Way back when, in the earliest days, humans spent a lot of time in the dark. Before they captured fire they had to rely on the light cast by the sun and moon and stars.
I suspect that fire was put to work pretty early on. Exactly when that happened I don’t know. I wasn’t there when it happened. Maybe I’m old, but not that old. But holding up a burning stick, torch or candle doesn’t give off a lot of light. So it was still kinda dark. And hard to get some things done.
Today we still rely on the sun and moon for light. We build houses and buildings with lots of windows. And we use a modern day version of harnessing fire for light. It’s called electricity. Which can be created in many ways. Including the use of solar panels to capture the suns energy.
Now we create light with electricity, and light bulbs. Based on recent experience, I can tell you there are a lot of kinds of light bulbs!
My laundry room doesn’t have any windows. Thus it’s got lights so I can see what I’m doing when I toss my togs into the machine. The room is big enough that it needs two overhead lights.
A couple of months ago one of them started flickering, and finally went out. Since I still had one light, lighting the unlit one was not high on my priorities list.
Then one day I flipped on the switch and both lights came on. Hmmm. It worked for a while but went dark again. I was hoping it would come back to life again but it didn’t so I replaced the two fluorescent bulbs. Circular bulbs rather than long tubes. Good light.
After a few weeks the same on and off foolishness started. I was afraid to turn the lights off. Would that one come back on? Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. I decided to replace the ballast. That was a new experience for me. Word of advice- make sure you turn off the power before you start messing with this task! Being zapped by electricity is not pleasant.
Kill the power to the laundry room. Now I’m in the dark. Break out the portable spotlight. Remove light cover. Remove ballast. Install new ballast. Oops! Doesn’t fit. My bad.
To make a long story short, I decided that it would be easiest to just replace the lights completely. So I thought anyway…
At the building supply store there are hundreds of light fixtures. And that’s just in the overhead light section. There are also lamps, wall lights, outdoor spotlights and walkway lights, staircase lights, under counter lights and nightlights. And they can be powered by solar panels, batteries or electricity. Ceiling lights come as hanging, flush mounted and recessed.
As for style, you can find modern, traditional, farmhouse, industrial, vintage and contemporary. With finishes in chrome, brushed nickel, brass, painted, mirrored, or accented with cloth shades and crystals. Some lights even come with fans. Or maybe it’s the fans that come with lights.
Did you say bulbs? Fluorescent, like the ones I had. Those circular bulbs were expensive! Incandescent. White, clear, sunlight, daylight, bright white. And LED. Throw all that into the mix.
After staring up at the ceiling for what seemed like hours, I forced my neck to bend so that my head could once again look forward and move side to side. And made a decision on a light fixture. Pretty simple. And largely based on price. Not the cheapest, because I didn’t want to look cheap, but certainly not the most extravagant. Very tasteful. It’s a flush mounted light. Round with brushed nickel trim and an opaque white glass globe. Eleven inches in diameter. Now for the easy part. Installation.
Earlier, when I was working on replacing the ballast and disconnecting the light, I made sure someone else was in the house. That was my way insuring that if for some reason the power was still on when I grabbed hold of he black wire, and I was being electrocuted, someone might be able to run at my pulsating body and knock me away from the live wire. That hadn’t happened so I decided to do the light swap out while I was home alone. This would also allow me to say bad words in frustration without offending anyone.
Shut off the power. Hook up the spotlight. Climb the stepladder with screwdrivers and wrenches. All set. The first light would be easy. It was already half taken apart and all I had to do was connect the new light to the bare wires. Before I could begin this, I had to put a bracket into the electrical box to hold the fixture. No problem I thought.
The screwdriver I chose for securing the bracket was a perfect fit. Phillips head. But the handle was small and it was slipping in my hand. It took a thousand turns to get each screw all the way in. It seemed like it anyway. I connected the wires. And started to push them all up into the box. Then I realized two things. The power wire had come loose, and I couldn’t cram the wires all up inside the box with the bracket in place. I had to remove it. A thousand turns out. All the while the light fixture is dangling in the air, held up only by the wire connections.
I then stripped a little more of the covering off of the black wire to get a better connection inside the wire nut. And pushed all of the wires up into the box as much as I could while still leaving me enough room to get a screwdriver up to tighten the screws holding the bracket. A thousand turns. Success. Wires still connected. And all shoved into the box.
Now slide the base over the bolt that would hold the globe, and slide said globe over the bolt. And the bolt is too long. Oh shit. The wrench doesn’t fit snugly enough to loosen the nut that allows for adjustment of the bolt. And I can’t get the bolt to turn either. A thousand turns. Once again. Back to square one. All the while trying to do all of this work on the stepladder, with my arms raised over my head. And the fixture is dangling by its wires again.
Ok. A final assault. With the bolt properly adjusted and the wires shoved up into the box, I put the bracket back on. You know – a thousand turns. And I slid the globe on. And tightened the nut to hold it in place. Finished. At last.
That took an hour and a half. And I was tired. I flipped on the power, and the switch and damn if it didn’t work like a charm. I’d do the other one the next day. And I’d know a lot of tricks for shortcuts.
For the second fixture I prepared by stripping the black wire a little bit and adjusting the length of the hanging bolt. I connected the wires and pushed them way up into the box. Then, with a bigger screwdriver, I did the thousand turns routine. But I’d only do it once this time! I slid the base over the bolt, slid the globe up and started to put on the final nut. Which slipped out of my hand. And got lost somewhere. Found the lock washer that had also fallen, but the nut was gone. Who knows where. Fortunately I had another nut. But the globe had to come off, and the base, while I climbed down from the ladder to crawl around on the floor, in the semi darkness, looking for the nut. And the fixture was hanging by its wires. I dropped that damn nut two more times before I finally got the whole fixture properly secured. But I got it done. And it looked great.
Flip the breaker on, hit the power switch and as the good book says, sort of, “Matt said, Let there be light!!” And there was. A big and beautiful glow that made my heart feel warm. Damn I’m good. Ok, so capable is a better word. And determined.
So I’ve got two new light fixtures, they look great, and I’ll never have to change a bulb because they are LEDs. These suckers may outlive me! I hope not, but I don’t think it will be me who changes them out next time.
My laundry room, without any windows, is now a well lit, cozy place to be. Not that I’m going to change my feelings toward doing laundry because of that. But at least I’ll be able to see what I’m doing. On to the next project!!!
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?