How to Change a Light Fixture Without Getting Shocked

Do I need an electrician to change a light fixture?

Typically no. If you already have an existing light fixture that works well, and you can reach it easily with a step stool or a ladder, then replacing it with a new fixture is a pretty easy wiring process. 

Still, there are a couple of instances when leaving the job to a pro makes more sense:

  • If you know your house has aluminum wiring, you’ll want to leave it to a licensed electrician familiar with that kind of wiring.
  • If the new fixture is too big or heavy for you to install safely, you’ll want to have a second pair of hands helping, or hire an electrician.
  • Lastly, homes built before 1985 have wiring that isn’t always comparable to modern light fixtures, which might generate too much heat for the insulation wrapped around the wires. If this describes your house, shop for a fixture that does not include a sticker saying it’s approved for use with wire rated to at least 90 degrees C.

How to change a light fixture step-by-step

Once you’re confident your project is a good DIY candidate and you have the proper tools in place, here’s how to go about changing the light fixture. 


Step 5: Connect With Wire Nuts

To avoid straining the connections, temporarily hang the new fixture from the box with the bent coat hanger. Beginning with the uninsulated or green insulated copper grounds, hold the stripped ends side by side and twist on a wire nut, turning it clockwise. Connect the white wire to the white wire and the black to the black.

Note The Wire Colors And Placement

Modern light fixtures typically have one black wire and one white wire, as well as one green grounding wire. If the wires sticking out of your ceiling are black and white, things just got easier. If your home has older wiring, often in the form of copper wires without differentiated coating, then you must carefully note the colors of the wiring in the fixture you just removed. Make sure when you attach the new fixture, its black wire connects where the old black wire was, e.g. You can (and should) temporarily mark the wires with painter’s tape.

Step 8: Install The Bulbs And Globe

Check the fixture base to determine the maximum wattage bulb that can be installed. After screwing in the proper bulb, restore power and test.

Connect The Plate

In a perfect world, there will be holes in the electrical box that perfectly align with holes in your new light fixture. In the real world, you might have to get creative here. You can screw into wood, drill your own holes into metal, and so forth — most light fixtures aren’t that heavy, just make sure the plate is secure and make sure not to screw with any wires, so to speak.


  • Poor electrical work leads to fires. Make sure all wires are well connected before turning on a light. Also, use bulbs with the correct wattage to avoid overheating light fixtures.

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  • Working with ceiling lights is potentially dangerous. Avoid electrical shocks by shutting off the electricity before touching wires.

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