How to install a ceiling light fixture

Updated February 21, 2017

Installing a ceiling light fixture is a home maintenance item that can be done by the average homeowner with little or no electrical experience. Following simple safety procedures, the typical homeowner can easily learn to remove and replace an inoperative or undesirable ceiling light fixture using simple tools and following easy-to-understand instructions. This home improvement can be completed in 15 minutes or less and result in a dramatic improvement in a room's appearance and functionality.

Remove existing light

Turn off power to light fixture at the circuit box.

Remove light bulbs and globes from existing fixture.

Locate screws that secure the fixture base to the ceiling and, while supporting fixture base with one hand, remove securing screws with the other hand.

Lower fixture from the ceiling and remove the wire nuts that splice together the pairs of white and black wires and the bare copper wires in the light fixture to the wires leading from the terminal box in the ceiling. Set aside old fixture.

New light

Hold new light fixture in position 10 cm (4 inches) below the ceiling terminal box and, using the free hand, join the black wire of the fixture to the black wire in the terminal box and twist the 2 wires together in a clockwise direction.

Lock the paired wires together using a wire nut inserted over the 2 paired wires and twisting the nut in a clockwise direction until it can be turned no further.

Repeat step 1 and step 2 to join the 2 white and 2 copper wires.

Push the 3 pairs of joined wires and wire nuts up and into the ceiling wire terminal box.

Position the new light fixture over the securing screws in the wire terminal box and lock down by replacing and tightening the nuts provided with the new fixture.

Install globes or decorative bulb shields, and secure in position around bulb socket by tightening 3 screws around perimeter of each socket.

Insert required number of light bulbs.

Turn on circuit breaker.


Always turn off circuit breaker before working on house wiring.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 replacement light fixture
  • 1 flat head screwdriver
  • Light bulbs to match fixture's requirement
  • 3 wire nuts
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About the Author

Josh Weber is a retired industrial engineer. He has called on his engineering experience to write how-to articles for Associated Content, Demand Stuios and a business publication, "The Oyster Pointer." He is a graduate of The Virginia Military Institute and has a B.A. in economics and history.