How to Replace a Ceiling Light

These directions apply generally to all ceiling-mounted fixtures. Having a helper on a second ladder makes this job a lot easier.

Turn off the power to the light at the main circuit breaker or fuse box.

Remove all the screws securing the old fixture to the ceiling. Use a screwdriver and hold the fixture from the bottom as you work.

Lower the light a few inches to expose the wires, then unscrew the wire nuts connecting the wires coming out of the wall to the old light.

Set the old light aside.

Remove 1/2 inch of insulation from the wire ends of the new fixture with a wire stripper.

Lift the fixture into place and, using wire nuts, splice together the new fixture's neutral (white or gray) wires and the incoming neutral wires, and the fixture's and incoming hot wires (any color except green, white or gray).

Join the fixture to the grounding wires in the box if it also has a grounding wire (green or bare copper).

Tug on the wires to make sure all connections are secure.

Tuck the wires into the ceiling box and screw on the new light. If the new light's mounting holes don't match up with those of the old one, you may have to drill new holes.

Turn the power back on at the main circuit breaker or fuse box.

Things You Will Need

  • Ceiling Lights
  • Ladders
  • Slotted Screwdrivers
  • Wire Nuts
  • Wire Strippers


  • To make sure you shut off power to the proper circuit before working on the fixture, turn on the old light before shutting off power to the circuit. If the light is still on after you remove a fuse or switch off a circuit breaker, you've shut off the wrong circuit.
  • It's also a good idea to indicate with a note on the breaker box that you are working with the electrical system.


  • Always shut off power to a circuit before doing any electrical work on it.
  • If you are unsure about your abilities or about any aspect of the project, call an electrician.
  • If you have someone helping you, use two ladders - it isn't safe for two people to stand on one ladder.

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