How To Install A Hanging Light Fixture

AAA Print

Installing a light fixture yourself is a great way to save on the cost of your home improvement project. Professionals will charge at least $100 for their time and services, when all you need to do it yourself is a ladder, wire stripper, electric drill and an hour of your time. To save even more money, consider using CFL light bulbs instead of standard bulbs, lowering your electricity consumption and cost. If you're removing an older fixture that's still in good working order, then consider donating it to charity or recycling the metal and glass parts. Even if you don't get any money for it, your planet will thank you.

Before you start, make sure the junction box that holds the chandelier or pendant in place is capable of supporting the weight of your new fixture. Not all junction boxes are created equal, so check the settings of the box and the corresponding information on your new decoration. Also, inventory all parts and instructions before starting your installation. The last thing you want is to be missing a piece while you're holding a chandelier over your head.

For safety, turn off all electrical power to the fixture at the electrical panel and use the appropriate testing device to ensure that no power is present at the fixture before you begin. Do not rely on a wall switch to protect you from electrical shock. If you are adding a new light fixture where one didn't currently exist, consult your local building department ahead of time to determine if you need a permit to do so.

Step 1: Assemble the canopy and hanging hardware.

Set aside any components of the device that can be installed after the fixture is already hanging, such as globes, glass panels, light bulbs and the like. Follow the specific instructions provided with the fixture you purchased. Remember to slide any necessary parts over the wiring and hanging chain. Support he fixture close to the ceiling by screwing a platform to the top of a step ladder with a few drywall screws. This provides a good work surface and should put the chandelier close enough to the ceiling to allow you to do the wiring without have to hold the chandelier in the air. Having a second person on a separate ladder nearby may also work, but it can be difficult to coordinate your movements when handling a heavy fixture. Fixtures usually come with a new mounting strap, which is a strip of metal that screws in to the junction box in your ceiling. You can often use the existing strap, but if not, then unscrew the old strap and screw the new one into place.

Step 2: Connect the wiring.

Check the supply wires for fraying or damage. If necessary, cut the wires and strip off about ¾ inch of insulation. Newer fixtures have a black wire and a white wire. Twist the bare end of the black supply wire together with the bare end of the black fixture wire, then twist on a wire nut. Repeat with the white wires. Carefully tuck the wires into the junction box. Put a bulb in the fixture and check that connections work before finishing your installation. If you are re-installing an older fixture, than you may find that the fixture wires aren't color coded. In this case, simply choose on fixture wire and connect it to the black supply wire and connect the other fixture wire to the white supply wire, then complete the remaining steps to test the device.

Step 3: Hang the fixture.

Thread the fixture's mounting stem into the mounting strap on the ceiling box. Although the fixture is now securely hanging from the ceiling, the box and mounting hardware are still visible. Slide the canopy up against the ceiling to cover the mounting hardware. Tighten the locknut against the canopy.

Last Updated: July 23, 2012
AAA Print

About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.