How to hook up fluorescent lights

Written by elizabeth knoll
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Fluorescent lights provide a fair amount of light for the amount of power they consume. Use them in your basement for bright lighting since it likely lacks natural light from windows. They are also useful in garages and shops. Fluorescent lights wire into the electrical circuit like any other light. They have a hot, neutral and ground wire. Hook them up to a switched circuit for switch control of the light.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Circuit tester
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Screws or toggle bolts
  • Cordless drill
  • Wire stripper/cutter
  • Lineman pliers
  • Wire nuts
  • Fluorescent bulbs

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  1. 1

    Turn off the electricity to the area where you will be working. Use a circuit tester on all wires prior to touching them, to ensure no current is flowing.

  2. 2

    Open up the fluorescent fixture. Read the instruction manual for your individual fixture and make any required internal connections.

  3. 3

    Remove the knockout on the top of the fluorescent fixture. Align the knockout with the ceiling box and pull the wiring through the knockout.

  4. 4

    Screw the fluorescent fixture into the surrounding ceiling joists through the fixture's metal canopy. If your house has no joists near the fixture, use toggle bolts meant for drywall to hold the fixture tight to the ceiling.

  5. 5

    Cut and strip the circuit's wires. Six inches of wire penetrating into the light fixture is ideal. Strip the wires to expose 1/2 inch of bare copper wire.

  6. 6

    Twist the black lead from the fluorescent fixture to the black lead from the wiring circuit. Screw on a wire nut. Twist the white lead from the fixture to the white lead from the wiring circuit. Screw on another wire nut. Wrap the green (ground) wire from the circuit around the green grounding screw in the fixture and tighten the screw.

  7. 7

    Install the fluorescent tubes. Depending on the fixture, they will either install by sliding into the slot and then twisting or they will fasten into place via a spring-loaded holder. Refer to the instruction manual for your individual light.

  8. 8

    Attach the diffuser cover (if applicable). Typically, these snap into place on the light to allow for quick removal later on for changing bulbs.

Tips and warnings

  • Review the instructions carefully for your individual fluorescent light to verify the instructions before installing. Each light may vary slightly from others.

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