Where to begin when installing ceiling outlets?

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Answered by: Robert, An Expert in the Home Renovations - General Category
Wall mounted televisions, garage door openers and security systems are examples of electrical appliances that might require a ceiling outlet. When installing ceiling outlets, a power source is required. Examples of power sources for a ceiling outlet are an existing light fixture, junction box or running a new circuit from the breaker box. Installing ceiling outlets is easier to complete in houses with an attic that allows access to existing wiring and junction boxes.

Things you will need:

Voltage meter

Stud finder

A cut-in electrical box

Keyhole saw



Receptacle plate

Step 1:

Locate an adequate power source that will supply the ceiling outlet. Light fixtures and ceiling fans located near the desired location of the ceiling outlet sometimes have a continuous power source. Turn off the applicable fixture and remove it to expose the wires. Use a voltage meter to test the wires to determine if there is a separate circuit. Check the attic area for other types of power sources such as junction boxes. Remove any cover plates and test the wires in the junction box using a voltage meter. If a light box or junction box is not available for a power source, install a new wire directly from the breaker box.

Step 2:

Choose a suitable location for the new outlet box. Place the outlet box in an area away from existing ceiling joists or trusses for easier installation. Use a stud finder to identify existing studs or simply inspect the outlet box location from inside the attic area.

Step 3:

Install the ceiling box that will house the new outlet and wire.

Trace the outline of the new ceiling box to the ceiling in the desired location. Use a keyhole saw to cut out the ceiling box opening. Insert the applicable wire from the power source into the cut-in box. Install the cut-in box into the opening and tighten the screws that hold it into place. A cut-in box is a type of box used in remodel applications. The box works by tightening screws attached to a bracket or flaps that open and hold the box securely against existing drywall. This eliminates having to attach the ceiling box to a joist or truss.

Step 4:

Connect the wires to a receptacle using a screwdriver. Black or common wires connect to the brass or copper screw on the receptacle. White or neutral wires connect to the silver screw and bare copper or green ground wires connect to the green grounding screw located on the bottom of the receptacle.

Step 5:

Insert the receptacle and wire neatly in the ceiling box. Tighten the mounting screws to secure the receptacle. Install the receptacle plate to finish the project.


When working in attics and electricity, have someone nearby by in case of any accidents.

Use drop cloths to protect flooring from dropped tools and debris.

After identifying a suitable power source, turn off the main breaker before installing additional wiring.


Finding a suitable power source for the ceiling outlet box requires testing hot wires with the meter, use extreme caution when working with electricity.

Without adequate knowledge and skill working with electric, hire a licensed professional.

Wear a dust mask or respirator when working in attics.

Use extreme caution when working in attics. It gets hot up there and sharp objects exist that can cause injury.

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