How To Install A Fluorescent Light Fixture

You may have a traditional overhead light socket in your kitchen, bathroom, or work area that just doesn't provide enough light. It is relatively simple to replace your old light fixture with a fluorescent light.

What kind of fluorescent light should you buy?

Although there are different styles of fluorescent lights, the standard model is forty-eight inches long and comes with either two or four standard size bulbs. While the two bulbs models are moderately bright, you may choose a four bulb design if you require a brighter room.

If your fluorescent light will be exposed, choose a light with a decorative cover. Although it causes some light to dissipate, it is much more aesthetically pleasing than a plain shop light, which exposes the bulbs. However, a shop light may be suitable for a work area, or inside a suspended ceiling with a clear light panel.

When you purchase bulbs, which are usually sold separately, be sure to pick the correct bulbs. Although they are sold in standard four-foot sizes, they may have either two or four prongs on the ends. Check your light to see which type of bulbs it requires.

Installing a fluorescent light fixture

What you will need:

  • Electrical tape
  • Wire nuts
  • Drill with philips head screw chuck

Flip the circuit breaker switch to cut the power to the existing light fixture. If you are unsure which breaker is the correct one, leave the light on and begin to turn off individual breakers. When the light goes off, you're found the correct breaker.

Unscrew the old light fixture from the ceiling. You will see two black wires and two white wires joined together, and a green- or copper-colored wire connected to the light fixture as a ground. Disconnect the wires by removing the electrical tape and wire nuts (plastic caps) that are twisted onto the ends. Unhook the ground wire and remove the old light.

The fluorescent light will have a black and white wire that you may need to pull through the opening in the top. You may need a helper to hold the light fixture while you attach the wires. Join the wires from the light to the wires in the ceiling (black to black and white to white) by twisting them together. Twist the wire nuts onto the ends to secure the connection, then wrap electrical tape around the wire nuts and joined wires. Attach the green or copper ground wire in the ceiling to the grounding screw on the light fixture.

If you are attaching the light to a drywall ceiling, use drywall anchors with the supplied mounting screws. Place the light against the ceiling, and carefully line up the opening for the wires to the hole in the ceiling.

When you are sure that the light is properly aligned, and all wires are inside the ceiling, use the supplied mounting screws to mount the light by drilling them into the ceiling through the mounting slots on the light fixture.

If you are uncomfortable installing the light fixture on your own, or if you have questions, contact a professional electric service, like Safe-Way Electric & Solar Co.

Installing fluorescent light bulbs

Turn on the power before installing the bulbs to be sure that they are installed correctly. Single-pronged bulbs are spring-loaded, which means that you push them into place one end at a time. Two pronged bulbs, which are not as popular but still available, need to be installed both ends at once, then twisted into place until the connection is made and the bulb is engaged. It may take a few attempts before you connect them properly.

When all bulbs are lit, snap on the cover and enjoy your newly brightened room.


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