How To Change An Outdoor Light Fixture: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide

So, you’re thinking about changing your outdoor light fixture!

There can be multiple reasons why someone would want to do this; after all, it is a quick and easy way to give a house’s exterior a little spruce up. 

If they’re old, light fixtures may also be unsafe – it’s a good idea to change them every once in a while, in that case!

In this article, we’ll detail:

  • Exactly how to replace an outdoor fixture
  • Important things to consider while doing so. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Safety Considerations for Changing an Outdoor Light Fixture

Before You Begin 

Before you get started, you’re going to need the right tools for the job!

This most likely means a screwdriver, pair of pliers, voltage tester, electrical tape, safety glasses, and potentially a step ladder (depending on where your light fixture is going).

Additionally, it’s equally as important to choose the right light fixture! 

It’s vital to keep in mind the size of the wall space you have to work with and the environment it’s going to be lighting up; these considerations may affect the style and size of the light fixture you buy.

When to Change an Outdoor Light Fixture 

You may be changing your outdoor light purely for aesthetic reasons, or because your old one is about to fall off the wall. 

In the case of scenario number one, get started whenever you’re readyt! Give the exterior of your house the makeover you’ve always dreamt about. 

However, in the case of option number two, it’s best not to leave it for too long. For safety and security, it’s a good idea to replace your outdoor lights as soon as they start to perform less than perfectly. 

Safety Precautions 

Safety is of utmost importance whenever you’re working with electricity and/or tools of any description. The appropriate safety gear should always be used! In this case, safety glasses should definitely be worn.

Steps to Change an Outdoor Light Fixture

Now, we’ll go through step-by-step how to change your outdoor light fixture!

Make sure the light is turned off at the fuse panel and the wall

When working with electricity, it is essential to ensure that the appliance you are replacing is turned off at the source.

This means taking the time to work out which fuse breaker supplies power to the light you are replacing and turning it off! Ensure the light you’re working on is also switched off at the wall.

It is recommended that you use a voltage tester to double-check that the power is fully off after you move on to the next step.

Remove the existing fixture

This may just mean unscrewing the fixture, or there may be caulk connecting the fixture to the wall that needs removing. If the latter is the case, a craft knife can be used to cut through this.

Disconnect the wires

It’s a good idea to take a picture of the existing wire configuration before you disconnect any wires!

Once you have done this, unscrew the wire connectors counterclockwise until they are completely off the wires. 

To avoid losing any of the wires in the wall once you have done so, it’s good practice to tape them to the exterior of the house.

Remove the old bracket 

If the existing bracket didn’t already come off with the old fixture, take this off now!

While you can technically use this existing bracket for your new fixture, it is generally a better idea to use a new bracket unless it is in perfect condition.

Attach the new bracket

This can easily be achieved with a screwdriver. However, you may also opt to use an electric drill instead – both options are fine.

Connect the wires to the new light fixture 

Ensure you are connecting the correct wires! They should be clearly color-coded in order to make this as straightforward as possible. 

Connect the black power wire from the fixture to the black wire in the box, the white neutral wire from the fixture to the white wire in the box, and the grounding wire from the fixture to the grounding wire in the box. 

Make sure to twist together any frayed wires so they are tight before connecting. 

It’s also recommended that you replace the existing wire connectors back onto the exposed connection points by rotating them clockwise.

Install the new light fixture

You can now attach the new light fixture to the bracket. The screws required to do this will be provided in the set you purchased the fixture in.

Insert new bulb in the new light fixture

It is important to ensure that your new bulb is compatible with your new fixture. If possible, ask for help at your local hardware store when buying both items to make sure they work together.

Test the new light by switching it on

The final step: Test your handiwork by turning the power back on at the fuse panel and then turning the switch on at the wall! 

Tips and Tricks for Changing an Outdoor Light Fixture 

Dealing with Difficult Siding 

In some cases, a back plate may be required to attach the new bracket if you’re working with a harder material such as stone. This will cut down on the amount of drilling that may be required.

Choosing the Right Replacement Fixture 

This is as much an aesthetic choice as it is a practical one. It pays to consider the environment you will be illuminating and any size restrictions such as other wall mountings.

Ensure Proper Wiring and Connections 

Ensuring that individual wire bundles are sufficiently wound is important; any wires that may have frayed during the replacement process should be rewound. 

It is also recommended that wire connectors be used in this process. If there are pre-existing wire connectors, then these should suffice; however, if they are visibly worn or not supplied it is a good idea to get some new ones.

Properly Secure and Dispose of Old Light Fixture 

Your local council should be consulted when looking to dispose of your old light fixture.

Different places will have different regulations regarding the disposal of things such as electrical components.


So, there you have it! A simple guide on how to change an outdoor light fixture. 

Changing an outdoor light fixture is a relatively easy and achievable job, even for those with no prior knowledge. 

However, just because it is simple doesn’t mean you should be careless; make sure you use the correct safety equipment (safety glasses) – and if something doesn’t work the way it should at any stage of the process, be sure to consult a registered electrician!

I hope this guide has offered value to those looking to improve their outdoor spaces, and that your projects are extremely successful! 

John Bayly

John Bayly

John has dedicated his career to the lighting industry. Starting out as an interior designer with a specialism in lighting, he went on to found his own commercial lighting business. He now shares his expertise and passion for all things lighting with readers of