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Change a Light Fixture

Update a room quickly by changing the light fixture. Add a chandelier, pendant light, wall sconce, track light and more. Learn how to chance a light fixture with these easy steps.

Chandelier light fixture.

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Changing a Light Fixture

Replacing an existing fixture uses simple electrical skills that can be applied to other relatively easy projects such as replacing outlets or light switches. But remember, as with any electrical project, caution is the rule of the day.


Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and safety. Check to see if you need a permit. Observe applicable building and electrical codes. Contact a licensed electrician if you have any doubts or questions about the connections, or if your home's wiring doesn't appear compatible with the changes you're making.

Step 1

Turn off the power. In your electrical circuit panel, locate the circuit breaker control for the room where you’ll be working, and switch the circuit off.

If the circuits in your panel aren't labeled, turn on the existing light, and turn off the power to each circuit until the light goes out. Leave the power off, and label this circuit breaker for future reference. Also turn off the light's wall switch.   

Watch our DIY Baasics video: What's In My Breaker Box?

Step 2

Remove the old fixture. Remove the cover of the old fixture. Remove the old wire connectors, and untwist the fixture wires from the installed wires. Remove the base or trim from the old fixture.

Step 3

Tighten the screws. Check the electrical box in the ceiling where the fixture is attached to see if it's loose. If so, tighten the screws holding it in place, but don't over-tighten. The box must be acceptable for use with your light fixture and be securely attached to the building structure to support the weight of the fixture.  It must also be grounded, or attached to a ground wire in the ceiling. If you have doubts about the suitability of the existing box, purchase and install a new one. Watch our Video: How Do I Strip a Wire?

Step 4

Electrical box with wiring.

Connect the wires. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for matching the wires on the new fixture to the wires installed in your home.

Typically, the black wires connect to each other, and the white wires connect to each other. A grounding wire, which is often green, connects to a grounding screw on the grounding bar. Use a wire stripper to remove the protective coating of the wires on the fixture. Wrap the bare section of each fixture wire to the bare section of its corresponding installed wire, and screw on the wire connectors. Connect the grounding wire. Watch our Video: How Do I Connect Two Wires?

Step 5

Secure the base or canopy. Fold the wires into the electrical box or into a void in the base or canopy. Use the included hardware to attach the fixture base or canopy to the electrical box.

Have a helper nearby in case you need a third hand, especially if you’re replacing a fixture on a high ceiling.

Step 6

Install the bulbs. Install the recommended bulbs with the correct wattage for the fixture. Now's a good time to upgrade to a more efficient bulb such as LED.

Turn on the circuit at your electrical panel first, and then turn on the light switch to the fixture. If the light doesn't come on, turn off the switch and the circuit, and then check your wiring connections.

Step 7

Install the trim and cover. Attach the trim and cover to your light fixture. If your fixture is a pendant or hangs by a chain, make necessary adjustments to the length.