Ceiling lights are a must-have feature in any room. Whether you don’t like the previous homeowner’s taste or you’re just ready for an update, ceiling lights can revitalize your home space. It may be even easier than you think–just follow these steps to safely switch out those old light fixtures for a new look.
What you’ll need:
- Step ladder
- Voltage detector
You may also need:
- Wire cutters
- Wire strippers
- Painter’s tape
- An extra set of hands
Part 1: Remove Old Fixture
Step 1: Turn off power
Shutting off the electricity is important to your safety. Locate the switchboard for the room you are working in and flip the switch. If you’re not sure where the switchboard is, check the basement or garage. It might also be in the front of the house or near the entrance.
Once you’ve flipped the switch for the room with the ceiling light, go back into the room and flip the switch a few times to make sure the power is off. Then, leave the light switch in the off position. Make sure you lock the circuit box or leave a note indicating that you are working.
Step 2: Remove cover and bulbs
Use a stable step ladder to reach your ceiling light. Hold the cover, or the visible, outside piece of the light fixture, in place with one hand. Loosen the screws with a screwdriver in the other. (For heavy or large fixtures, it’s best to have someone else hold on while you work on the screws.
Once the cover is removed, unscrew the light bulbs and set them aside.
Step 3: Lower the fixture base
With the cover removed, you will be able to see the base–the part of the light fixture that attaches directly to the ceiling. Typically, the base will have tabs or nuts and screws securing it. Loosen the nuts or screws, then lower the base to access the wiring (In the rare case you’re unable to find the screws, search for the installation manual online. You can also take a picture of your base and bring it into our showroom – we’ll take a look and help you figure it out!)
Until you have disconnected the wiring, you will want to lower the base but not remove it completely—an easy way to do this is by securing it with painter’s tape or having someone else hold it in place.
Step 4: Disconnect the wires
Once you have uncovered the space behind the old light fixture, there should be a junction box where wires are connected and stored. Start by removing the caps or tape covering the wire connections. The caps will come off when twisted counterclockwise.
Pro Tip: Take a picture beforehand so you can remember exactly how everything was put together.
Part 2: Connect the Wiring
Step 1: Test voltage
Test each exposed wire by touching it with the tip of your voltage detector.
If the voltage detector lights up, there is a current running through, and the wire is unsafe to touch. Double-check your circuit box and ensure the switch is still flipped.
Once you’re sure there is no electrical current, you are safe to continue working with the wires.
Untangle the wires and detach the fixture from the ceiling completely. Either hand off to someone below or carefully carry it down the ladder.
Step 2: Check wires
Frayed wires can be hazardous -if there is any fraying on the end of the wires, trim them down with wire cutters. Then, strip off any insulation on the outside with wire strippers. You only need to strip about ½ inch of insulation for the wire connection.
Pro Tip: Check your new fixture’s installation recommendations carefully. If you’re installing a heavy fixture such as a ceiling fan or chandelier, you may also need to install an additional support in the ceiling.
Step 3: Match and Attach
Electrical wires are color-coded. Black or red are hot wires, white is neutral, and green or bare copper are ground wires. A grounding wire sometimes connects to a grounding screw instead of another wire. Look for a matching wire in your ceiling for each wire in your fixture.
Twist together each matching wire. Either by hand or with pliers, hold the exposed ends side by side with one hand and twist with the other. (This is where your picture of the original fixture’s wiring comes in handy.)
Now that the wires are connected, it’s important to cover the exposed ends again. Screw the wire caps on by twisting clockwise over the connected ends until they hold the wires tightly in place. If your original fixture didn’t have wire caps, you can use electrical tape as well.
Make sure to check the owner’s manual for specific instructions—for example, you might have an extra red wire that connects to a black wire. If you don’t have any instructions, generally you will be fine with just matching the correct wire colors.
Part 3: Install New Fixture
Step 1: Replace junction box
With all your wiring safe and sound, the junction box is ready to be put back into place. Tighten the screws securely against the bracket until Fold the wires up into the box so they will be hidden behind the ceiling light.
Step 2: Attach new fixture
There are several different ways your new light fixture base could attach to the ceiling—these are the most common ways. As always, check the owner’s manual for anything specific or unique about your light.
Securely attach the light base by positioning it over the mounting screws. Place a metal nut on each screw and twist by hand until they are tightly holding the base in place.
If the fixture has a mounting bracket, connect the mounting bracket to the junction box first, then hang the base over the screws.
If it’s a keyhole shape, adjust the base so the screws slide into the smaller grooves and then tighten the screws with a screwdriver until they are holding the base securely.
Step 3: Install light bulbs
Now that your base is set, it’s time to add the light bulbs. Make sure you have the correct wattage—the fixture typically indicates its maximum wattage on the package or owner’s manual.
When choosing which bulbs to use, the lower the wattage the safer. Most light fixtures are safe with up to 60 watt incandescent bulbs. You may also want to consider more eco-friendly choices, such as CFL or LED bulbs. These options have lower wattage but produce the same amount of lighting, saving you money on electricity in the long run.
Test the bulbs by turning the electricity back on—flip the switch on the circuit breaker then turn on the room light switch. If it is flickering, dim, or not turning on at all, turn the electricity off again and check everything—look for loose connections or mismatched wires. If your lights are bright and solid, you are ready for the final step.
Step 5: Attach cover
Flip the light switch and circuit breaker back off before installing anything else. Take your light fixture’s shade, cover, or top and climb back up the ladder. Attach it to the base by twisting screws or attaching pieces until everything is tight and secure. If it’s a hanging light, make sure it’s at the proper height before finishing your work. Every light has different connecting components, so check your owner’s manual and just make sure it’s snug.
And there you have it, your guide for installing a new, updated ceiling light. Now that you know how to install it, make sure to visit our showroom to choose the perfect fixture for your ceiling!