How to wire a light

Wiring up and installing a new light in your home is not as difficult as you might first imagine: it does however involve electricity, and electricity can be dangerous if you don’t do things right, but take certain safety precautions, use the right tools: then it’s a job that most of us can do without too much difficulty.

When you don’t take the time to study what it is you need to do, and why you’re doing it, it’s easy to get in a bit of a muddle trying to wire a light. Many do-it-yourselfers have learnt how to wire a light in the home the hard way, by trial and error: e.g. you wire and install the fitting, switch the electricity back on, throw the light switch…and nothing happens, except the bathroom light suddenly goes on instead: you switch wire connections around, try again, this time the freezer turns off, the kitchen lights come on…get the idea…happened to you?

Take heart, here we’ll go over the steps to follow and the tools necessary to tackle this project with the minimum of fuss, and in a safe manner. But if you aren’t confident – leave it to the professionals. For those up for the challenge…read on.

Tools you’ll Need

You won’t need lots of tools to wire a new light – generally just an insulated electrical screw driver, a roll of electrician’s insulating tape, and a set of steps.

A Word on Safety

Always remember to think Safety when tackling do-it-yourself around the home- particularly jobs involving Electricity and Gas. Always make sure you switch off the mains electricity, or isolate the circuit you’re working on at the very least. Test by using a mains tester screwdriver or a digital multi-meter.

  • Locate electrical cables, gas or central heating pipes hidden in walls before drilling, screwing or nailing. An electrical cable detector will come in handy for this, and can help prevent electric shocks.
  • Switch off the power whilst you’re working with wiring and connecting cables. Make sure you’ve done this by plugging an appliance into a socket – try switching on the light.
  • Before using power tools, inspect the lead and plug are in good condition, with no damage to either. If there is damage – do not use – repair it, or change it

Wiring and installing a new ceiling light

Listed below are the steps to follow when wiring and installing a ceiling light fitting.

  • Screw fix the new light fitting by its mounting bracket securely to the ceiling (and into the joist) above. Where this is not possible, insert an additional wooden batten or noggin to provide a secure fixing point for the light.
  • Gently pull the cable down and through to the new light fitting for wiring. Strip back and prepare the wires of this cable, but not the green and yellow sleeving attached to the earth wire.
  • Then, using an insulated electrical screwdriver, connect the brown (or red old cable) to the live terminal connection on the light fitting.
  • Then, connect the blue (or black on old cable) to the neutral terminal.
  • And finally, connect the green and yellow sleeved earth conductor to the earth terminal on the light fitting.

When the wiring is connected, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for attaching the fitting to its ceiling mounting bracket.



Wiring and installing a fluorescent tube fitting 

It may be you want to replace a standard pendant light fitting with a fluorescent tube fitting, in that case, follow the steps detailed below;


  • First, remove the cover of the new fluorescent tube light fitting; hold it up to the ceiling and feed the electrical cable down and into the fitting.


  • Next, choose suitable fixing points to attach the fitting. Fix the fitting with at least two screws – one at either end, but one or two would be better. Attach the fitting to the ceiling by screw fixings – securely into the joists above where possible. If you can’t – they don’t line up – then fit timber battens between the joists to provide screw fixing points.


  • Next, strip and prepare the ends of the coloured electrical wires for connection, but not the bare earth wire, leave this one sleeved green and yellow.


  • Then, connect the brown (old cable red) to the live terminal connection of the light fitting.


  • Next, connect the blue (old cable black) to the neutral terminal connection.


  • Finally, connect the green and yellow sleeved earth conductor securely to the earth terminal.


Finally, check all connections are correct and secure, fit the tube carefully into the fitting, remembering to align the pins at each end of the tube with the sockets on the fitting ends. Then replace the light fitting cover – and that should be it!


Electrical DIY around the home

Carrying out your own electrical work can be tempting, especially to those who are dab hands at do-it-yourself, a jack of all trades; but do beware, and seek advice about what electrical jobs we are allowed to do ourselves and those that must be left to a professional. Take note also, most qualified electricians will not certificate work carried out by a non professional, which could affect insurance protection.

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