installed exterior light fixture on porch

Angie's How To Install an Exterior Lighting Fixture

Date Published: Sept. 29, 2014

Time: 45 Minutes


Featured author: Kim Vargo is one half of the team behind the Chicago based blog Yellow Brick Home. On any given day, you’ll find her and her husband Scott renovating their 120-year-old house. They plan on turning that old house into their dream home. Alongside them are their furry companions, their four rescued pets.

This is the first full summer that Scott and I have lived in our house, and we’ve been hustling over the last three months to finally bring our home’s exterior up to snuff. Not only was it important to us, but we’ve been mindful of our curb appeal to keep our neighbors happy as well. We’ve painted our front porch, stained the deck floor, invested in subtle landscaping and grown grass from seed. One of our most recent game changers, however, has been a fresh coat of paint on our front door and two new light fixtures to flank either side.

The old fixtures we replaced were nothing to write home about, and as a result, this simple swap has made all the difference. With Scott as my hand model, we’ll show you how to install an exterior light in no time!

Tools & Materials Needed 
Screw Driver
Wire Strippers
Light Fixture
exterior light fixture source two wires neutral and hot
1Safety first.

First and foremost, you’ll want to cut the power to your exterior light source. Once you’ve done so, take down any existing light fixture. Your junction box should have two electrical cables to begin with, a white wire (neutral) and colored wire (hot).

securing exterior light mounting bracket with drill
2Secure the mounting bracket.

This won’t be terribly different for every fixture, but you’ll still want to follow the instructions that come with your new lighting fixture. Keeping the wires out of the way, we used the two supplied screws to attach our bracket within the existing mounting points.

connecting wires exterior light fixture install
3Make the connection.

The back of our new light also has a hot and neutral wire, as well as a ground wire. You can use a utility knife to cut a ½” off of each of the cables (on the junction box and your fixture) to expose the wire if it hasn’t been done so already. From here, connect the neutral white wires together, as well as the hot colored wires. You’ll also want to wrap your ground wire around the green screw that is a part of the mounting bracket. (Think: green = ground!)

secure exterior lighting fixture to wall
4Secure, tuck and assemble.

A new light will come with wire nuts, which we’ve used to secure our cables together. If you give a gentle tug on the wires and they stay put, then job well done! At this point, we carefully tucked the cables behind our sconce and finished the assembly with the screw provided.

keep light fixtures dry with caulk pro tip
5Keep it dry.

Our sconce lights are enclosed on our front porch, however, if your lights are exposed to the elements, make sure to apply a bead of clear caulk along the top half only. This will allow any moisture that does get in-between your house and light to escape out the bottom.

finished exterior light fixture installation
6Turn the power back on.

Congratulate yourself, because you’ve not only given your home’s exterior a mini facelift, but you’ve successfully tackled your own light installation! At this time, it’s safe to flip the power back on to the source, flip your switch on and enjoy your new mood lighting.

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