Hanging fluorescent light fixtures is not difficult if you have the proper tools and understand simple mechanics. It doesn’t hurt to have a friend to help with the tools and to make sure everything remains stable while the fixture and hardware are being attached. The quickest way to finish the job is to follow the directions closely and use the tools suggested by the manufacturer. A ladder that reaches to the ceiling is a must so that no one has to reach too far or overextend themselves.
When hanging fluorescent light fixtures, the first thing to determine is proper placement. This will depend on where the light is needed and where beams are located that will be able to support the weight of the fixture and bulbs. The purpose of the light will depend on where it is placed. If it is for general lighting, the most common place is in the center of the garage or work area. If it is to be used to illuminate a specific area, then it should be placed directly over where most of the work will be performed (workbench, drafting table, etc.) Before attaching the fixture, the area should be measured and rechecked for accuracy to ensure proper placement.
Type of Fixture and Hardware
Once the placement has been determined, a beam or beams must be located. If the light fixture is to be hung from chains or rope, screw hooks need to be attached to the beams in such a way as to fully support the weight of the fixture. Most new light fixtures have the hooks included in their packaging. If not a trip to the hardware store is in order. If you do not know what size hook to purchase, know the weight and overall size of the fixture and ask the sales person which one is appropriate.
The right length of screw will be needed to go through the dry wall or sheet rock and up into the supporting beam. In most cases, a two to three inch screw will work. Never have the fixture plugged in to an outlet or the electricity on while you are hanging fluorescent light fixtures. This prevents unnecessary accidents and keeps everyone in the area safe. Once the fixture is secure, install the fluorescent bulbs and turn the assembly on. The important thing to remember when attaching a light fixture directly to the ceiling is to ensure there are no gaps. A gap allows for space where a wire can be pinched. This can create a fire hazard and cause unnecessary damage to the home.
Whether you are hanging commercial light fixtures in the garage or a simple 36 inch fixture in the kitchen, safety must always come first. DIY projects can cause serious injuries if proper safety precautions aren’t taken. Once you know where the fixture will be placed, it is extremely important to turn off the electrical breaker to the area where you will be working.
Use a sturdy ladder that is tall enough to get you where you need to be without having to reach or stretch too far. A 4′ fluorescent fixture can be awkward and will easily throw a person off balance if they are on an unsteady ladder or platform. Before putting your full weight on the ladder, always make sure that it does not move or shift as you step up. This can also throw you off balance.
Wearing safety glasses is also a must. This prevents any dust and debris from falling into them while working with power tools or setting and inserting screws or nails. Always make sure there are no exposed wires where you will be working and that all tools are secure as you go up and down the ladder.
Hanging fluorescent light fixtures as a DIY project can help improve the value of your home and also help to build your confidence. If you have little experience working with electricity, it may be wise to hire an electrician to attach the wires, instead of attempting to do it yourself. If the light fixture has a plug in and no wiring requirements, the job should go smoothly and take very little time to accomplish.