About Light Fixtures and No Ground Wire

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Install a Light Fixture without a Ground Wire – Electrical wiring in some older homes does not have a ground wire and and some older homes have ground wires that are bonded behind the electrical box.

What To Do When You Don’t Have a Ground Wire

Electrical Question: I am replacing a porcelain ceiling lamp holder.

  • I bought a new lamp holder with an outlet in it my old one does not have an outlet.
  • It has a grounded screw to attach a grounded wire.
  • I don’t have a grounded wire can I still use this lamp holder?

This electrical wiring question came from: Karen, a Homeowner from Rockford, Illinois

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Karen.

How to Install a Light Fixture without a Ground Wire

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the light fixture(s).
Precaution: Identify the light circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.

Electrical wiring in some older homes does not have a ground wire for outlets ans switches, and some older homes have ground wires that are bonded behind the electrical box. If the box is metal then attach the fixture ground wire to the box. If the box is not metal and a ground wire is not available in the fixture box then you can still install the key less light fixture.

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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.

FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “About Light Fixtures and No Ground Wire”
  1. Michael says:


    I just installed 7 recessed lights in series using BX cable, do I have to attach the green ground wire in each fixture box to the box itself with a grounding screw?

    Thanks alot in advance for your response.


    • Dave Rongey says:

      Yes Michael, the ground wire should be bonded to the metal junction box or enclosure.
      By the way, the wiring connections should be made in parallel, not series – making the connections color to color.

  2. Chris says:

    I Bought a light fixture that does not have a ground wire! The house has a ground wire. The light fixture is new but did not have instructions in box.

    • Bill Kirk says:

      We have a vintage chandelier with no ground wire. In fact, both wires are in clear wiring sheaths, no black or white wire. The ceiling wiring box has a ground wire. My question is what to do with the ground wire in the ceiling wiring box and is there an electrical/fire hazard if the light fixture itself is not grounded into the ceiling wiring box?

  3. Scott Brown says:

    I just bought a motion sensing flood light, The new light doesn’t have a ground wire but the outside light at door has a ground wire that was attached to the old light that came on the single wide. Is this OK or should I somehow fix this?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Scott, the following should assist you:

      The Light Fixture:
      If the new motion sensing flood light is non-metal, or all plastic then the housing of the fixture will not have any metal portion to bind the ground wire to, however most all light fixtures do have a ground wire.

      The Light Box:
      I would make sure the light box that the fixture is being wired to is grounded, and if the box is metal the ground wire should be attached to the box. If the light box is not metal then the ground wire should be bonded to one of the fixture mounting screws.

      The Circuit Wiring:
      If the wiring to the new light does not have a ground wire then one should be provided from the power source using an approved cable.

      I hope this helps, I believe I covered all scenarios of your installation and concern.

      Be Safe,


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