Light Fixture Installation Basics

Getting tired of that old dingy light fixture hanging up there on your ceiling? Maybe it’s time to get rid of the old and install a new style lighting fixture. Recently a friend of mine bought a new house. She disliked the older seventies style lights installed in all the rooms. So she purchased some new contemporary style lighting for her new home. Gladly I assisted her with installing the new lights.

There are several different types of fixtures out there. Incandescent fixtures use filament light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs work too within these fixtures, you know, the energy saving screw in type. Then there are the strictly Fluorescent type of fixtures. Primarily we will deal with incandescent style fixtures for this article. Fluorescent types are similar, yet a bit more involved. So here we go gang.

First of all, personal taste will need to be accessed. With that in mind, go to the lighting Isle of your local store and pick out what you would like to see in your room for the next few years. Then buy it. Ok, just to make this a bit easier, we will say that this fixture is for the bedroom. The old one just had to go. So, lets say you purchase a chandelier style fixture. I have seen this done, however, with chandeliers, you have high maintenance and the possibility of hitting the fixture with a pillow or something. Bad idea, so, then we get a dome style fixture with two sockets for two bulbs. Perfect. Now, once you have considered all the options, gone up and down the Isle for that perfect light, lets install it!

Safety first, the power to the light needs to be locked out, or locked in the off position so that no one can turn it on while you are working on it. NOW, I had one fella who thought just turning off the switch was good enough, however, he forgot to tell his pet dog. Yes, his dog, who apparently thought it was too dark in the room and turned on the switch while he was holding the black wire. OUCH! So preferably you shut off the breaker that feeds the bedroom lights. Ok, once you have assured that the power is off and the light in room is off you can start. With a screw driver in hand and a safe ladder to get you up there, lets remove the old fixture.

First remove the globe or dome or canopy that shrouds the light bulb. Be careful, most are made of glass. Once removed, take out the bulbs and place them aside too. Now look for either a single nut or a pair of screws that are holding the fixture to the ceiling box. Remove the screws and the body of the old fixture from the ceiling. Oh, you say there are wires connected to it, fantastic. Remove the wires but remember what colors went where. First remove the red or black hot wire by unscrewing the wire nut. Once disconnected, use the wire nut to recover the hot wire hanging from your ceiling box. Now remove the white wire, this is your neutral wire. Again, cover the lead coming from the box. Now lastly remove the copper colored or green wire, this will be your ground wire. Ok, you are doing great. Put the old fixture aside. I know you have already opened your new light because thats what people do. We love to open presents, and get new stuff. I know I do.

Up above your head, in your ceiling you should have three wires ready to be reconnected. Also you should have a new fixture hanger device in with your new package. If your old light already had one, great, it is already installed. If not you will have to put the new one in. It looks like a pivot with screws on both ends. These allow for adjustment of your new fixture. Install this hanger using two screws provided or use your old ones. Once you have the pivot installed it should have two screws dropping down for you to connect your new base. Next it’s time to connect the green wire. Your fixture probably has a bare copper wire available for the grounding. Then connect the white to the white. You can use the old nuts, or the new wire nuts if you prefer. Then connect the black or red wire. Now make sure your connections are tight. Tug on the wires, trying to pull them out of the wirenut. This will assure a solid connection. If it pulls out, reconnect it and pull again. Strike three is better than a house fire, so reconnect it again and try to make it very tight. Once its wired, you can mount the base to the ceiling now. This can be very tricky and even frustrating. Be patient and get the screws through the insulation and twist the base to lock the screws in place, then gently tighten them just enough to hold the fixture snug to your ceiling.

Almost done, screw in your bulbs, attach your dome or globe. Now turn your circuit back on and test it out. Hopefully you can now embellish in your success.