How Long Does It Take To Install Recessed Lighting?

What is holding you back from that recessed lighting project? Maybe it's money or motivation, or perhaps you're just afraid of how much time the project will take. When it comes to finally deciding to install that new lighting in your house, the amount of time it could take is a very valid concern. That's why we have done the research for you! That way, you can make a plan to have the beautiful recessed lighting you've always wanted!

It takes around 30 minutes - 1 hour to install one recessed light unit. Depending on how many are being put in, the total installation time will likely be between 2 - 4 hours. This is with just the installation process and time for planning or gathering supplies and materials. To know where this time frame comes from, it's good to have an overview of the installation process.

  • Preparation
  • Cut holes
  • Prepare the wiring
  • Wire the fixture
  • Install the fixture
  • Test the lights

A lot goes into making sure the recessed lighting is installed correctly and safely. However, once all of the materials and tools are gathered, you only have to dedicate an afternoon to get this project done. To better understand the whole process, it's good to know about each step in more detail. Make sure to keep reading below for an in-depth look into installation and more questions that may come up!

Installing recessed light into Ceiling Fixture, How Long Does It Take To Install Recessed Lighting?

Why It Takes 2 - 4 Hours For Installation

This is, of course, a rough time frame since many different factors can weigh on how long the process takes. On average, the installation will take a bit longer if you're doing it yourself and you've never done it before. On the other hand, a licensed professional that does this job regularly should get it done in the shown time.

It's also vital to work safely, even if it adds some time to the projects. Each step should take roughly half an hour for several lights. 


Preparing to do the work correctly and safely is possibly the most critical step. First, make sure that the electricity is off before going anywhere near the wiring. Then use a pencil to map out and draw where you will make the holes for the lighting. Taking as much time as needed to get the placements exact will save a massive headache later on. There's nothing worse than cutting holes and then realizing they're not even or right where they should be. 

Cut Holes

Once everything is prepared, the holes can be cut for the can light fixtures. As long as everything was already drawn, then the cutting shouldn't take too long. It's important not to rush the cutting either for you and your ceiling's sake. 

Prepare The Wiring

This is when you have to be extra careful since you're starting to work with the electrical. If there is no existing wiring for recessed lighting, then you need to run new wiring for each light. You need to connect it to the power source, then the power switch, and then to the hole for the light. There should be a little excess wire to easily attach it to the fixture. Then that has to be done for each hole. 

Wire The Fixture

Depending on what kind of fixture is being used, attaching the wires may differ a little. The fixture will likely have a junction box with the wire in it. General, the wiring connections will go black to black, white to white, and the ground wire to the ground wire. Wire clips or electrical tape will also want to be used to ensure the wires are as secure as possible. Then all of the fixtures can be wired like that one until completed. 

Install The Fixture

This final installation step shouldn't take too long, but again, you shouldn't rush. The fit of the fixture into the ceiling should have clips that you hold in as you push the fixture into the ceiling. Then you have to let go, and the clamps will do their job holding the fixture in.

Depending on the recessed lighting that's being installed, the trim may be different. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the trim accurately. For a visual of the entire installation process, here is a great video.

Test The Lights

The final step, and hopefully the shortest, is to make sure everything is working. Turn the electricity back on and test all of the lights. Hopefully, there are no problems, and all that's left is the clean-up! If something is not working properly, then time will have to be spent troubleshooting and fixing the issue. 

More Lighting Questions

recessed light with three different kelvin temperature colours

Knowing the installation process step by step helps to better understand why it takes the time it does, but what about other concerns with installation? The time frame might be your biggest concern, but that doesn't mean it's your only one. If other lighting options take a different amount of time to install, would that sway your choice? 

How Much Does It Cost to Have Recessed Lighting Installed?

When having a professional install your recessed lighting, it can cost $200 - $500 per light. This price range can differ wildly depending on a lot of things. From the type of recessed lights you want to where you live and who you go to in your area.

With installation prices like that, it can easily cost over $1000 to have several lights placed in your home. As with any home improvement project, it is much cheaper to do it on your own. However, you have no idea what pitfalls might occur, and you have to deal with them if they do!

How Long Does It Take To Install A Light Fixture?

For a standard light fixture, it can take around 1 - 2 hours for installation. This is if everything goes smoothly. Figuring out the wiring alone for a light fixture can take much longer. Also, this time frame can vary depending on the light fixture. For example, it's not going to take the same amount of time to install a chandelier as it does a small flush light. 

How Long Does It Take To Install Track Lighting?

The amount of time it takes to install track lighting can differ, just like any other type of lighting. It can take 1 - 3 hours to complete a track lighting project. Since it is attached directly to the ceiling, no large holes must be coordinated and then cut. So some of the planning and installing process takes a little less time than installing several recessed lights. 

How Long Does It Take To Install A Pendant Light?

Installing a pendant light fits into the standard time frame of 1 - 2 hours for a light fixture. Since there is only one light fixture, you only have to do each step once. This is opposed to repeating the steps for as many fixtures that you have, like with recessed lighting. Like with any installation, the time frame can change depending on any problems that may occur during the process. 

How Long Does It Take to Install A Chandelier?

For a chandelier, it's also going to take 1 - 2 hours to install. This can change depending on the same things as the other fixture. It can also vary depending on the chandelier. Since they are often large and ornate, extra attention has to be given to them. For these larger and more expensive chandeliers, it may take more time to complete the job. However, given how fragile they can be, you'll be glad the extra care was taken. 

Finishing Up

Installing recessed light into Ceiling Fixture, How Long Does It Take To Install Recessed Lighting?

Since there's usually, several recessed light fixture being installed at once, the entire process can take 2 - 4 hours. This time frame also depends on all of the steps of installation going smoothly. The biggest problem that usually affects this time frame is with the wiring. It can be tricky to get it right, so that can add time to the process.

The time frame can also be extended if the job is not done by a professional. Overall installing recessed lighting isn't an incredibly difficult job. You have to be careful with the wiring and do it several times!

For more recessed lighting information and ideas, click on the links below!

How To Reduce Glare From Recessed Lighting

How Far Apart Should Recessed Lighting Be?

10 Best Sloped Ceiling Recessed Lighting Fixtures

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