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Guide to Changing a Light Fitting in Australia
- Published: Mar 03/2021
- Last update: Apr 18/2023
- 8min read
- Views: 3,181
Changing a light fitting is not a challenging task. However, it involves handling electrical wires. It’s obvious why this kind of activity can be dangerous – wires conduct electricity, which if not handled correctly, can be life-threatening. Because of that, the Australian government has implemented various laws and regulations against unlicensed electrical work.
Any activity that involves handling of electrical wires can get you in trouble unless you have the proper training and professional licence. This, in turn, begs a number of questions, which is why we’ve prepared this guide to shed some light on the process of light fitting installation in Australia.
Keep reading to learn more about electrical safety during light fighting installation, the cost of installing lights and the electrician hourly rate in Australia.
Yes, in most cases, you do need a professional electrician to change a light fitting. Depending on your particular situation, there might be something you can do. There’s more to light fittings than just wires. If you wonder what electrical work you can do without a licence, here’s a list of jobs you can do by yourself:
In other words, you can do any sort of DIY electrical work that doesn’t expose you to the risk of electrocution. However, if you need to do more than just change light bulbs, then you best hire a licensed tradesman. In addition to changing a light fitting, other common electrical problems you should hire a professional for include:
These jobs might seem trivial, but don’t be deceived – the risks are real. Expert electricians understand those risks because they are educated about how electricity works. This is critical to carrying out repairs safely!
Due to the constant electricity flow, cables and cords can develop cracks, cuts, or abrasions in their insulation, exposing the copper wire underneath. If your skin comes in contact with that wire, you will get shocked and possibly burned. What’s more is that electricity causes your muscles to contract, so if you were unlucky enough to hold that wire in your hand – you wouldn’t be able to let go.
On top of that, changing light fittings requires proper grounding. This is the process of returning electrical discharge straight to the earth plate. DIY electrical work can turn your body into the “wire” that electricity passes through to reach the ground. Tampering with the grounding process is easy when you’re unaware of how it works.
To stress the importance of this matter, the Australian government has issued laws stating that everyone, who performs electrical work, should hold an appropriate licence. You can check your hired electrician’s licence in the occupational public register.
Knowing the risks, you probably understand why electrical repairs are best left to those who are masters in the field.
With all the information about light fitting installation and replacement, you’re probably asking yourself, “How much do electricians charge to install lights?”. The average hourly rate for an electrician in Australia could range from $50 to $95, depending on how they price their work and some other factors, which we will describe in detail in this section, too.
First, let’s look into the different service charging methods. Some electricians charge a more significant call-out fee that covers the first hour and then ask for a smaller hourly fee for any extra time they spend. Others might set a fixed hourly rate (without an initial call-out charge) that is slightly higher than the average rate. A third option is to pay for the job altogether, regardless of how many hours it takes to complete. The price may not include the materials, but this should all be discussed with the electrician prior to the service.
Which pricing option you choose depends entirely on what you feel comfortable with. However, keep in mind that paying a fixed hourly rate with no call-out fee could sometimes cost you more, especially with shady electricians, who take their time to increase their pay.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what additional factors might affect the final price of changing light fittings. The cost of changing lights depends on many things:
The type of light fitting is one of the major factors. For example, pendant lights require a skilled touch and longer power cords to hang securely. The average cost of installing pendant lights is around $400 for a set of 3, while the cost to install one pendant light might range from $120 to $160.
Another good example of how much different lights cost to fit or replace is installing downlights – a kit costs between $15 and $25 for a standard light. While you can buy the lights yourself, you need a licensed electrician to install them on your ceiling initially. The cost of installing downlights can vary from $50 to $70 per light, but some electricians could charge as much as $110-120 if the job requires extra tools or your house’s internal electrical grid is old and faulty.
The task to change a light fitting has several different steps. From inspection, through execution, to testing, the process is simple. Your technician will stop the electricity, take the old light fitting down and put the new one in its place. If you ask the experts how to change a light fitting, they will most likely describe the following steps:
If everything is working as intended, your technician will issue a certificate of compliance that you need to keep safe for up to 5 years. This certificate will serve as proof that your light fitting installation was done professionally by a licensed electrician and is up to the highest standards, in terms of safety. Keep in mind that sometimes, you might not receive this certificate right away – the period for issuing one for electrical repairs is up to 30 days after the job completion.
With so many electricians offering their services to the public, you are probably wondering about who to trust. Before you hire anybody to replace a light fitting, you need to think about what makes an electrician reliable. Here are a few things to look out for when hiring an electrician to replace your ceiling lights:
Without a licence to operate, electricians can’t perform any sort of electrical work on your premises. Check the expiry date and name on the licence to see if the technician’s name is the same as on their ID. Ask them to prove that all their papers are up-to-date since unlicensed work can cause problems for you.
Some technicians work freelance, while others join different companies. Always check how many people are working with the technician who comes to your house and, if he’s a part of a company, what reputation their company has in the field. A company’s size can often speak about how long it has been in business. Larger companies have more people because they’ve had the time to develop and expand the range of services they offer.
The difference between an experienced lighting expert and one who’s fresh out of college is simple – the seasoned pro has work habits. Those habits include always arriving on time and giving accurate information about their service. On top of that, an electrician, who knows what they’re doing, will generally complete the work within the timeframe they’ve said they need to do the job. Of course, delays could always happen, but the chance for that gets smaller as technicians gain more experience.
The best type of recommendation is the one you get from friends and family, neighbours or other people you might know. A person, who you trust to recommend you with a service, will usually talk about their own experience in the matter. When you hear that a company has done an excellent job at something, make sure to take a note of this. It’s usually a better choice than those you only read about in paid ads.
This one’s a no-brainer. Always check for insurance – every technician you hire to change your light fitting should be fully insured to do so. This provides you with a backup plan if anything goes wrong along the way.
Everybody likes to hear a price before the service is carried out, not after. That way, you can account for the cost when calculating monthly expenses and fit the job in a convenient time for you. After all, you don’t want to break the bank over minor fixes, so why let them add up? Just ask for a quote – lots of companies, including Fantastic Services, give them at the cost of a quick online enquiry. Make sure to compare a few to get the best deal on your service.
Disclaimer: We are a commercial home maintenance service provider. Our purpose with this blog is to provide valuable and accurate content for solely informational purposes. We strongly advise our readers to consider all the risks and health concerns before taking a DIY project. We also highly recommend you get fully informed about the laws and regulations regarding electrical, plumbing and other work in the different states of Australia.