How to Install Fluorescent Lights

Cost-effective and powerful, fluorescent lights are a smart choice for many rooms in your home. Here's how to install them.

Fluorescent lighting is inexpensive to run, but the light from standard tubes can look cold and industrial. There are, however, ways to warm up fluorescents to make them more suitable for home use. Tubes labeled "warm" or "full spectrum" produce a warmer light, while a translucent cover helps diffuse the light and reduce glare.

Replacing an incandescent fixture with a fluorescent one is relatively easy. If your goal is simply to save energy costs, simply install a fluorescent bulb in an incandescent fixture. Otherwise, an existing fluorescent light might have cable running directly into it with no electrical junction box. That's OK—usually the fixture's housing is considered adequate for protecting spliced wires. Because some fluorescent fixtures are heavy and bulky, enlist a helper when removing or installing one.

  • Working Time 4 Hours
  • Start to Finish 4 Hours
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Hard

What you need

Tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Wire Strippers
  • Side cutters
  • Voltage tester
  • Lineman's pliers
  • Nonconductive ladder

Materials

  • New fluorescent fixture
  • Wire nuts
  • Screws
  • Electrician's tape

How to do it

Step 1 Loosen Fixture

Shut off power to the circuit. Remove the wire nuts and disconnect the house wires from the fixture wires. Or snip and restrip them. Loosen and remove the locknut that holds the cable clamp to the fixture.

Step 2 Remove Screws

Remove the screws holding the fixture in place—usually there are several driven into ceiling joists. Support the fixture as it comes loose and guide the wires out through the hole. Note the locations of the ceiling joists. Mark the new fixture to line up screws with joists.

Step 3 Open Knockout Hole

With a hammer and screwdriver, open a precut knockout hole in the top of the fixture, then twist off the piece with pliers. Thread the wires through the hole and attach the cable clamp to the fixture with a locknut.

Step 4 Mount Fixture

Have a helper hold the fixture against the ceiling. Drive the mounting screws into joists.

Step 5 Wire Fixture

Wire the fixture. Connect the ground wires together and to a grounding screw on the fixture. Splice white fixture wire to white house wire and black to black. Install the fixture tubes and cover.

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