How do I Install a Light Fixture?

Josie Myers

A new light fixture can add ambiance, change the whole feel of a room, and even add value to the home. Installing a light fixture requires a few basic tools and a little know how. With a screwdriver and a ladder, anyone with basic handyman skills can replace an old musty fixture.

It is important to switch off the electrical breaker before installing a light fixture.
It is important to switch off the electrical breaker before installing a light fixture.

Before any old light fixture can be removed, the power has to be cut to the fixture. A breaker box is usually located in the basement area. Locate the breaker box and switch off the correct breaker. If it is the right one, the fixture will not work.

Loosen any screws that are holding the light fixture up or together. Those with glass coverings or shades usually have screws holding the glass in place. Under the glass will be additional screws holding the fixture itself into the ceiling or wall.

Under the fixture, there will be wire nuts that look like plastic caps. These unscrew from the wires counterclockwise. Usually, black is the hot wire, white is the neutral wire and copper or green is the ground wire. Try to follow the order" hot first, neutral second, and ground last if possible. For safety's sake, a simple circuit tester can be used to be sure that the hot wires are off before touching any open wires

Once the screws are all out and the wires are disconnected, the old light fixture can be taken down. Trying to take a large fixture down a ladder can be difficult and dangerous. If it is a large fixture, a helper can come in handy.

In most cases, the mounting bracket should to be replaced. New light fixtures include a fresh shiny one to place in. The old one may appear fine aside from rust, but considering this is the single piece that holds all the weight of the new fixture, it is usually best just to put the new one in.

New light fixtures come with instructions which should be followed from here. Generally, the neutral wire should be connected first, followed by the ground and finally the hot wire. Hold the two ends of the matching wires together and, going clockwise, screw the wire nuts over the tips of them. They should be tight and you should not be able to pull apart with a slight tug.

After the wires are all attached, the new light fixture can be screwed into place using manufacturers instructions. Usually, long screws will attach the fixture to the new mounting bracket. Once it is in place, light bulbs should be placed in the fixture and the breaker can be turned back on to make sure the fixture is working before placing any glass shades on. If all is working properly, place the new glass shade on using the screws provided and enjoy!

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