Recessed lighting became popular during the 1990s and remains a popular choice for lighting today. These are also known as can lights or pot lights and are ideal in kitchen and dining spaces or above a desk that requires focused light. These lights offer a low-profile lighting solution that adds style to a home.
The cost of installing recessed lighting depends on how many lights you need and what style you choose. The installation labor will also affect this project, which can be significant due to wiring the lights and installing them in the ceiling. You can also invest in smart lights or switches with your recessed lighting setup for home automation, which will increase the cost of the project slightly. The biggest cost consideration, by far, is the size of the job.
DIYing a Recessed Lighting Installation
If you plan on installing recessed lighting yourself, you’ll need to understand and secure the different parts of a recessed light, which are the following:
Housing: The piece that is actually mounted to the ceiling. Housing comes in two styles, which are: new construction housing (typically used when there is a lot of space above the ceiling to install it, like an attic), and remodel housing (installed by wiring the fixture and then pushing it up into the ceiling as opposed to installing from above).
Baffles: The piece of recessed lighting that covers the “can” to make it look more finished.
Trim: The piece of recessed lighting that covers the hole that was cut for the light, which hides jagged cuts and gives it a more polished look.
Recessed lighting comes in all different price points, but you can purchase a recessed lighting kit starting at $27 and spend up to $150 for a single light if it includes dimmers.
How to Install Recessed Lighting
- Cut the power and cut a hole for the light. Switch off the breaker in the room you’ll be working in and then cut a hole (or holes) in the ceiling where the light(s) will go. You can either do this from the attic or cut from below, depending on what kind of setup you have and type of housing you purchased.
- Connect the wiring, insert the light, and finish it up. After the hole has been cut, you’ll then connect the wiring to your light’s junction box and then carefully insert the housing into the hole that you’ve cut and secure using the clips that are on the edges of the fixture. Once the housing is completely secure on the ceiling, you’ll then install the baffle, trim, and then finally the lightbulb.
Although DIYing recessed lighting would likely save you money, there are a lot of pitfalls associated with doing this project on your own. This project involves both a ladder and cutting holes in the ceiling—two things that can be pretty risky, even for the avid home repairman.
Professional Recessed Lighting Installation
If the thought of installing new electrical wiring in your home is beyond your capabilities—or it’s actually not allowed under your city code—then you’re going to need to hire a professional electrician to get the job done for you.
It will cost you roughly $130 per light to get recessed lighting professionally installed. However, hiring a professional to do this job for you will give you peace of mind and you’ll know that it was done correctly and up to code the first time.
Recessed lighting installation: by type of outlet and service, including materials and labor costs.
|Can lights-indoor||$20-$200 each|
|Dimmers or smart switches||$50-$100 per component|
|Can lights-outdoor||$150-$200 each|
|Installation and wiring||$170-$350 per light|
Recessed lighting installation: 6 can lights installed in a living room, including material and labor costs.
|Item||Unit Cost||Quantity||Line Cost|
|Indoor can lights||$65 per light||6||$390|
|Dimmer switch||$50 per unit||1||$50|
|Wiring and installation||$250 per light||6||$1,500|
|Total Cost||$323 per light||6||$1,940|
Other considerations and costs
- Installation that involves relocating joists, ducts, or other wiring can incur a premium charge and increase the installation cost by a couple of hundred dollars. If possible, try to install recessed lighting in open spaces to avoid this.
- Recessed lighting installation involves cutting holes in the ceiling. Thus, the project is going to be significantly cheaper to put into new construction before the ceiling is finished as opposed to retrofitting them into existing construction.
- There are specialty lights designed to use near attic spaces. They are differentiated with an “IC” label, which means they are approved for insulation contact without causing safety risks.
- This job is usually priced by the light for labor and installation costs. Some installers or electricians might charge by the square foot, at an hourly rate, or by the job. Be sure to check your estimate and know what you are paying for, regardless.
- If you have experience with electrical wiring, you may be able to install your own recessed lighting and save the labor costs. Electrical work is dangerous, though, and it should not be performed by anyone who doesn’t have experience.
- Always make sure that you turn the power off to the house when you are working with any type of electrical project. While turning it off to the room where you are working might seem sufficient, it is safer if the main power is off.
- These lights are connected in a string, of sorts, to the power source. If wiring them yourself, be sure to secure all connections with wire nuts for effective operation.