Lighting Fixtures Demystified

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Replacing and updating the lighting fixtures in your home may seem like a big project, but it’s relatively easy to do yourself. Installing new fixtures can completely change the ambiance of a room, contribute to your decorative style, and save energy. Many types of lighting fixtures are available, and are easy enough to install with a basic understanding of electrical wiring. If you are looking to install these types of lighting without previous wiring from old fixtures, seek the assistance of an electrician in order to keep your home safe and up to code. If you simply want to remove your old lighting fixtures and install new ones, here are the basic details about the most common types of lighting fixtures available at your local hardware and lighting stores.

Note: For safety, always make sure to turn the power completely off at the breaker box before removing or installing any of your lighting fixtures, and read all installation instructions before proceeding.

Flush Mount

Flush mount lighting can brighten up any room without taking up much space. Rather than installing a light fixture that hangs or sticks far out of the wall, this type of lighting fixture lays flat against the ceiling or a wall and only a half globe sticks out. These types of light fixtures are commonly installed in bathrooms as the overhead light or in small areas with low ceilings. A variation of this lighting is a ceiling fan.

Most flush lighting fixtures can be installed easily using just a screwdriver, a threaded tube, and the nuts and bolts provided with the mounting materials. Wires that are the same color are connected using cap nuts, and then the light is mounted to the ceiling.

Semi-Flush Lights

Installing semi-flush lighting is very similar to flush mounting, except that the lights protrude from the ceiling and hang lower, which means installation may take a little more time. This type of lighting is used in larger rooms with higher ceilings where the light may need to illuminate a larger space.

Semi-flush lighting can range from short-stemmed lights that barely hang from the ceiling to ones with hanging, chandelier-like attributes. Even though most of the semi-flush lights have the same basic construction of a flush mount, what makes them semi-flush mounts is the placement of the light, which is not flush—lying flat—against the wall. Install them as you would flush mounts.

Pendant Light

Like semi-flush lights, pendant lights hang down from the ceiling with a stem that holds the light fixture, but pendant lights hang lower and are further away from the ceiling. Some pendant lights focus light on a specific area of a space, while others are designed to spread light throughout a room in all directions. Installing pendant lights is easy enough if you’re replacing old lighting with a new pendant light.

To install multiple pendant lights, a lot more electrical work is required, as each one is a separate light fixture. If installing just one pendant light, the installation is much like that for flush lighting—install the pendant fixture in place of the old light by connecting the wires and using the mounting bracket.

Recessed Lights

Recessed lighting is designed to hide in ceilings or walls and barely stick out at all. These are the most modest form of lighting and typically are used to create a very sleek, modern look. Spaces such as art galleries use them, where the lighting should not impact the art or architecture of a space and the lighting is designed to go unnoticed. These lights are also designed for the smallest spaces, where there is literally no room for hanging light fixtures.

Recessed lighting can also be used to add extra lighting to your home if you don’t use the current fixtures in your home. The installation is similar to all the previous types of light fixtures, except that the hole in your ceiling cannot be bigger than the recessed light, but must also be big enough for the mounting and light to fit in. As with the installation of any lighting fixture, be sure to read all instructions first.

Track Lights

If you want multiple lights but don’t want to hang multiple light fixtures (as with pendant lights), track lights are a neat compromise. These are installed as one fixture but have multiple light bulbs that can typically be pointed in different directions. This allows you to illuminate special parts of a room, such as seats at a dining room table or areas of the kitchen counter you use the most.

Mounting track lighting takes a little more work, but the basic installation is the same as other light fixtures.