My house was built in 1965 and the light fixtures in the garage really show their age. I could just screw in LED bulbs and be done with it but I would still have to look at the 50 year old light fixtures every day!
If you have read any of my other instructables you'd see that I'm a huge fan of the LED strip lights. I've already installed a set under my kitchen counter and I installed a set in my outside storage building. I intended to do something similar in my garage then I stumbled on a complete 22 watt 1400 lumens LED fixture at LOWES for less that $40! This changed my mind right away and I bought & installed one of their fixtures that day!
Step 1: Inspect Your New Fixture
Before you start any light fixture project you should unpack and inspect your fixture or fixtures. I did and everything was there. I also took the opportunity to check everything out.
I was impressed - the back plate was made of metal, probably steel and the shade / cover was some sort of lightweight translucent plastic. The entire fixture weighed less than just the cover off the old fixture. Two plastic swing out latches hold the shade in place - this will make cleaning much easier than the fixture I'm replacing because with the old fixture I had to take out two Phillips screws while supporting the lamp shade. I'm surprised that at least one of the shades wasn't broken in the last 50 years!
Step 2: Before You Start Any Project - Turn Off the Power
Before you start any project you should turn off power to the branch circuit you are working on. The easiest way to figure out which breaker needs turned off is to turn on the light and switch each breaker off & on until one turns off the light. Once power is safely off you can continue.
Step 3: Remove Your Old Fixture
To remove your fixture first remove the shade just like you are going to change a bulb, then unscrew the bulb.
Then inspect the fixture base - you will see 2 screws or a center nut.
Loosen then remove these parts, then slowly pull the fixture base down from the ceiling until you can see the wires.
You should see 2 or 3 wires running down into the fixture base. One will be black and one will be white. You might also have a bare or green wire. These two wires will be connected to two wires running into the electrical box with wire nuts. Pay close attention to these wires and what connects to what because you will be connecting the new fixture to the same wires in the same way. The connections will be:
White X White & Black X Black
White X White & Black X Red
White X White & Black X White
You'll notice that my fixture the wires are connected White X White & Black X Red and white is a bundle of wires.
Remove the wire nuts by twisting them counter clockwise to unscrew them from the wires. It's very important that any wires bundled together, like the white wires in my fixture, stay bundled together.
Step 4: Remove Old Mounting Hardware and Add New Mounting Ring
If your fixture has a cross brace like mine in picture 1 - remove it.
Then go through the fixture parts and locate the mounting ring and 4 screws that go with it.The 2 longer screws need to be just threaded into opposing holes in the mounting ring.
Then the mounting ring gets attached to your electrical box with the 2 shorter screws.
The two wires thread through the center of the mounting ring.
Step 5: Wire the Fixture
Straighten out the fixture wire strands then twist them together to keep them neat.
Then attach the stranded fixture wires to the house wires with the wire nuts provided. In my case the wire nuts were not large enough to attach the white wire to the wire bundle in the fixture and I had to re-use the one wire nut I removed.
There are some tricks you need to know about when using wire nuts.
- Put the stranded fixture wire in the wire nut first then insert the solid wire then twist the wire nut onto the wires.
- When the wire nut is tight enough you will not be able to pull it off the wires. If you can then start over and twist the wire nut on a little harder until you can't pull it off the wires.
Once the wiring is done, tuck the solid wires into the electrical box so they will not be in the way of the fixture.
Very Important: You see that I only have two wires coming out of my electrical box. My house is wired with metal boxes. The safety ground wire is attached to the electrical box and safety ground for my fixture will be through the mounting screws. If your house is new enough to have plastic electrical boxes, the fixture you remove will have a third ground wire attached to a wire coming from your box or the safety ground will be attached to your old fixture mounting cross bar. It's important to connect the third ground wire to the third fixture ground wire or to your new mounting ring for safety!
Step 6: Mount Your New Fixture
The last steps are to hang the fixture from the long mounting screws, tighten the screws, mount the light cover, turn on power and enjoy!
And I only have three fixtures to go......