Author Options:

how do i change an outdoor light fixture ? Answered

I need to change my porch light fixtures. I just don't know how. Any suggestions?


The same way you replace an indoor fixture.

1) disconnect the power at the switch AND the breaker/fuse
2) physically remove the fixture. They are generally held in with 2 screws to an 'octagon' electrical box. Each model is different. Just remove screws until you expose the wiring and the physical connection to the wall is gone
3) undo the wiring. It should be black to black, white to white, and a green or copper ground wire to the metal box.

Reverse the process
b) hook up the wire that holds the weight of the light to the ground screw (long steel/copper braided wire)
c) attach the electical connections, ground, neutral (white), and hot (black) respectively, preferably in that order for safety
d) mount the light fixture to the box similar to how the old one was connected. Watch out for needing weather gaskets etc. (rtfm)
e) install light bulb
f) turn on breaker
g) turn on switch, staying clear in case of asplosion.
No asplosion = win.

.  +1 (with a few clarifications)
.  Step 1: Kill the power at the breaker/fuse panel first (and restore last). Beg, borrow, or steal a multimeter/VOM/voltmeter and verify that the power from the panel is dead AND that the wires you are working on are not hot - check every wire before you touch it the first time (and any time you have any doubt; you can't check too often).
.  Step 3: Sometimes you end up with two whites (mains to fixture, black to switch, white from switch). Installer should have marked one of the whites as "hot" but they don't always do it. You want to match wire colors when possible, but don't freak out if they don't.
.  Also, spend some time reading up on electrical safety before starting the job.

I only break the breaker first if I don't know which breaker it is. the following flipping of the light switch can confirm if its still off.

My fear is always the terrible installation where hot runs to the light with a switch loop to the switch, so regardless of the switch position, you have a live wire in the ceiling box. It's pretty common, sadly.

+1 regarding reading up on electrical safety. This is not a difficult job, but it's also really not something you want to get wrong.

Thank you so much. I think I can manage that! I hate to call an electrician out to do things that I know I knw are routinely done by homeowners themselves. To be on the really safe side-I think I will turn all power to the house off.
This is the same process for indoors too?
Thanks again,
You have made an old lady's day!

It's really not *difficult* per se, but there may be a few nuances to your particular light. As nacho says, check, check again, then check again. power is not something to be unsure about. As for turning off the whole house, leaving the light bulb on, then flipping the correct breaker and seeing the light off is enough for me.

Tape the light switch in the off position if anyone else might be in the house and could accidentally toggle it.

We believe in you!

+1 And I might add,  it helps a lot if the fixture wants to change.

Ahh..Thanks for the warning....it could take awhile to pry it off the porch!
I get my coffee and hammer out! :-)