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Is it Hard to Change a Light Fixture?

is-it-hard-to-change-a-light-fixtureNothing can update and brighten a space like a new light fixture. If you’re like most people, though, the thought of doing electrical work can be intimidating. Is it hard to change a light fixture? Surprisingly, the answer is usually a resounding “no.” That’s not to say there aren’t things to be aware of, or that you can’t run into issues. Moreover, safety should always be of the utmost importance, especially when dealing with electricity. Knowing what to look for, however, can make changing a light fixture easy and safe.

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Changing a Light Fixture: Before You Start

is-changing-a-light-fixture-hard-breaker-promaster-cincinnatiWe’ll identify some things to consider about changing a light fixture in a moment. First, though, there are some things to consider before you begin. First, you want to make sure that your breaker panel is well labeled, so you can know for sure which lights and outlets will have their power cut when the breaker is switched off. If your panel is not labeled, it might take a bit of trial and error to find out which breaker runs to the light fixture you want to change.

Secondly, it is important to note whether there is an existing fixture where you’re interested in installing a new light fixture. Running electric to a spot where there currently is none, cutting a hole in your drywall ceiling, and installing the appropriate boxes can make installing a light fixture a pain for the average homeowner. If that sounds like something you’re not interested in, feel free to call the experts at ProMaster. In this article, though, we’ll concentrate on things to think about when changing a light fixture that already exists.

Is the Breaker Shut Off?

One thing about electricity that everyone knows; it can be very dangerous to work with. Dealing with live electricity is something no one should do, even a professional. It’s important to make sure that the electricity to your light fixture has been turned off at the breaker box.

A lot of people think that simply flipping the wall switch to the off position will allow them to safely change a light fixture in their home. This isn’t the case. There are different ways to correctly wire a light to a switch, and some of them mean that power may not be entirely cut off by flipping the switch. What’s more, you don’t want to risk a family member turning the switch on while you’re working. It’s always safest to turn off power at the electrical panel/breaker box.

How is the Current Fixture Wired?

is-it-hard-to-change-a-light-fixture-wiring-promaster-cincinnati.jpgIf you’ve never dealt with electrical wiring before, you may be surprised when you remove the old light fixture. There isn’t always one white wire and one black wire, each connected to one wire of the same color.

While most light fixtures will be pretty straight forward, some fixtures may have a separate wire for each bulb. Others may be connected to two different switches in the room. Fans will have separate wires for the fan motor and the light. This is one reason it’s always smart to take a photo of the wiring before disconnecting the old fixture.

Typically, though, you’ll see a black wire, a white wire, and a copper or green wire. The black wire is known as the “hot” wire, and carries the electricity from the breaker box to the fixture. The white wire is “neutral,” and sends unused electricity back to the electrical panel. A copper or green wire is the “ground” wire.

Can the Box Hold the Weight?

Some light fixtures are heavier than others. It’s important to make sure that the electrical box in your wall or ceiling can hold the weight when you change your light fixture. Most boxes support a limit of 50 pounds, while boxes rated for ceiling fan installation can carry about 75 pounds.

Be sure to check for the rating of the electrical box you’re mounting your new light fixture to. If your fixture is extra heavy (for whatever reason), you may need to upgrade the box.

Is the Escutcheon Too Small?

Is-it-hard-changing-light-fixture-escutcheon-promaster-cincinnatiMany people change a light fixture without considering what their ceiling will look like after they do. Most light fixtures have some sort of “escutcheon,” or cover, to hide both the wiring and the electrical box. There are times when the escutcheon from the new fixture is smaller than the one from the old fixture. This can mean having to touch up or, even worse, repaint your ceiling. Before replacing your light fixture, check to be sure that the new escutcheon will cover unpainted or poorly painted sections of your ceiling.

Need a Hand? Call ProMaster!

If you are looking to change a light fixture in your home and aren’t sure that it’s the right DIY project for you, no problem. Just contact ProMaster! Our team of craftsmen would love to help you with any of your home repair needs. Simply call 513-322-2914, schedule online, or use the “Reach Out” form at the bottom of this page.


  1. In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. Lighting is like jewelry for a house; it can make a room formal or casual, it can stand out or be subtle, it can vary room to room, be the main focus, or accent a favorite feature. But how do you begin, when every room could need a different fixture and the options seem endless? Be inspired by some of our current homeowners, and keep in mind these tips for making a selection that is right for you.

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