When Is It Time to Change a Light Fixture?

nice light fixture

Although light fixtures can last decades, newer LED designs don’t always reach maximum lifetime ratings.

If you have an LED fixture that doesn’t allow you to change bulbs, it helps to recognize when the unit is about to fail so that it can be replaced.

The primary issue you’ll see with LED fixtures involves dimming. Although some units are built to be dimmable, the diodes eventually lose brightness as time passes. 

The lifetime rating of a modern LED is 50,000 hours, with some residential units reaching 100,000 hours. However, heat, moisture stress, and poor-quality construction techniques can considerably reduce the product’s performance.

When the LEDs are about 50% of the brightness levels offered when new, it is time to change the light fixture.

If you have a traditional fixture that works with CFLs, incandescent bulbs, or tube fluorescents, you can change things whenever you’re ready to update the look of your property.

How to Change Your Light Fixture at Home

If you want to do the work yourself when it’s time to update a light fixture, you’ll need a few tools to complete it successfully. 

Most jobs require a flat and Philips screwdriver, wire strippers, and connectors. In addition, a voltage tester is helpful to stay safe, while some installations might require needle nose pliers.

Once you have the item and tools ready, here are the steps to change the fixture to receive the update you want.

1. Turn Off the Power

It helps to flip the breaker at the central electrical panel for the home. More significant properties might have two, so choose the one that sends energy to the changed fixture. They should be labeled, but if they are not, you’ll want to experiment with each one until the lights go out.

2. Unscrew the Fixture

Remove any detachable parts from the fixture. There’s typically a decorative canopy or plate hiding the hardware. This part must be unscrewed. If you’re working with a heavy item, it helps to have some help during this step.

3. Remove the Wiring

At this point, you should have a view of the capped wiring. Carefully unscrew the caps, then use the voltage tester to ensure no power is coming to that location. It helps to take a picture of the attachment setup to duplicate it when installing the new fixture. 

Once all the wires are disconnected, you can remove the old fixture from the wall or ceiling. First, unscrew the mounting bracket, then take measurements to place the new one at a similar length or location.

You might need to trim wires to length if you have a hanging pendant or chandelier during this step.

4. Install the New Plate

Now is the time to replace the existing plate with the one that came with the new fixture. Please attach it to the mounting bracket in the wall or ceiling box.

It helps to take a few minutes to weave the wires through the new plate before tightening everything. If you can’t reach one of them, having needle nose pliers around will help.

5. Connect and Assemble

After the plate is installed and firm, you can connect the wires of the new fixture to the ones in the wall or ceiling. Most installs require you to match color to color, so the white wire goes to white, the dark goes to dark, and the green ground goes to the same. 

Older homes might have different wire colors. That’s why taking a picture of the previous setup is helpful.

If you’re unsure how to proceed, do not guess! Hire an experienced and licensed contractor or electrician to finish the setup from here.

It helps to have the capped wires stay accessible before completing the installation to check if the Power is working correctly. 

When something is wrong, and you’ve finished the installation, it’s a lot of extra work to take it apart a second time.

6. Turn on the Power

After you’ve completed the test, flip the breaker off to complete the installation work for the new fixture. Once everything is secure, your new light will look stunning and bright!

It usually takes less than an hour to complete a fixture replacement. However, working with a large or heavy item, such as a chandelier, may take between 90 minutes to 2.5 hours. Please remember to take zero risks during this work. Electricity is unforgiving, and this content is for informational purposes only. 


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