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Friday, March 13, 2009

Installing a Simple Light Fixture

The other day I was installing some light fixtures for the studio I was working on in Brentwood. Installing a light fixture is not (usually) a difficult project, but can be one of the most rewarding and effective ways of updating a room's decor.

The first step is always to locate the correct circuit breaker and make sure the power is off to this circuit. I like to double check this with my tester as well as making sure the switch is off.

With the power off, I stripped the wires back (FIG. 1) and unpacked the light. They will usually come with all the hardware and screws that you will need for a typical installation, that is, except easy-to-understand instructions. :)

The next step was to install the mounting bar (FIG. 2) that screws into the electrical box. There is a threaded post in the center that will slide through the light's back plate and then get a nut to hold the light in place.

With the mounting bar ready, it's time to make the electrical connections (FIG. 3). For a basic installation, this is pretty simple. There are three wires in both the box and light fixture: black (or hot), white (or neutral), and the copper wire which is the ground.

I like to connect the ground wire first. On the mounting bar is a small green screw. This is where you attach both of the ground wires. I like to twist them together first and then tighten them around the screw.

Next, I connect the white wires together with a wire nut. (These are often provided, if not, they are available at any hardware store.) Then, I do the black wires. That's it for the connections. You want them to be good and tight so that they won't come loose.

At this point, I gently push the wire connections further into the box and slide the light fixtures base over the mounting post. This is threaded so that you can adjust it to make the fixture tight to the wall. Put the nut on to hold it there.

Next, all I needed was a light bulb and then I could finish the installation. This was a wall light so the shade just hung from the light's base. With ceiling fixtures there are often small screws to hold things together.

These particular fixtures were handmade out of cherry wood in Montana by a company called Cherry Tree Design. They look great!

Different installations may include variations on this basic process, but it's not usually much more difficult than that.


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