How to Install a Ceiling Light

Electrical DIY projects have always really scared me. Even more so than plumbing projects (although, we’re slowly working on doing more of those). But I’m finally getting over my fear and tackling some lighting DIY’s around our home. And guess what? It’s really not that scary. In fact, in most cases it can be pretty darn simple to swap out electrical fixtures all by yourself.

I recently changed out the light fixture in our guest room. Here’s what we had in there before…light-fixture-before

…not the cutest fixture there ever was. Plus, it didn’t emit a ton of light. And now that our walls are dark navy, we need all the light we can get in that space.

light-fixture-aged-brassI found this fixture on, and immediately knew it would be the perfect replacement for our old light. I went with the 16.75″ fixture in aged brass. The curvy lines, the metallic sheen, the size…all spot on. The moment it arrived I was eager to get it up and in the room for good.

Here’s how the installation went down.

SUPPLIESscrewdriver and wrench to install a ceiling light

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • New light & accompanying parts

Before you begin, make sure you turn the power OFF and double-check that no electricity is going to the fixture! That’s pretty much the most important step of this entire project.

old-light-fixture-beforeStep 1: I removed the cover of the old light and took the bulbs out.electrical-wiresStep 2: Then I unscrewed the light fixture base, and took note of the wire connections.

Rookie Tip: Take a picture of the connections with your phone, so you’ll easily be able to reference how everything was connected. 

Now, most light fixtures will consist of a few key wires. There may be others up in the electrical box, but you’ll want to look for the following…

  • WHITE = Neutral
  • COLORED (usually black) = Hot
  • BRASS (or green) = Ground

There were 2 black wires from the old fixture connected to an orange wire. These were the hot wires. Then, I had 2 white wires connected. These were the neutral wires.  The light fixture also had a brass wire (grounding wire) connected to the green screw on the metal mounting strap. I took note of the connections, and then unscrewed the wire nuts and unwound the wires from one another. Next, I unscrewed the metal strap from the electrical box and removed it. electrical-wires-lightingWith everything removed, I got my new light fixture ready. new-light-fixture-boxnew-t-bar-fixtureinstalling-light-fixtureSTEP 3: The new fixture came with a new (more heavy duty) base plate. So I screwed that into the electrical box, making sure my wires were still accessible. lighting-electrical-wiresSTEP 4: Take note of the wires on your light fixture. Mine had a white, black, and brass. So I knew my gameplan would be to connect white to white, black to orange, and then take the brass and wrap it around the green screw on the base plate.

Okay…now is the time when you might want to enlist a friend for help because it can be hard to hold your new fixture up while also making all of the wire connections. Luckily Mr. Finn was around and eager to help out. He was able to hold the super heavy new fixture, while I got to work connecting the wires. wire-nuts

STEP 5: I made my wire connections, making sure to fully twist the wires together and cap them off with a wire nut. When it comes to the brass wire, you’ll just wrap it a couple of times around the green grounding screw. new-guest-room-light-installationSTEP 6: With the wires all set, I attached the light fixture to the ceiling and screwed in 3 bulbs. Really, I just followed the directions that came along with the light. how to install a ceiling lightRookie Tip: Before putting the cover on the fixture, turn the power back on and test the light. You don’t want to get the light all set & tightened, only to have to re-do your work if something didn’t connect right. 

Luckily, ours worked so we were able to finish the light installation using the directions. new-ceiling-lightguest-room-ceiling-lightNot only was I super proud of myself at this point (Electrical Project….CHECK!), but I was also in awe of this gorgeous fixture next to our new navy walls. The gold & white paired with the navy….swoon!new-ceiling-light-guest-room

Plus, I love how high-end and glam it looks without being over the top. It’s a nice understated, (yet elegant) fixture. And this baby emits a lot of light, which really brightens up this moody space. guest-room-ceiling-lightSo, just goes to show that you don’t always need to call an electrician to swap out simple fixtures in your space. Yes, sometimes you need a pro to get the job done right (& safely!), but for something like this you can absolutely do it yourself. I’m telling you, if I can do it then anyone can do it!

light_fixture_installation_tutorialOn Friday, I’ll show you our new wall sconces as well as a big DIY FAIL in the guest room. Yep, big, fat, fail coming your way at the end of the week.