Do I really need an electirican?
November 8, 2017 9:07 AM   Subscribe

I bought this light fixture at Lowes to replace one I already have. The box says it needs to be installed by a licensed electrician. I can't find an electrician to take the job. Can I hire a general handyperson?

My current light is fluorescent, and this one is an LED. I also want to replace the light switches with dimmer switches, which I've already purchased. I haven't yet tried every single electrician in the area, but I would really just like to get this taken care of. I've hired a general handyperson to install other light fixtures in the past. I just want to make sure there isn't a real reason they're saying I need an electrician for this one.
posted by FencingGal to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I am not an expert but I have never heard of such a thing. I install stuff like this myself all the time.

If you would like to pay someone to do it, it seems like Lowes themselves might.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:13 AM on November 8, 2017

When you say your current fixture is fluorescent, do you mean it is a fixture that takes fluorescent tubes with pins on the ends or do you mean it takes regular Edison screw bulbs and you currently have CFLs in it?

If the latter, it's very simple to DIY as long as you follow the correct safety precautions and follow any manufacturer's instructions. If the former, the light could be wired in a way that isn't immediately obvious to an amateur depending on its age, as it may have an integrated ballast or could have a separate one wired in between the switch and the fixture somewhere.
posted by wierdo at 9:20 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

This really shouldn't be too difficult to install, however you say that this is controlled by multiple switches and you have bought multiple dimmers to replace them with. Two concerns there - are the dimmer switches the right type for the fixture load, and are they the right type for the multiple-switch circuit you have.

A 'regular handyman' may be able to replace the fixture, but if your switch circuit is complex (e.g. 3-way dimmers, 4-way dimmers, mix of dimmers and 2-way) they may not be able to get it right.
posted by achrise at 9:34 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

What it says on the box is CYA verbiage. I wouldn't think twice about hiring a competent handyman to do this. You're only really going to need a licensed electrician if you need to pull a permit. This isn't required here.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:08 AM on November 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

You can totally hire a general handyman to do this.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2017

I install stuff like this all of the time. A general handyman would be absolutely fine. They're just trying to reduce their liability.
posted by Ostara at 11:20 AM on November 8, 2017

The light fixture swap should totally be doable. I'm assuming you've got a fixture for the florescent tubes. Other than maybe different mounting holes/locations, and whether there is a box for the power or just romex and caps inside the light might be the only tricky parts.

Installing the dimmer switch might be more problematic. The back/rear footprint for dimmers are larger than a normal on/off toggle switch - it needs more room in the box.

You use plural, so I'm assuming this is a 2-way (or more) switch, so you'll need to pay attention to the wires - there are a few standard setups (red/white/black, red/black/black, red/black/white-with-black-tape), and I have to google it every time.. So pay attention :)

Also, for 2-way (or n-way) you only install ONE dimmer switch, and leave the others as normal toggle switches.
posted by k5.user at 12:22 PM on November 8, 2017

While it isn't in my jurisdiction this kind of work is regulated in some places. Because they only want to produce one set of instructions they print the most restrictive version.

While there is an advantage in hiring an electrician (eg: they can better identify an existing hazard if one exists) changing out a light fixture is within the abilities of a good handyman. Finding a handyman that is actually competent is the problem; electricians see a lot of hinky stuff installed by handymen.
posted by Mitheral at 2:02 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

LED lights need dimmers designed for them. The dimmers that you have might not work properly if they're not correct. You should hire someone that knows what they're doing.
posted by ovvl at 8:45 PM on November 10, 2017

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