Hanging a wall sconce is not that different than installing a ceiling light fixture. Here are the steps involved. Wall sconces and overhead light fixtures mostly differ in external design. Inside they all are about the same, with just “hot”, “neutral” and “ground” wires. If you are new to wiring, you might want to hire an electrician. This guide is meant to describe the process of installing a wall-sconce – it's not a guide to wiring for absolute beginners. When in doubt, ask a professional for help.
As with all electrical installation projects, start by turning the power off. Hometalk.com (a social network dedicated to home improvement) member Stephen O. advised, "First be aware you should find your circuit breaker for the room you are doing the work in and switch it off so you do not get shocked." Merely turning off the wall switch is a short-cut that can still be risky. I like to know that the power is off at the circuit breaker or fuse panel before starting any work. Once you find out which breaker it is, it helps to label the circuit so future work or repairs are simplified.
The Octagonal Box and Its Relatives
Nearly every light in a home is wired through an octagonal or round junction box. The vast majority of lights are designed to be installed to the screw positions found in this type of box. Some lights are asymmetrical and can be mounted in any rotated position, but most have a true top and bottom. Depending on how the original box was mounted, the screw holes rarely line up for a direct install. To work around this condition, a “mounting bracket” is often used. This bracket is sometimes called a bridge bracket or “X” bracket depending on its configuration.
Most wall sconces are mounted directly to the octagonal box via the bracket. In most cases this "box" is nailed to the stud during the original installation. Some lights are installed via an "old work" box which is mounted to the drywall only via a pair of clips that are secured with screws. These can be mounted anywhere...all you need is the power. In both cases the "box" holds 90% of the load. Some sconces may have large bases that dissipate some weight, but the bulk is held by the box, which is pretty rigid.
The simplest form of the bracket consists of a flat bar that has a single large threaded hole in the center. This hole accommodates a threaded tube that is often secured with a pair of lock nuts that allow a fixed amount of wire to extend. (In some light designs the wires pass through this tube.) The fixture is then mounted on this tube with a finial or acorn-type nut holding the light in place. Another common form of this bracket is the “X” bracket, which allows for a pair of lamp mounting screws to be pivoted to the proper position.
Wire, Attach and Test
Once the bracket is in place, the wiring’s ground wire (normally this is a bare copper wire) is attached the bracket's green “ground” screw along with the lamp's ground wire. I then like to connect the white “neutral” to the lamp's white wire(s) and then repeat with the black “hot” wire to the lamps black wire(s). These connections are secured with the wire twist nuts that are usually supplied with your new light.
If you want, this can be a time to test your light before you complete the installation. Just remember to turn the power back off before completing the installation. With the wires secure and functional, neatly tuck the wires into the box and mount the fixture with the various screws, nuts and finials. You may need to level the wall sconce.