Installing Ceiling Fixtures

Installing LED Overhead Lights

All the light fixtures at Sunnybrook are being replaced by modern, efficient LEDs. For the bedrooms, we chose very economical ceiling fixtures with integrated LED bulbs, as we mostly use table lamps for our everyday lighting, only really using overhead lights when we are doing tasks such as cleaning or packing our suitcases for vacations.

We found very serviceable and nice-enough looking ceiling fixtures at Costco for the modest price of about $26 a piece. Though they are fitted with plastic rather than glass, the brushed nickel look fits our other fixtures, and we aren’t too worried about them breaking or yellowing, as they are mounted high and the LED bulbs produce very little heat. They are dimmable, which makes them more practical beyond bright task lighting. Perhaps someday we’ll upgrade, but for our current needs and budget goals, these economical fixtures will suffice.

The most vital step in any electrical project is first turning off the power at the main circuit breaker. It doesn’t hurt to flip the light’s wall switch off as well…one can not be too careful when it comes to working with electricity. Sooo, we went to the breaker box box and cut the juice to the bedrooms before we even unboxed the new fixtures. If you have any doubts, or just don’t feel comfortable doing electrical work, call an electrician.

A bit of research and careful work can save you a bundle if you feel handy in this department. If nothing else, get things prepped and ready for the pros, limiting the cost-per-hour you’ll pay if you need an electrician. You should also check local codes and limitations on what can be done by non-pros in your area. If you have a construction permit, an electrician may need to sign off on it, so it’s worth checking with your electrician before diving in, if that’s the case. Since Jeff is quite familiar with electrical work and our permit allows us to do quite a lot, we felt comfortable installing new fixtures and switches.

Once the old fixture was removed, three wires were exposed: a ground wire, a hot wire, and what is called a common wire. The ground is usually green, the hot wire black, and the common is white. (After double-checking the breaker was switched OFF,) Jeff detached these three wires from the icky old fixture, and then hooked up the shiny new fixture’s wires: white wire to white, black to black, and green to green. Each connection is covered with a little plastic protector cap that screws on to keep ’em separate and safe.

I held the fixture up so Jeff could focus on the wires. I held screws and handed off the power drill. I climbed up and down to get pieces and parts, was basically just the go-fer on this project. It may seem like a lame-o job to be the mere holder-upper, the go-getter and climber-up-and-downer…but something like putting a fixture on a ceiling is actually way easier with a second set of hands, so one person doesn’t have to perform a balancing act of wires and tools and parts while perched atop a ladder. Go team, go!

Color-coded wires on back of the new fixture

As we prefer the cozy ambiance of lamps to overhead lighting in the bedrooms, we invested in pretty bedside lights, and equipped them with Phillips Hue “smart” LED color bulbs for lots of ambiance options. We’ll cover our “smart house” features in another post, but if you want to smarten up your own home, think it through before installing new fixtures, as many of them may not fit your “smart” system. We’re going for a balance; smart bulbs, appliances, and fixtures are expensive, so we’re using them strategically where they make the most sense for our lifestyle and uses. For the bedrooms, economical, modern LED fixtures filled the bill.

Updated lighting overhead, in all three bedrooms, in a single easy morning!

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