How to Wire Ceiling Lights

Ceiling lights.
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-50
What You'll Need
Ceiling light fixture
Electricity tester
Wire strippers or cutters
Wire nuts

Wiring ceiling lights can be relatively easy if you take the necessary safety precautions and follow the instructions given to you with the ceiling light fixture. While there are different variations, ceiling lights are usually simple to install or replace.

Step 1 - Read Ceiling Lights Instructions

When purchasing and replacing ceiling lights, it’s important to read all the instructions and make sure all the parts are in the box before you begin to hook everything up. This prep work will assure your safety and time and money if you’re missing parts or if you ruin something. This will also let you know if the wiring varies in any way from the wiring in most standard ceiling lights.

Step 2 - Take Safety Precautions

It’s very important to make sure you have the electricity to the light fixture shut off before you wire the ceiling lights. Have someone help you by turning off the correct lights at the circuit breaker. If you want to double check, you can use an electrical tester with the white and black wires to make sure no electricity is running through them. If this step is not taken, you could be severely shocked.

Step 3 - Trim the Wire

Begin by focusing on the existing wiring coming from the ceiling. Make sure 1/2 inch of wire is showing on both the black and white wires. You can use wire strippers to do this. Usually, with ceiling lights, you’ll be connecting a white or neutral wire, a black wire, and a ground wire. You’ll also need to strip about a 1/2 inch of wire on the light fixture itself to be able to connect the wires together with a wire nut.

Step 4 - Attach the Wires

Most ceiling lights have wires that are color-coded. The white wire of the ceiling light will be attached to the white wire coming from the mounting bracket; the black wire will be connected to the black wire. Ground wires are either green or copper and attach to the corresponding wire or to a green screw on the mounting bracket. Do not touch any copper wires you see except for the copper ground wire connected to your ceiling light fixture.

Step 5 - Connect Your Fixture

After you’ve installed and connected your ceiling lights, you have to connect the fixture to the ceiling. Don’t forget to place a light bulb in the socket. Make sure not to remove any insulation on the light fixture, this is to keep the wiring safe from the heat of the light bulb. Once this has happened, you can turn on the power at the circuit breaker to test out your new light fixture. If you have any problems, turn off the power at the circuit breaker before trying to figure out the wiring. Make sure the power is completely off before you make any changes.