Changing the Ceiling Light


There are many choices for ceiling lights
Ceiling fixtures are not difficult to replace, and there are many types available. When choosing a fixture you should consider how heavy it is, how much light you want, where you would like the light to be directed and how much headroom you have. Working from a ladder can be challenging, so it's best to follow a few safety precautions. It will also be easier to work if you have the right tools.

Types of Ceiling Fixtures

There is a plethora of choices for ceiling lighting and your choice depends on how much light you need, where you want that light directed and how much headroom you have. Inexpensive dome lights are easy to install and provide a direct source of light for the entire room. Track lighting is a good choice if you would like to have indirect lighting or to highlight specific areas. If you have the headroom available, you may opt for a decorative hanging lamp or a chandelier which can deliver light to a dining or reading area. Recessed lighting is another option and requires no headroom. While they are the most challenging to install, recessed fixtures can all but disappear from view when they are not in use.

Halogen Bulbs

If you desire a higher energy light source, you may want to consider a halogen fixture. Halogen bulbs are smaller and reach much higher temperatures than normal incandescent bulbs, so they must be made from a heat-resistant material like quartz. Because of the higher temperature, the spectrum of light they emit is shifted more towards blue, making the light appear brighter. Halogen bulbs also last longer than normal ones but the high temperature at which they operate makes them somewhat hazardous.


Before you buy a stained glass chandelier, find out how much it weighs and check and whether you have the infrastructure to support it. Lamps that weigh five lbs. of more have to be affixed to an electrical box that is nailed or screwed to a rafter, and lamps weighing more than 50 lbs. require installation of a special support system. If you are planning to recycle an old fixture with a metal cover, be sure that it can be properly grounded. It should have a ground wire or grounding nut attached to it.

Procedure for Installation

Unscrew the nuts holding the light in place and carefully remove it. If it is heavy, support it on the ladder while you insert the ends of the voltage tester into the wire nuts joining the black and white wires to ensure the power is off. Remove the nuts, untwist the wires and remove the lamp. This is a good time to repair paint and drywall that may have come off with the lamp and to examine the condition of the electrical box in the ceiling and to make any necessary repairs. Follow the basic rule that prescribes only connecting wires of the same color and you will have no problem installing the new light. Strip wires with a wire stripper rather than a knife and connect wires by twisting them clockwise with pliers. Screw a wire nut to all but the ground wires and make sure the ground wires are connected to the electrical box in the ceiling, if it is metal.

Safety Tips

Always turn off the power to the light before you begin. It is also important to make sure the ladder you plan to use is tall enough for the job. You shouldn't have to stand any higher on the ladder than the second highest step to work comfortably. Construct scaffolding if you are working in a stairwell. It is a a very good idea to enlist a buddy to help you. Juggling tools and making electrical connections while holding a lamp and standing on a ladder can be precarious and you will feel safer if someone is there to hand you things and hold the ladder.

Choose Your Tools

You will find it much easier to complete the task if you have the right tools and supplies readily accessible in a tool belt. These should include wire strippers, pliers, a utility knife, a voltage tester and a screwdriver. In addition, make sure you have wire nuts of the correct size. The wire in the box may be 12 gauge or 14 gauge (14 gauge is thinner) and the size nut you will need will be different for either. Lastly, be sure you have drywall and carpentry tools if you have to make modifications to the electrical box to support extra weight or you have to prepare an opening for recessed lighting.

Article images courtesy of:
Interior Lights Image by Georgios Alexandris From

Copyright © 2024