How to Ground a Ceiling Light

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A ceiling light, as with other electrical fixtures, is fed by a "hot" (black) wire and a neutral white wire. The electrical circuit won't work without both wires involved. You can make it work without a ground wire, but you shouldn't. A ground wire is simply an extra wire that's designed to route any stray electrical current (from, say, a power surge) back into the system, so it won't shock anyone standing near the fixture. A properly installed electrical circuit will have a bare copper ground wire that should always be included in the light installation process.

Things You'll Need

  • Stepladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Ceiling light
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Wire caps
  • Turn off the electricity to the ceiling electrical box. If there's currently a fixture attached to it, remove the fixture using your screwdriver. Disconnect the three wires from the fixture and leave them hanging from the box. You will see a black wire, a white wire and a bare copper ground wire.

  • Find the mounting bracket for your new light. It will be a flat metal piece with a green grounding screw on it, and open screw holes to attach it to the box. Attach it using the provided machine screws.

  • Take the end of the bare copper ground wire and bend it into a U-shape, using your needle-nose pliers. Hook it around the green screw. Tighten the screw.

  • Raise the new light to the electrical box. Hold the white wire from the light next to the white wire from the box and twist a wire cap over the two of them. Do the same for the black wires from the light and box.

  • Tuck the two wires up inside the box. Mount the light to the mounting plate, using the provided screws. The green grounding screw and copper wire should be completely hidden by the fixture. Turn the power back on.

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