be safe.


Remove the Old Fixture

With the power safely off, you can begin by removing your old light fixture from the ceiling. Look at the canopy -- the part of the fixture that sits flush against the ceiling and hides the hole and wiring -- and figure out what mechanism holds it in place against the ceiling. Sometimes there’s a visible screw. Other canopies have a screw-on ring or other similar fastener that may be less obvious. Undo the fastener and let the canopy hang to expose the wiring above it. 

You should see three wires coming out of the ceiling -- a bare copper or green ground wire, a black wire, and a white wire. They will be connected to wires in the fixture with twist-on wire connectors. Remove those and disconnect the wiring. Set the old canopy aside.


Install the New Bracket or Faceplate

Before you can wire up the new fixture, you may need to install a new bracket or base plate on your light fixture electrical box. Refer to your new fixture’s installation instructions -- if it comes with a new bracket or base plate, you should install it. The base plate or bracket is the mounting hardware for your fixture, and it should attach to the electrical box with bolts or screws.


Wire Up the New Fixture

Twist the exposed ends of the wires in your new fixture together with the exposed ends of the wires in your ceiling, and secure them with wire connectors. Connect the black wire to the black wire, the white wire to the white wire, and the green or bare wire to the green or bare wire. If you don’t have a ground wire in your electrical box, connect the ground wire in your fixture to the green ground screw on your mounting bracket or plate.


Secure the New Fixture

If your fixture has a pull chain, adjust it to the right length and tuck any extra chain or cord into the canopy for safekeeping. Hold the new fixture against the ceiling and secure it to the ceiling using the screws, screw-on ring, or other fastener it comes with. Screw a lightbulb into the fixture.


Restore the Power

Turn the power back on at the breaker box and test the new fixture. If the light doesn’t work, you probably didn’t connect the black and white wires to one another correctly. Turn off  power  again, remove the canopy, and check the connections.

DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations. 

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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