How to Replace Fluorescent Lighting in a Kitchen

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Replacing a fluorescent light in the kitchen is easy.
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Fluorescent light bulbs can lack the warmth and coziness that you want in your home, and the light fixtures can look big and bulky. If you want a simple way to give a room a makeover, try replacing the fluorescent light fixture in your kitchen with recessed lights or pendant lights. If you're still looking for inspiration, try searching interior design magazines and websites for other ideas for replacing fluorescent lighting boxes. Giving your kitchen light box an upgrade is easy to do, but if you have to patch any holes in your ceiling, it might take several days to complete this project.

Disconnect Power at Circuit Breaker

Because you'll be disconnecting some electrical wires while replacing the fluorescent light fixture in your kitchen, it's imperative that you switch off the circuit breaker connected to the kitchen, as advised by eHow. Try to turn on the light after flipping the circuit breaker to confirm that the power has been disconnected.

Remove Lens, Bulbs and Exterior

To disassemble the fluorescent light fixture, start by removing the lens or diffuser that covers the bulbs. Look for any levers on one side that indicate the box opens and swings down. Or, try pushing up on the lens cover to see if it simply dislodges from a shelf or lip. Single bulb fixtures may have a nut on the side that must be removed before the lens cover slides off.

Next, remove the actual light bulbs. Holding one bulb with both hands, rotate it 90 degrees in the socket and then pull down on one end to free the bulb. If your light fixture has any other decorative exterior elements, like a frame, look for screws or clips that connect it to the main light ballast. Carefully unscrew or unclip the frame while always supporting it with one hand so that it does not fall on you.

Disconnect Electrical Wires

Unscrew the wire nuts and untwist the wires until the ceiling wires are completely separated from the light fixture wires. Now the only thing left to do is unscrew the light fixture from the ceiling. Look for screws or plates that are holding the ballast in place. Be sure to always support the ballast as you unscrew it so you can carefully lower it once it's free.

Repair the Ceiling If Necessary

Depending on how the ballast was mounted to the ceiling, you may have holes in the drywall that won't be covered by your new light fixture. Use drywall putty to patch these holes, and then sand and paint over the patches to make it look good-as-new. If your new light fixture won't interfere with the putty, you can go ahead and install it.

Replacing Fluorescent Light Fixture in Kitchen

Your new light fixture should come with mounting equipment and instructions so that you can accurately fasten the hardware for the ballast to the electrical box or ceiling with the provided screws. The next step is to connect the new light fixture's electrical wires to the wires coming out of your ceiling.

Match up the wires according to their colors and use a wire nut to thread the wires together in a secure connection. If you're not feeling confident about this step, you can call an electrician for assistance.

Next, screw in the light bulbs. Be sure to use the appropriate wattage and type for the fixture you've purchased. The final step in giving your kitchen light box an upgrade is to attach the outer decorative cover on the new fixture. This typically attaches with springs, clips or a screw. The instruction manual that comes with that specific light fixture should provide the information you need.


Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.

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