Project Guide

How to Install a Hanging Light Fixture

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Assemble the Canopy and Hanging Hardware
Assembling canopy hanging hardware for a ceiling light fixture.
  • To start, you must turn off electrical power to the fixture at the electrical panel. Use the appropriate voltage tester to ensure no power is present at the fixture before you begin work. DO NOT RELY on a wall switch to protect you from electrical shock.
  • Next, set aside any components that can be installed after the fixture is hanging (globes, glass panels, light bulbs, etc.). Follow the specific instructions provided with the fixture. Remember to slide any necessary parts over the wiring and hanging chain.
  • Support the fixture close to the ceiling by screwing a platform to the top of a stepladder with a few drywall screws. This provides a good work surface and should put the chandelier close enough to the ceiling to allow you to do the wiring without having to hold the chandelier in midair.
  • Having a second person on a second ladder may also work, but coordinating your movements can be difficult with a heavy fixture. Fixtures usually come with a new mounting strap - a strip of metal that screws into the junction box in the ceiling. You can often use the existing strap, but if not, unscrew the old strap and screw the new strap in place.
Connect the Wiring
Connecting the wiring in a ceiling light fixture.
  • Check the supply wires for fraying or damage. If necessary, cut the wires and strip off about 3/4-inch of insulation. Newer fixtures have a black and a white wire. Twist the bare end of the black supply wire together with the bare end of the black fixture wire and then twist on a wire nut. Repeat with the white wires. Carefully tuck the wires into the junction box.
  • Put a bulb in the fixture and check that connections work before finishing. If you are re-installing an older fixture, you may find that the fixture wires aren't color coded. In this case, simply choose one fixture wire and connect it to the black supply wire. Connect the other fixture wire to the white supply wire, then complete the remaining steps.
Hang the Fixture
Attaching a light fixture cover to a hanging light fixture.

Thread the fixture's mounting stem into the mounting strap on the ceiling box. Although the fixture is now securely hanging from the ceiling, the box and mounting hardware are still visible. Slide the canopy up against the ceiling to cover the mounting hardware; tighten the locknut against the canopy.

How to Hang Outdoor Lights
An outdoor chandelier hanging over a patio set on a sun porch.

Outdoor hanging lights can add drama to a porch, covered deck or sunroom. The process is almost the same, but when dealing with outdoor lighting, there are a few additional precautions to take.

  • Make sure you purchase a light fixture that is UL-rated for outdoor use. 
  • The fixture should be made from weather-resistant material and the internal circuitry should be sealed to prevent moisture from condensing inside.
  • The power switch should have a rubber coating to protect against possible shock.
  • Take the measurements of the fixture at the space where it is to be installed: the bottom of the fixture needs to have a minimum clearance no lower than 7 feet from the floor. 

Once you have learned how to hang outdoor lights and can hang a light fixture indoors, you’re ready to see your all of your decor in a new light. Use this and other The Home Depot guides to upgrade your lighting and other types of home decor.