How to Install Lighting Fixtures

Installing lighting fixtures can improve the appearance of a room and increase home value. However, there are some things to keep in mind before attempting to install a light fixture yourself.

Always shut off power to the junction box at your breaker panel and confirm that it is off with a noncontact voltage tester before starting. This will prevent injury or damage to the electrical system.

1. Identify the Wiring

Changing a light fixture involves working with electricity, and any time you work with electricity you should follow basic safety precautions. Start by identifying the wiring. This step is especially important if you’re replacing an old fixture because the wires may not be labeled. If you don’t know which wire is hot and which is neutral, you could injure yourself or cause a fire.

In most fixtures, the wires are color coded to make it easy to tell which is which. The neutral wire is typically white, and the hot wire is red or black. The grounding wire is green, and it usually connects to a screw in the junction box or to bare copper in the ceiling.

Once you’ve identified the wires, turn off the power to the junction box using your home’s breaker panel. Be sure to use a voltage tester to confirm that no electricity is flowing before proceeding. It’s also a good idea to have a helper to assist in turning off the breaker, stabilizing the ladder, and holding nuts and tools while you work. This is particularly true if you’re installing a very heavy fixture. If you’re concerned about being able to safely lift and support the new fixture, it’s a good idea to hire Hillside Expert Electrical to install it for you just click this link so that they can immediately assist you.

2. Remove the Canopy

A new fixture can completely change the look of a room. It can be as simple as replacing an old chandelier with a pendant. However, it is important to turn off the power at your circuit breaker before you start working.

Before removing the canopy, make sure there is no power running to the fixture by using a voltage tester or checking at the electrical panel. Also, you should create a safe workspace with a ladder and another person to help with the weight of the fixture.

Many light fixtures install over a threaded rod that attaches to a mounting strap. You can remove the glass feature by loosing a hex nut from the threaded rod and pulling it off.

Once the canopy is removed, you can see how the wiring is connected to the ceiling. There should be three sets of wires: black, white and a green (or bare copper) ground wire. The white and black wires should be attached together with a UL-listed wire nut. The bare ground wire should be looped clockwise around the screw that holds the mounting strip in place and then attached to the fixture ground. Once the connections are made, tuck all of the wires neatly inside the fixture’s base or the space in the junction box.

3. Unscrew the Fixture

Replacing a light fixture is a simple way to give your home a fresh new look. However, there are some steps you must take to ensure your safety and the integrity of your house's wiring. The first step is to shut off power to the fixture at the breaker box. It is also a good idea to turn off the lights in the room you're working in so that you don't accidentally trip the switch and knock over your new fixture.

Once the power is turned off, you can begin removing your old fixture. This may require unscrewing a few screws or pulling up on the fixture. It's a good idea to have a second person with you for this project to help hold the ladder you're standing on, pass you tools and even just to make sure you are not accidentally touching live wires.

Once the fixture is removed, you can begin removing the electrical wires from the junction box. Use a wire stripper to remove the insulation from each of the black (hot) and white (neutral) wires and then connect like wires together. You will also need to disconnect the copper grounding wire from the mounting strap or from the circuit grounding wire if there is one.

4. Remove the Screws

When you remove the plate or decorative piece and the screws that held it to the ceiling, the wiring should be exposed. The standard junction box for light fixtures typically has three wires – one black or red, one white and one green (or copper). Use your voltage tester to ensure there’s no current running through the wires. If there is, shut off power at the breaker before proceeding.

Each fixture has a slightly different way of connecting to the ceiling and the electrical box. Some will have a screw in the center of the cover, others have a plate that ties it to the ceiling and still others will simply hang from the screw collar loop attached to the top of the junction box. It’s always a good idea to have someone help you with this process, especially if you’re working high up on a ladder.

When you’re connecting your new fixture, it’s best to start with a clean slate. That means disconnecting the old wires from the junction box. Using the wire strippers, cut off any insulation that is covering the wires and then use your pliers to untwist the wire connectors. If you’re connecting a solid-wire to stranded-wire fixture, use the wire connectors to twist like-colored wires together and then cap them with a wire nut.

5. Remove the Switch

Once you’ve removed the plate and decorative piece, the wiring will be capped and should consist of two sets of wires – one with white insulation (this is the neutral wire) and the other with black (the hot wire). It’s a good idea to use a noncontact voltage tester to ensure that there is no current present before you start unscrewing any caps or disconnecting the wires.

Once the wiring is free of the ceiling box, turn off your wall power switch controlling the light fixture. This is an important safety step if there is any chance that someone else could turn the switch on while you are working, such as children or a spouse. You can also shut off your main breaker at the breaker panel, which is even better if you want to be extra safe.

Locate a source of power for the switch, either at a junction box in the ceiling or at your breaker panel. Shut off the breaker that controls the area you’re working in (if there is a separate breaker for lighting, this would be ideal) and trace the electrical box where you’d like the new fixture to be mounted.

6. Install the Fixture

A light fixture can be the finishing touch to a room. It can also be a major headache when it's not installed correctly. That's why you should always consult an electrician to install ceiling lighting. They will know the code requirements and be able to help you with any problems that might arise during the installation process.

Installing a light fixture isn't as difficult as it may seem. It's important to follow the instructions that came with your fixture, as each one is different. Make sure the light is compatible with your voltage and wattage needs. You can find this information by referring to the label on the junction box or checking online.

If you're replacing an existing fixture, the wiring will already be in place. However, if you're installing a new fixture, the electrician will need to tap into your home's existing wiring through a junction box. They will use a noncontact voltage tester to check for live wires.

Once they've made the connections, they can install your new fixture. They'll secure it to the ceiling with screws and connect the copper, black, and white wires. Be sure to match the color of the wires and use wire connectors to prevent any loose ends from causing a short circuit.

7. Connect the Wires

Depending on your fixture type, you may need to make additional wiring connections in the ceiling. If you’re installing a new light in the ceiling, use a stud finder to mark the location of the studs and then drill a 4-inch hole with an electric drill. Wear thick protective gloves and carefully reach up to push insulation out of the way, creating space for the surface mount electrical box for light fixtures.

If you’re changing an existing fixture, start by locating the old light junction box and shutting off power to it (use a circuit tester to be sure). Next, unscrew the central mounting nut and pull the fixture from the ceiling plate or center post.

You’ll see two thick wires connecting the fixture to your house: the black wire and the white (neutral) wire. Touch the ends of each to determine which one is hot and which is neutral (if you have lamp cord wire, the distinction will be based on texture rather than color).

Unscrew any screw or lock nut that holds the grounding wire, then touch it with your multimeter to test for resistance. If the reading is zero, you’ve found the grounding wire, which should connect to a green screw in your junction box or to a dedicated copper wire coming from the ceiling.

Installing lighting fixtures can improve the appearance of a room and increase home value. However, there are some things to keep in mind before attempting to install a light fixture yourself. Always shut off power to the junction box at your breaker panel and confirm that it is off with a noncontact voltage tester before…