Help & advice: How to move or add ceiling lights
How to move or add ceiling lights
Moving a light or adding some extra ones? Our easy-to-follow guide shows you how it's done.
This guide is only relevant if you're using the existing light switch and wiring. If you're adding new ceiling lights, the guide also assumes you have access to the ceiling void from above.
In the UK, all work should be carried out to BS7671 and Approved Document P of the Building Regulations. It's illegal to do electrical installations in a kitchen, bathroom or garden without the work being inspected and approved by a Part P registered electrician or a local building control officer being informed beforehand. The replacement of accessories is considered acceptable if done competently.
Class 1 equipment (metal fittings that rely on earthing as their protective measure) can only be fitted where there's a reliable earth at the point of installation. In some older installations (approximately pre-1966) you get lighting circuits wired without an earthing facility. On no account should Class 1 equipment be connected to these installations. Contact a qualified electrician.
Remember to follow manufacturer's instructions. If you're unsure, get help from a qualified electrician. We recommend you use an NICEIC-registered electrician.
Four terminal junction
Two core wire
- If you're not confident about ensuring the circuit you'll be working on is dead and isolated, follow the Electrical Safety Council's 'Guidance on the management of electrical safety and safe isolation procedures for low voltage installations'. You can find the guide at esc.org.uk under Best Practice Guides in the Industry section.
- Always turn off the power supply at the consumer unit (fuse box) before starting electrical work.
- If you can, switch on the relevant light before you turn off the power supply. This way you'll be able to check you've turned off the correct circuit breaker or fuse.
- Take out the relevant fuse or ensure that the relevant miniature circuit breaker (MCB) is in the off position and effectively disabled. Then it can't be accidentally switched back on.
- Make sure you can reach the ceiling light fittings without over-extending yourself – use a ladder if you need to.
- Once the power has been disconnected and verified 'dead' (see Section 1), remove the bulb, lampshade and existing ceiling rose cover (normally you can unscrew it) to reveal the rose mounting box and wiring.
- Wiring colours in the UK were changed in April 2006. Fig. 1 shows the wiring colours for installations before and after April 2006.
- Where differing wiring identification colours exist, a warning label should be attached at the consumer unit.
- Now check if you're working with a junction box or loop-in circuit. Junction box circuits usually have only one cable entering the rose mounting box. But they can have two or more cables when a ceiling rose has been used to loop one or more light fittings into it. Loop-in circuits have two or three cables. How you move or add ceiling lights depends on the type of circuit (figs. 2a and 2b).
- Decide where you're putting your new light fitting and make a small hole in the ceiling with a bradawl, old small screwdriver or nail to minimise the chance of damaging a hidden cable or pipe.
- Make sure there are no wires in the ceiling space that you might cut or touch when drilling through the ceiling.
Disconnect all wires connecting the existing light fitting to the rose mounting box by releasing them from the terminals with a small screwdriver. Before you disconnect wires, make a note of which terminal each wire connects to, so you can reflect this sequence when you make any changes. Marking each wire with different coloured tape and photographing the set-up could help you.
- a. Using a screwdriver, carefully release the junction box light spur cable wiring from terminals on the rose mounting box. Then unscrew the rose mounting box from the ceiling.
- b. Take the junction box light cable and push it back up into the ceiling space.
- c. The next steps now take place inside the ceiling space.
- d. If the existing light spur cable is long enough to reach the new position, you could connect the new light fitting to it (assuming it's in good repair). Take the existing cabling and feed it through the new hole. Now fix your new ceiling rose to the new location.
- e. If the current light spur cable isn't long enough, replace it with a new length of 1mm2 or 1.5mm2 two-core-and-earth cable, extending from the existing junction box to the new light position. The cable mustn't be in contact with thermal insulation or a source of heat such as central heating pipework. If required, follow steps f to m.
- f. Trace the existing light spur cable back to the junction box (fig. 3).
- g. Take the junction box cover off. Use a screwdriver to disconnect the existing light spur cable wires from the terminals in the junction box. Take care not to displace any other wires. Take a note of the existing terminal connection points so you can replicate the sequence.
- h. Connect the new two-core-and-earth cable to the correct terminals on the junction box. Make sure you cover the bare earth wire with a green and yellow sleeve. Then put the junction box cover back on.
- i. Feed the new lighting cable through your new hole and enter the room again.
- j. Hold the rose mounting box in place and mark the screw positions for attaching to the ceiling.
- k. Connect the new lighting cable to the rose mounting box. You can now fix the box to the new ceiling position with the screws provided.
- l. Screw on the ceiling rose cover, add the lampshade (if you have one) and bulb. Then switch on the power supply.
- m. Hide the marks left by the old light with filler and paint.
- For junction box circuits you can add a new junction box into the power cable circuit or add a spur from an existing junction box (we only focus on this option). Or add a spur from an existing ceiling rose to your new light location (see Section 9).
- When you've created your new light position (Section 4), follow the method in Section 6. But instead of replacing the old light spur cable, attach the new light spur wires to the terminals into an existing junction box.
- Connect the live (brown or red) wire to the existing live (brown or red wire) terminal, the neutral (blue or black) wire to the power circuit neutral (blue or black) terminal, and the earth wire (sleeved in green and yellow) to the earth terminal (fig. 4).
- With a screwdriver release the wires from the terminals on the rose mounting box for each attached cable. Then unscrew the box.
- Push all the loose cables back up into the ceiling space.
- The next steps now take place within the ceiling space.
- Take a new four-terminal junction box and connect the wires of the loose cables you've just pushed through into the ceiling space (fig. 3).
- Connect the live (brown or red), neutral (blue or black) and earth (bare) wires of the power circuit cable(s) to three separate terminals within the junction box. Cover the bare wire with a green and yellow sleeve.
- Taking the switch cable, connect the live (brown or red) wire to the designated live terminal, the earth (bare) wire to the designated earth terminal (sleeve wire as above) and the (blue or black) wire to the fourth terminal that's currently unused. The blue or black cable connected to the fourth terminal should be marked or sleeved with brown tape to show it's live.
- Now run a new length of 1mm2 or 1.5mm2 two-core-and-earth light spur cable, extending from the location of the new light, and wire it into the new four-terminal junction box. Connect its live (brown or red) wire to the fourth terminal where the neutral (blue or black) switch wire has been connected, its neutral (blue or black) wire to the power cable neutral (blue or black) terminal, and its earth wire (sleeved in green and yellow) to the earth terminal.
- To complete the job, follow steps 6i to 6m.
In line with BS7671, the junction box, with its screwed terminations, must always be accessible for inspection.
- To add a new light in a room on the same light switch, simply add a spur from an existing ceiling rose to your new light location.
- Complete Sections 2 to 4. Then connect a new length of 1mm2 or 1.5mm2 two-core-and-earth cable, extending from the location of your new light position to the ceiling rose you're adding the spur to.
- Feed the new spur cable from the ceiling space into the back of the existing rose mounting box (fig. 5). Temporarily take out the screws holding the box to the ceiling. This will give you room to manoeuvre.
- Connect the live (brown or red) wire to the fourth terminal where the blue or black with brown sleeving switch wire has been connected, the neutral (blue or black) wire to the power circuit neutral (blue or black) terminal, and the earth wire (sleeved in green and yellow) to the earth terminal.
- To complete the job, follow steps 6i to 6m.