How To Install A Ceiling Light Fixture — 8 Simple Steps

A residential ceiling light fixture, no matter how big it is, is not really so difficult to fix, especially when you actually get to it. In this article, we will be telling you how you can install a ceiling light fixture in your home with very easy steps.

How To Install A Ceiling Light Fixture
Photo by Garrett Anderson on Unsplash

Do I Need An Electrician To Change A Light Fixture?

The simple answer to that is no. You don’t necessarily need the services of an electrician or a repairman to change light fixtures.

But it is very much dependent on you. Figuring out how to change a light fitting is not that big of a deal if you are a handy person and can follow simple steps like the ones we will be giving here today.

However, if you get nervous around electrical wires, or perhaps an electrical box gives you anxiety, then you may actually need an electrician to replace your ceiling fixture to avoid any disaster, lol.

But well, hopefully, going through this article helps you see that having to replace your ceiling light fixture on your own is not that frightening, and you can actually face those wires head on. Lol!

Stuff You Might Need

Now, before you go on to install your new fixture, here are some things you might need to have available:

An Extra Pair Of Hands: if the light fixture you are about to put up is a pretty big one, then you might need someone else to be there to assist with carrying and holding some stuff while you work.

More especially, if you are looking to replace a ceiling fixture — that is, you are taking out an old one and installing a new one immediately — then it would be important that you do not do it alone.

A Step ladder: of course, if you are trying to fix something in the ceiling, you would need a step ladder. But well, if that is not available, then perhaps a table or a stool would suffice.

But please, make sure to check that whatever you’re standing on to reach the ceiling is firm and stable so that you don’t lose balance and come crashing down. That, of course, would be very disastrous.

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A screwdriver: of course, you know that mounting light fixtures on your ceiling will require that you screw and unscrew a couple of times. Therefore, you definitely will require a screwdriver. 

It may be a light tester screwdriver (useful for wires in the electrical box), or just a regular one to screw with if you don’t have that.

Voltage tester: if you got the regular screwdriver, this might be necessary to test the wires in the electrical box for light.

Or well, if you cannot get a tester, you could just cut off power to the entire apartment until you’re done mounting your fixture.

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Wire stripper: this will be useful if/when you have to cut wires. Or maybe for just bending or twisting the wires safely.

How To Install A Light Fixture

Now, let us get to the actual business of the day. Below are simple steps to follow to uninstall an old ceiling light fixture and replace with a new one.

1. Turn Off The Power

Live wires can be very dangerous, and in many cases, contact with them have been fatal. So, before you begin anything, make sure to turn off the power at the source.

Go to the fuse box and turn off the circuit breaker for the room where you are about to install your new light fixture.

Let this always be the very first thing you do so that you avoid any possibility of being electrocuted.

If you do not know where your electrical panel is or you don’t know what switch to hit to turn it off, then you could just cut off power to the entire house till you’re done with your installation. This way, you are sure that all the wires are dead.

2. Take Out The Light Bulbs From The Old Fixture

Photo by Federica Giusti on Unsplash

Step 2 is to carefully take out the light bulb covers and the bulbs themselves from the fixture and carefully set them down. 

This will help you focus on the fixture itself without unnecessary encumbrances. 

Of course, if the bulbs are still functioning, you could keep them for use in another fixture.

3. Unscrew The Canopy

This is where your screwdriver will be of use. Removing the old ceiling fixture will require that you remove the fixture canopy by undoing the screws (or nuts).

The canopy is basically the base of the fixture. It is that rounded plate-like covering that conceals the ceiling lighting wiring. So, to get to the wires, you would have to unscrew the canopy and let it drop.   

4. Unscrew The Wire Nuts And Disconnect The Wires

When you have loosened the canopy, you will be greeted by three pairs of wires in the junction box; black wires, white wires, and then copper (or green) wires, each of them joined to their corresponding pair by wire nuts or wire connectors.

Gently unscrew each of these wire nuts (or wire connectors) and separate the fixture wires from the ceiling wiring in the electrical box. 

If it is a really old fixture, you may see a grounding screw in the electrical box. Unscrew that grounding screw and carefully disconnect the green ground wire.

After you have done this, you can now safely remove the old fixture and set it down.

5. Remove And Set Down The Old Fixture

Now, this is where you will really need an extra pair of hands. Remember you are on a ladder at this point. So, if it is a large fixture, setting it down from atop a ladder is really risky business; don’t try it at home!

Instead, just pass it down to your assistant and have them hand over the new ceiling light fixture.

6. Attach The Wires Of The New Fixture

This is where the actual mounting begins.

It only follows that since you had to detach the wires to remove the old one, you, in turn, will have to attach the wires to install a new fixture.

Now, be careful to attach the new fixture wires to their corresponding colors on the ceiling. That is, white wire to white wire, black wire to black wire, and ground wire to ground wire.

A ground wire is usually the color green or it could just be a bare copper wire. Well, here you most likely will be getting the bare grounding wire because green ground wires are common for outdoor usage while the bare ones are common indoors.

Now, use a wire nut (or wire connector) to hold each of the wiring connections. After this, tuck the wires carefully into the junction box.

7. Screw In The New Ceiling Light Fixture Base

The canopy (or fixture base, whichever you choose to call it) goes up next to cover the wiring to give it a presentable look.

Now, screw in the fixture base properly until it is firm against the mounting bracket.

8. Attach Bulbs & Install Fixture Cover

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Now that your new fixture has been properly installed, what is left is for you to attach working bulbs that fit. And finally, try mounting the ceiling light fixture cover. Once that is done, you are good to go.

You can now go to your power source, turn on the circuit breaker, and turn your light switch back on to check if your new lighting installation is working. If it doesn’t produce light, then the problem may be that you got your wiring wrong.

It may also be that, while you were mounting the fixture, you inadvertently pulled out a wire which you didn’t screw in properly.

In that case, you would have to pull down the fixture and make sure that the wires were connected to their right match (i.e black to black, white to white, and so on), and that they were fully and firmly connected, too. 

And there you have it! How to remove old light fixtures and install new ones in 8 easy steps. Hopefully, you are no longer nervous about mounting yours by yourself.

PS: if you have ever thought of replacing your old ceiling fans with a new light fixtures, this article will help you figure out how to.

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