How to install ceiling lights

In a room that does not contain overhead lighting, floor lamps and table lamps can be used instead. The drawback to them is that the light that they provide is often limited to a fairly small area, requiring numerous lights in the room. Installing a hanging light fixture on the ceiling can provide light to a much larger area inside the room. You can install the light fixture yourself, but you’ll need to hire an electrician to wire it into your home’s electrical box.

Placing the Fixture and Light Switch

Choose the area of the ceiling where you want to place the light fixture. Choose a spot that meets your needs. For instance, if the fixture is intended to provide light to the entire room, place it near the center of the ceiling. If you want to provide more light to a certain area, such as over a table or kitchen island, place the fixture in that area. Locate the ceiling joists in that area with a stud finder, as the electrical box that the fixture hangs from will attach to the side of the joist. Hold a ceiling electrical box against the ceiling where you will install the fixture and trace the outline of the box. Cut a hole into the ceiling with a drywall saw. Place an old-work electrical box against the wall, between two studs, where you want to install the light switch. Trace the box onto the wall, and cut a hole with the drywall saw.

Installing the Cable

Draw an imaginary line that runs between the ceiling hole and the wall hole, and cut a small hole in the edge of the ceiling along the line. The hole should be big enough to fit your hand. Place the end of an electrician’s fish tape into the hole in the wall. Feed the fish tape up to the hole you cut into the ceiling. Have an assistant direct the fish tape over toward the hole in the ceiling while you continue to feed the line. Attach an electrical cable to the end of the fish tape, and reel the cable through the ceiling and wall to the hole for the light switch, then detach the fish tape. Slide the end of the cable through the knockout hole on the ceiling box, then place the ceiling box inside the ceiling and nail or screw it to the side of the ceiling joist.

Connecting the Wires

Remove 2 inches of the cable sheathing, where it extends from the ceiling, with a pair of wire strippers. Inside the cable are three wires: a black (hot) wire, a white (neutral) wire and a bare copper (ground) wire. Strip an inch of insulation off the black and white wires with the wire strippers. Twist the tip of the black wire from the cable to the tip of the black wire from the light fixture together with a pair of pliers. (Have an assistant hold the fixture while you do this.) Place a wire nut over the ends of the wires, and twist it several times. The wire nut acts as an insulator while keeping the wires joined together. Connect the white wire from the cable to the white wire from the fixture, and the bare wire from the cable to the green wire from the fixture.

Hanging the Fixture

Raise the fixture to the ceiling. If the fixture hangs from a chain, remove links from the chain until the fixture hangs from the desired height. Attach the fixture to the ceiling box with the mounting hardware provided by the manufacturer. Raise the canopy to the ceiling to cover the hole in the ceiling, and screw it to the ceiling. Hire an electrician to connect the light switch and wire the circuit to your home’s main electrical box. Most localities prevent anyone who’s not a licensed electrician from doing this, as it’s extremely dangerous.

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