Anything that emits light is going to attract attention. This is particularly true of a porch light – drivers and passengers in passing cars will notice it, guests and visitors will notice it, your own family members will notice it, and basically anyone who sees and/or approaches your house is likely to notice the porch light. Swapping out a lighting fixture on an exterior surface, whether it be stucco, brick, rock, siding, or any number of other mediums, might feel a little intimidating. But I have a secret for you: it’s no harder than swapping out a light fixture anywhere else. Follow this step-by-step tutorial for a safe, simple modern porch light installation.
- New, modern porch light of your dreams
- Wire nuts (if they didn’t come with the porch light) and electrical tape
- Needlenose pliers (optional)
Let’s begin by recognizing the need for this upgrade. Not only are the many angles and edges and parts of this outdated porch lamp a major attraction for cobwebs, but also the light itself is dark, pointy…
…and woefully small. It is for these and many more reasons that it becomes both necessary and desirable to replace the old porch light with something modern, fresh, proportionate, and simple.
Before you touch anything else, flip the breaker to turn off any electricity to your porch light. You don’t want any hot wires when you’re swapping out a light fixture. Once you’ve confirmed that the power to your porch light is turned off, unscrew the old light fixture.
While holding the old fixture so it doesn’t fall to the ground, unscrew the wire nuts to completely detach the old fixture. Recycle, donate, or trash it, depending on its state.
Porch lights tend to accumulate leaves and spiderwebs and other outdoor-centered debris within the outlet box. Go ahead and clean this out.
Remove the old mounting plate, unless you want to reuse it, if it fits with your new light fixture.
For many porch lights, the mounting plate will be a square with a perpendicular lip on one end and an angled lip on the opposite end. You will always want to position the angled lip downward in these instances. Also, thread the house wires through the center of the mounting plate at this point.
Install the mounting plate over your newly cleaned-out outlet box, but don’t tighten it quite all the way yet.
Check for level; adjust the plate as needed, then tighten the mounting plate while holding the level up to ensure a level mount.
Attach like wires from the house to the light fixture. In other words, unite the white house wire with the white fixture wire. Do the same for the black (or darker) house and fixture wires. Note that the wires themselves aren’t generally different colors; rather, the “white” and “black” refers to the insulating wire coating. Attach the house ground wire with the fixture ground wire. Screw wire nuts onto the wire pairs.
Bend part of the house ground wire (which is now attached to the fixture ground wire) so that it fits under the mounting plate’s green ground screw. Tighten down the green screw to hold it in place.
Wrap electrical tape around the ends of the wire nuts and the wires to secure, insulate, and protect them.
Now is an excellent time to screw in your lightbulb(s), because you’re just about ready to actually mount the porch light to the wall.
Mount the wall plate by angling the bottom edge of the wall plate (which should have a loosened, but still attached, long screw on it) under the angled lip of the mounting plate. The tip of the long screw should catch under the angled lip of the mounting plate, but it shouldn’t be tight yet.
Keeping the long screw securely underneath the angled lip, push the top edge of the wall plate over the top (flat) lip of the mounting plate. The short screw on the top edge of the wall plate should be loose (unscrewed most of the way) but still attached.
Tighten the short screw (top) about 80% of the way, then tighten the long screw (bottom) about 50%. Go back up and tighten the short screw 100%. Do the same for the long screw, recognizing it won’t go in all the way because of the angled lip on the mounting plate.
Go flip the breaker back, and turn your new porch light on. Ta da! It’s fantastic!
The simple, modern aesthetic of this cylindrical LED wall sconce makes it possible to go a bit larger in the scale without looking disproportionately large. The balance between porch light and door is nice here.
We hope you are inspired to give your front entry a fresh makeover for the summer months by installing a new, modern porch light. It will change your entire front entrance.