How Hard Is It To Install Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lights, also known as can lights and pod lights, are becoming a more popular interior lighting choice. Depending on your experience with home construction and electrical work, you may be able to install the lighting yourself. But is it hard to do? We've looked into the difficulty of installing recessed lighting, and in this post, we will answer these questions for you.

Recessed lighting isn't necessarily difficult to install, though it does a bit of knowledge about electricity some level of construction know-how. The most challenging part of installing the lights will be cutting the holes in the ceiling for the lights and then fitting the light properly.

If you're unfamiliar with electrical wiring, this can also present its challenges. If you are unfamiliar with working with electricity or drilling through drywall, you may want to hire a handyman to perform this task-- and only if you are planning to install more than 4 or 5 lights.

Still want to know more about this topic? Keep reading to learn more! We'll also cover other common questions when it comes to installing recessed lighting. 

Installing recessed lighting bulbs, How Hard Is It To Install Recessed Lighting?

Challenges of Installing Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting can be easy or difficult to install depending on whether or not you know the basics of electrical wiring and its functions. It also helps if you have experience drilling into drywall, as you'll need to get into the ceiling and create a hole for the light or its housing component. Here are a few challenges that can come with the task.

It can be physically demanding

Some recessed lighting jobs may be more difficult than others due to the room where the lighting will be located and the number of lights installed. Remember, installing recessed lighting typically involves drilling holes into the ceiling where the light fixtures will be placed.

This task can be a bit physically draining, especially if you are over 35 or have any shoulder, arm, or back issues. It can also be tiring if you are installing more than a few lights. For example, if you are looking to provide full lighting to a 1200 sqft basement, you may find this task to be incredibly challenging-- mainly if you're doing it alone.

It can be hazardous

The big challenge to installing recessed lighting as a homeowner is the hazard potential. It's always important to know your way around your home's electrical components and wires, as well as the lights that you're installing. You also want to ensure that you know your way around your circuit breaker and its limitations to ensure that your lighting installation does not cause it to trip or malfunction.

Also, you'll need to know which breaker to turn off so that you may install the lighting without risking potential electrocution. Connecting electrical wires improperly can lead to fire hazards, power outages, and energy drainage. So if you don't feel confident in your knowledge about electricity, it may be best to hire an electrician with the standard NEC license

Installation requires familiarity with construction tools

The most common tools that you need when installing recessed lighting are a drill and a saw. The most common types of saws used to drill the holes for the lighting are reciprocating saws, hand saws, and hole saws.

Reciprocating saws are reasonably easy to work with. Still, it helps if you are familiar with them, as it can keep you from accidentally creating incorrectly sized holes in your ceiling. Sometimes it's best to practice using these tools first before using them on your ceiling or walls.

If you are on the fence about deciding on whether or not you should install recessed lighting yourself or hire a handyman, it's best to consider your experience with electricity and interior construction and addition to the budget that you have for the project.

Of course, safety should always be the priority, and it may be helpful to get a few quotes to get an idea of how much it will cost to hire a contractor to do the work for you.

Do you need an electrician to install recessed lighting?

A man installing a 100W light for the recessed lighting, How To Remove Old Recessed Lighting Cans

If you've never worked with electrical components and systems, it's typically best to hire an electrician to perform the task for you. A licensed electrician can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour, depending on your location. You'll also want to consider how many lights you have to install come at some contractors will charge a fee per light. The fee can range anywhere from $20 to over $100 per light installed.

How to install canless recessed lighting?

The process for installing canless recessed lighting is pretty straightforward, and it doesn't differ too much from the installation of canned recessed lighting. Let's take a look at the steps involved.

Things you'll need:

  • Recessed lights
  • Wire stripper
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill and appropriate drill bits
  • Drywall circle cutter or manual drywall saw

Measure the room

Start by measuring the room in which the lights would be located. Measure the width and length of the room and write them down on a piece of paper. This will help you determine the best setup for your lighting type. During this time, you'll have a better idea of how to set up the light spacing for full, accent, or complimentary lights.

Find measuring tape on Amazon.

Shut off the power

Next, go to the circuit breaker for your home and shut off the electricity to the room in which the lighting will be located. This will prevent you from being electrocuted while removing and configuring the wiring for the recessed lights.

Remove the old with a lights

If you're replacing the canned lights with canless or LED lights, go to each light and remove them one by one. To do this, first, test the wiring with the voltage meter to ensure that the light is turned off, and then remove the trim around the can. Next, remove the light bulb from its position, and then the housing as well. If installing recessed lighting for the first time, you can skip this step.

Cut holes in the ceiling

Take a hole saw or reciprocating saw and cut a hole in the ceiling where the lights will be placed. You can also use a drywall circle cutter for this task to help save time. You'll also want to trace the hole with a marker or a piece of chalk before cutting the ceiling.

Check out this reciprocating saw on Amazon.

Thread in the cable

Canless lights usually come with a cable that is connected to the back of the light. When you remove the wires from the package, be sure to place the cables inside the hole that you just drilled and run the wire to the electrical wires in your ceiling.

Connect the wires

Check the diagram on the instructions that came with your canless lighting kit to ensure that you're connecting the light's wires properly to your home's wires. Remember, electrical wires are connected based on a color scheme.

If your lighting has a transformer box, you'll want to make sure that you connected to the wires per the instructions on the diagram. You may also need to connect this transformer box to the joist on your ceiling.

Add the lights

Next, add the lights to the ceiling by connecting them to the cables on the transformer box or the other electrical wires. Most lights will come with hooks or clamps on the edges to attach the lighting to the ceiling. Be sure to attach the hooks to the side of the lights and then place them on the ceiling to secure them. You should hear the clamps snap in place when they are secure. You may need to drill the clamp in some cases.

Check out this drill on Amazon.

Test the lights

After installing all of the lights, turn on the power at the breaker box and then the switch to test the lights for operation.

Take a look at the process here:

How long does it take to install recessed light?

It depends on the type of and the number of lights being installed. If you're stalling canned lights, installation may take a bit longer if there are obstructions to the can fitting in the ceiling or issues with connecting the wiring. On average, installing recessed lights can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours or more.

Easiest recessed lighting to install?

Many homeowners may agree that installing canned recessed lighting is easier due to the lights' smaller housing and the easy connectivity of the transformer box to the housing wires. However, it will depend on the brand of lights you purchased, as they may have a different set of requirements.

Wrapping Things Up

Installing recessed lighting bulbs, How Hard Is It To Install Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lights can add personality to your home, but it's telling them should be done with caution. If you don't believe that you have the electrical skills to install them yourself, it's best to contact a licensed professional.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Reduce Glare From Recessed Lighting

12 Types Of Recessed Lighting [And 4 Types Of Compatible Lightbulbs]

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