How to Install a Ceiling Light With a Crossbar

Written by markg
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How to Install a Ceiling Light With a Crossbar
Heavier light fixtures require a brace bar for support. (cyan fluo lamp image by rmarinello from

Although smaller light fixtures can be attached to junction boxes affixed to ceiling joists, heavier fixtures require the use of a brace bar for support. The brace bar, or crossbar, spans the hole for the fixture and is attached at both ends to the ceiling joists. Do not rely on the ceiling to support any light fixture. Hanging a fixture supported by a brace bar is a simple project that can easily be accomplished in an afternoon.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Utility knife or keyhole saw
  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Electrical wiring
  • Connectors
  • Wire strippers
  • Light fixture
  • Drywall repair kit

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  1. 1

    Cut the power to the room at the circuit box.

    Make the cuts in the ceiling and wall for the light fixture and the switch. The hole for the fixture should be at least 6 inches in diameter to allow for work on the fixture's brace bar and junction box, and should be between two joists above the ceiling. Make a small access hole directly above the switch hole for feeding the cable.

  2. 2

    Insert the fixture brace bar through the hole. Use a telescoping brace bar to account for any variations in the distance between joists or to position the fixture for aesthetic reasons. The ends of the brace bar are bent at a 90-degree angle to the bar. Affix the ends of the bar to the joists with screws.

  3. 3

    Remove the knockouts in the junction box by popping them out with a hammer and chisel. Attach the junction box to the brace bar using the hardware that comes with the box. Usually this is a U-shaped attachment with screws.

  4. 4

    Run the wiring from the power supply receptacle to the switch. The best way to do this is by removing the baseboards between the receptacle and the switch and running the wire in the gap between the floor and drywall. Cut small access holes below the switch and receptacle for feeding the wires. Leave about 6 inches of wire exposed at each end.

  5. 5

    Attach the switch box to the wall and remove any knockouts. Feed the wire through the knockout holes.

  6. 6

    Run the wire from the switch to the light fixture hole and through the knockout holes in the junction box.

  7. 7

    Connect the two black wires at the switch to the brass terminals on the switch. Connect the white wires together. Ground the switch to the fixture box.

  8. 8

    Connect the black wire at the fixture to the light's black wire. Connect the white wire to the light's white wire. Ground the fixture to the junction box. Attach the fixture to the junction box according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  9. 9

    Restore power to the circuit and patch the access holes with the drywall patch kit.

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