Outdoor lighting fixtures can be important for safety. Visitors to your home, as well as you and your family, need to see pathways and entries to move safely and comfortably in the dark. Outdoor lighting also can be a burglar deterrent, as it places potential burglars in full view of your neighbors. If you currently have outdoor lighting but would like to replace it with a more contemporary fixture, the process is simple. The wiring already is in place, so all you have to do is remove the old fixture and attach a new one.
Shut off the circuit breaker that powers your outdoor light fixture. It is not safe to work on electrical wiring with only the light turned off at the switch. Make sure everyone who has access to the circuit breaker panel knows you are working on the lighting. Place a piece of masking tape labeled "do not turn on"; or a similar warning written in permanent marker over the circuit if you don't know who will be around the panel.
Unscrew the screws or nuts that hold your fixture to the wall. These might be on the outside portion of the light fixture, or you might need to remove a globe or shade to access them. Some fixtures hide the screw heads with decorative pegs or use nuts with decorative coatings. If you see a small peg or knob that does not look functional, try gently pulling it out or twisting counter-clockwise to reveal the screw heads or remove the nuts from the bolts.
Pull the fixture away from the wall. If it has been painted around and sealed to the wall by the paint, you might need to pry it from the wall with a flathead screwdriver.
Unscrew the wire nuts that hold the fixture's wires to the house wires. The ground wire might be fastened by a screw rather than wire nuts; remove this wire as well. Set the old fixture aside.
Open your new lighting fixture and assemble it as the manufacturer instructs. Most fixtures have a metal mounting plate that attaches to the electrical box in your wall. Remove the old fixture's mounting plate if it is a different size or style than your new one, and install the new one with the screws provided with the light fixture. If your old fixture has a matching mounting plate, there is no need to swap, and the new plate can be discarded.
Loop the household ground wire (usually green insulation or bare copper) around the grounding screw (usually green or copper) on your new fixture. If your fixture has a ground wire instead of a grounding screw, twist this wire with the household ground wire and twist on a wire nut in a clockwise direction to fasten them together. The new fixture should come with the appropriate size wire nuts. If not, the blue or orange sizes generally are suited to this type of fixture.
Twist the new fixture's hot wire and the household hot wire together, then screw a wire nut onto them. Hot wires usually are black, or may have a plus (+) sign on the wire. Some fixtures are not polarized, so either wire may be used--check the manufacturer's instructions.
Twist the new fixture's neutral (white or minus sign) wire with the household neutral (white) wire and screw on a wire nut.
Gently pull on each wire to ensure it is firmly inside the wire nut. Tuck the wires back inside the electrical box.
Place the fixture's mounting bolts through the appropriate holes in the mounting bracket, if applicable to your fixture. Slide the fixture into place over the mounting plate, then tighten the nuts onto the bolts or screw the fixture into place, as directed by the fixture's manufacturer.
Insert a light bulb into your fixture and turn the circuit breaker back on.