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The Reliable

How to Replace a Light Fixture

How to Replace a Light Fixture


Replacing an old light fixture provides an easy way to update a room or add ambiance to your home. Learning how to replace or install a light fixture yourself not only saves you money by eliminating installation costs, but it also helps to beautify your room.

Most types of residential light fixtures are not that complicated and require just a few tools to complete the task. However, there are a few types — heavy chandeliers for example — that should be left to the professionals. As with any task requiring you to work with electricity, always take the highest precautions to avoid injury. If you are not completely confident that you understand the directions and know how to proceed safely, call a professional.

What You’ll Need tp Replace Your Light Fixture

Before getting started, gather all the necessary tools required to complete the job. This eliminates distractions and allows you to stay focused on the project. The following list of tools is typically required to replace a light fixture. However, because mounting methods vary between fixture types, you should check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the necessary tools before starting.

  • Stepladder
  • Pair of linesman or electricians pliers
  • Electrical wire nuts
  • Electrical tape
  • Voltage meter
  • Screwdriver

Mounting the Light Fixture

It is important to note that different types of light fixtures have different mounting instructions. The manufacturer’s instructions supersede the general instructions found here. Always follow the instructions precisely.

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker supplying power to the applicable light fixture box. If you are less than 100 percent sure which breaker controls your fixture, turn off the main breaker in the circuit panel box supplying the entire house.
  2. Use a voltage meter to ensure that the electricity is off. Touch the leads from the voltage meter to each wire in the electrical box to verify they are not energized. Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions provided with the voltage meter to ensure safe and proper operation. If the voltage meter indicates that any power is still flowing through the wires, stop work and call a licensed electrician.
  3. Connect the wires from the light fixture to the corresponding wires in the electrical box according to manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, you connect black wires to black, white wires to white and green wires to the ground wire. Use the electrician’s pliers or wire strippers to remove the protective coating on the ends of each wire. Twist the ends of the corresponding wires together, and secure using an electrical wire nut.
  4. Fold the wires into the electrical box or light fixture canopy. Attach the fixture’s mounting bracket or canopy to the electrical box following manufacturer’s instructions and using the included hardware.
  5. Install the light bulbs, and turn on the circuit breaker at the circuit panel box to test the light fixture.

Tips for Successful Installation

Have an assistant on hand to help with the installation. Your assistant can read instructions, hand you tools, and hold a flashlight as needed.

If the light fixture fails to work, turn off the power and check the wiring connections under its canopy.


Wear rubber-soled shoes. Never work around electricity while barefoot. Verify that all wires in the electrical box are dead. It is not unheard of to find two separate circuits in one electrical box.

These basic how to install a light fixture instructions are general and meant for simple light fixture applications. Homeowners in the Atlanta,GA area who are installing heavy light fixtures or have light fixture installations requiring a new circuit should contact a licensed electrical contractor to perform the work.