Part three of a series on basic electrical wiring explores a typical home improvement project: installing a light fixture.
Installing a Light Fixture: The Basics
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Like installing a ceiling fan, if you’re going be putting in a new light fixture, you need to know some basic carpentry as well as having some skills as an electrician. A good thing to know about the light fixtures you’re looking at, make sure that they are compatible with your voltage.
We had a customer a few years ago buy a light fixture in a marketplace in France a few years ago, but when he tried to install it, it was wired to European standards. He ended up blowing his circuit breaker. So when you install a light fixture, make sure it is wired according to voltage in the US. Here are some basics from the expert himself, Bob Villa.
“Here are a couple of things you should know about electricity and residential wiring before you get started.
– All electric power is fed through the meter to your breaker panel. If you shut something off at the panel there is no power to the wires or boxes in the house.
– Shutting something off at the switch does not necessarily mean that there is no power to the wires in the electrical box.
– When looking at wires, black or red is the current, white is neutral, and green or copper is ground.” [READ MORE]
Installing a Light Fixture: the Procedure
First off, shut off the power at the breaker, not at the switch. Whenever you’re doing any sort of electrical work, this should always be step one. Next, check out the wires you’re going to be connected. If you have copper wires, only use copper wires. If you have aluminum wires, only use aluminum wires. Next, make sure the wires are in good condition, particularly if you have an older home. When you connect them, always connect like to like. So connect a white wire to a white wire, a black wire to a black wire, etc. Make sure the light switch is turned off. Put in a light bulb. Then you want to flip the power back on at the breaker level. Finally, you want to turn on the light at the switch. If it all works, your light should come on.
An important thing to note is that if you don’t feel comfortable, you may want to call in a home improvement pro. instead of risking injury or electrical fire. The best pro is obviously an electrician contractor.
This concludes part three of our series. For more information on electrical wiring, be sure to read part one and part two as well.