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How to Test a Light Fixture with a Multimeter [Step-by-Step Guide]

Suppose, you have added some light fixtures in your home for valentine’s day. As you want to surprise your beloved one, you’ve to make sure everything is working. In that case, if you’ve a multimeter, it can save your day. 

How to test a light fixture with a multimeter?

To test your fixtures, use a multimeter for voltage testing. And to measure AC voltage, set your multimeter to 200 volts. Make a note of the reading. The fixture is good if the voltage is close to 120 volts. A continuity test can be used to determine the resistance between light fixture connectors.

If you have no hurry then let’s move to the detailed section-

Should You Test a Light Fixture?

You may think that the light has an issue or the circuit breaker is turned off. But you are not noticing the fixture. I suggest you test the fixture first. Because the fixture is the end of the whole process. And it can be damaged very often.

The process is relatively easy. If you have used a multimeter to check a battery charger before then you can do this with ease.

Test Light Fixture by Checking Voltage – 5 Simple Steps

A traditional multimeter can compute voltage, resistance, and current. It is also described as a volt-ohm-milliampere. In this way, you can check the voltage of the fixture.

Multimeters are able to detect two distinct forms of voltage. They are alternating current and direct current. AC (alternating current) voltage is used in the electrical wiring of your home. You may also check the small engine ignition coil with it. 

DC (direct current) voltage is used mostly in cars, residential solar systems, and consumer electronics.

Step 1: Set the Voltage

First of all, we have to set a voltage range. For the household, we suggest putting it around 200 volts. Because 120 volts is the voltage used in household circuits.

Step 2: Select the Mode

The multimeter has two modes. AC and DC. You have to select AC mode for testing a light fixture.

Step 3: Configure the Multimeter

From the two leads, connect the black lead with the common port. And put red lead into the mAVΩ port. After that, eject the light from the fixture.

Step 4: Turn on the Breaker for Testing

Activate the power breaker. Connect one lead with the metal socket case of the fixture. With another lead, attach the light to the backside of the socket.

Step 5: Measure the Reading

Now check the reading. If the reading is 120 volt,not 110 volt, then your fixture is in good shape. If not, you may have a faulty breaker, wire, or switch. Your problem must be solved right away or it will get worse. Because it could cause major damage to the whole power cord.

One Important thing is, always try to use a quality multimeter. Because false reading can mislead you. So make sure you have a good one. Here are the two best multimeters you may use:

Etekcity Digital Clamp Meter Multimetermeasures the AC current, good for continuity test as well
INNOVA Auto-Ranging Digital MultimeterEnsures safe use 

They both worked for me. Both are great in my opinion due to their reading accuracy and longevity.

Test Light Fixture by Checking Continuity Test – 5 Easy Steps

Now we will discuss how you can test a fixture by checking continuity. It’s a lot like doing a transformer continuity test. Let’s move to the step-by-step guideline.

Step 1: Precautions to Take

Before beginning work on the light fixture, turn off the power breaker in the breaker box. When working on the ceiling, place the stepladder on a solid surface for your safety. 

Step 2: Unplug the Light Fixture

Check the light first. No issue in the light? Then the problem is either in the light fixture or in the power cords. Sometimes, there might be a black and a white cable. Ensure which one is positive.

Access to the connections hiding behind the fixture is required for inspection. Using a screwdriver, remove the screws that hold the light fixture to the electrical panel.

Step 3: Use a Multimeter

The multimeter has two electrodes with a digital meter. One is black, while the other is crimson. They must be touched by a conductor rather than the insulation that covers the wires.

Step 4: Test the Power Cables

Connect the multimeter to the electrical terminals to conduct a continuity test on the power cables. You’ll need to check the electrodes with the live and neutral wires.

There are several methods for doing this. The easiest way is to attach the electrodes to the brass termination at the back. Then connect the silver-colored bolts on the light fixture’s backside.

The power cables are functioning properly if the meter captures current and shows a numerical value. If this does not occur, it is likely that the problem is with the power cords.

Step 5: Test the Light Fixture

In this step, remove the light fixture from the wall. And unplugging it from the power supply. Then, One electrode has to be connected to the fixture’s brass termination at the back. The other electrode has to connect to the threaded area.

The fixture is not defective if the multimeter shows a reading. If there is no change, then the fixture has a fault. You’ll need to get a completely new one.

Following these 5 steps, you can easily get your job done.

Keep in Mind

If you are not confident enough, then avoid these methods and call a professional. Because everything related to electricity is highly dangerous. If you don’t have basic basic knowledge then I won’t recommend you. 


Question: How do you check the power in a light fixture?

Answer: Touch the sensor tip of a non-contact voltage tester to each of the circuit wires. If the tester flashes when any of the wires are touched, it has power.

Question: How do you test a light fixture before installing it?

Answer: One electrode has to be connected to the fixture’s brass termination at the back. The other electrode has to connect to the threaded area. The fixture is not defective if the multimeter shows a reading.

Question: How many volts should a light socket have?

Answer: 120 volts is the standard voltage supply for households. Line voltage is used in nearly all interior household light fixtures. In most cases, a 120-volt light bulb can be inserted into an indoor light fixture 


Now you are aware of how to test a light fixture with a multimeter.

I hope you’ve sorted out all of your confusion now! One more tip is, always wear shoes and gloves before any electrical work. Because safety first.

Good luck!