Replacing an Outdoor Entry Light

An alternative title to this post can be, “When Easy Projects End Up Being a Pain and Taking Forever.” It isn’t catchy but it might be more accurate.

I thought I had conquered the light and I had an hour before company came over so I jumped up on the stool and had another go. When I pulled the wires out of the recess, it confirmed that my problem was actually non-existent. True, the fixture had those cloth wires but they were still installed just like the new one would be so, “Voila!” I was able to remove the old fixture within seconds.

Imagine how bright I felt when I just pulled the wires out of the recess so I could actually see them.

Success! I was careful not to let it go to my head. I was fairly certain something would still humble me but I was feeling more confident at this point. Surely the hard part is removing the old fixture, right? I cleaned up the area (and the whole ceiling actually) so I’m relatively bug-free. What a nice feeling.

Black wire, white wire, and (copper) ground wire; just like the directions say!

When I brought out the new light fixture, I realized the new one had two bulbs where the old one only had one bulb. This meant twice the wires on the new fixture. Quick! Research! After a very frustrating search (I kept getting search results for light bulbs which I. Couldn’t. Care. Less. About.), I finally confirmed that it was OK to put both fixture white wires together with the single house white wire and the same for the black wires. You just take the like-wires (for example, all three black) and twist the ends together and then twist the cap on the end. That’s it. tuck them back up into the ceiling box. Repeat this with the next set of wires (for example, all the white wires). The ground wire, the copper ones, only had two so those two have their ends twisted together and then a cap screwed on the end.

OK. I could move forward again.

It was hot and I was working in direct sun. There was a very rude moment where I picked up a pack of old Christmas tags to fan myself as I waited for the laptop to boot up. The old glue on the tag package gave way releasing all the Christmas tags in the package spectacularly pelting me in the face. You never know when you should be wearing your safety goggles so just wear them all the time.

Insult to injury

The pictures stop here. Everything stopped here. For HOURS I wrestled with the new fixture. I was miserable because it was evening (which is the hottest time of day for us) and the front of my house faces west so I got overheated a couple of times. The real culprit of this project is the new fixture. It is ridiculously hard to install. The bracket is fine but it has these wee screws holding it in and some nut system that you have to get the light plate onto blind. You can’t see the bolts so you are trying to feel for the holes in the plate while sweating profusely and getting a charlie horse between your shoulder blades.

Honestly, at almost 9pm I called it. I was a little concerned with their system for fixing the plate to the ceiling. It just doesn’t seem very secure for something that hangs over your head and it is ridiculously hard to get up because you can’t see what you are doing. The cherry on the top is that the bolts have to be precisely right but the plan for that is to try putting the plate up, see they need adjusting, take the plate off, adjust, put the plate back up, see it isn’t right, take it off again and adjust again, etc.

Other house projects took center stage and my poor entry remained unlit with only visible wires above. Finally, during a break from hanging cabinet doors, my brother wanted to tackle the light. I hoped that the problems I had were limited to me but, sadly, he had the same issues.

We finally settled for “good enough” which means the light is mounted but it feels precarious with the wee screws barely in the mounting bracket. Plus, it is really difficult to get the light plate flush against the ceiling so the insulation doesn’t show at the top of the plate. We actually were unable to get that to work. To top it off, the fixture is twisted so it doesn’t hang lined up with any line in the entryway. It looks hap-hazard and sloppy. The only way to get it lined up would be to remove the electical box and turn it so the mounting bracket holds the light lined up with the door.

At this point, it feels like a ridiculous failure. I’m unhappy with the everything about the project. It wasn’t even a light I was in love with. I selected it because it was the best of what was available. I think the answer is going to be to find a circular light with a different installation process. I’m researching them now and have found plenty that I like but nothing under $100. I’m not sure I want to spend that much so I’ll keep looking for some kind of deal.

Any recommendations?

Bookmark the permalink.

Talk to me!