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How to Wire for a New Ceiling Light

Ask This Old House electrician Scott Caron installs a new switch and ceiling fixture for a homeowner


  1. Before doing any electrical work, always shut off power to the house at the main breaker.
  2. Trace the mounting box on the ceiling where the light fixture will be mounted.
  3. Cut out the traced hole with an oscillating saw.
  4. Determine a location for the light switch. It should be 48” from the floor.
  5. Trace the electrical box for the switch and cut it out the same way as the mounting box.
  6. Locate a source of power for the switch, either at a junction box or at the main electrical panel.
  7. Connect the electrical wire to your source of power using the pliers and wire nuts and fish it through the joists until it reaches the light switch. Secure the wire to the joists with electric staples.
  8. Drill through the floor in the correct stud bay and send the wires for the switch and the light up to the switch using the fish tape.
  9. Mount the electrical box with Madison bars in the wall and wire the switch.
  10. Screw the switch into the box and then cover it with the cover plate.
  11. Cut a temporary access hole in the wall and fish wires from the fixture mount in the ceiling to the temporary hole, and then from the temporary hole through the joist back down to the basement where the switch was wired.
  12. Mount the electrical box in the ceiling with more Madison bars and screws.
  13. Wire the new fixture in the box and mount it to the ceiling.
  14. Patch the wall where the temporary hole was cut.
  15. Turn the power back on.

Scott installed the "Boxie" ceiling-mounted LED fixture, manufactured by Tech Lighting.

Basic electrical items like switch boxes, ceiling boxes, 14 gauge Romex wire, and switches can be found at a home center or electrical supply house.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Caron Electric and Wolfers Lighting.