How to Install Recessed Lighting Fixtures

Adding recessed lighting fixtures to your home is an excellent way of minimizing the visual impact of your lights. Recessed lights are also an excellent choice for areas where ceilings are low or you want the focus of the room to be drawn away from the ceiling. While many homeowners may feel more comfortable calling an electrician to make such a large change in a room, a homeowner with some electrical knowledge should be able to install recessed lighting on his own.

When planning to install recessed lighting, keep in mind that the amount of space that each recessed fixture will be able to light will vary according to the manufacturer. However, the rule of thumb is one fixture per every 25 square feet and is often good for planning purposes. Keep in mind that your room will require fewer fixtures if you are using a combination of lighting types.

You should also be aware that you must buy lights marked IC if you are installing in an insulated ceiling. Recessed lighting that is not marked IC runs the risk of overheating and catching the insulation around the fixture on fire. If you must use lights that are not rated IC for a ceiling with insulation in it, plan on clearing out the insulation 6 inches in all directions before beginning.

Before beginning any installation, you should make a recessed lighting installation plan. The easiest way to do this is to measure the room you will be installing the lighting in and then transfer the measurements to a piece of graph paper. You can then plan where you wish to put each light and check your plan for appropriate spacing between fixtures before you begin working on the actual ceiling.

You will also need to check and make sure that there is enough room in the ceiling to accommodate your light. You will not be able to install recessed lighting directly under joists or any other hazard that would block the area for your recessed lighting fixture. Instead, plan on installing recessed fixtures to one side of all of the joists. Keep in mind that even if you are replacing existing lighting with recessed fixtures it does not guarantee there will be enough room.

If you are not sure if you will have enough room, you can drill a small hole into your ceiling to find out. Drill a hole wide enough for a length of strong wire, such as a coat hanger. The wire should be bent in a 90 degree angle leaving about a 5″ section of wire. Insert the wire with the bent portion into the hole, and twirl the wire to see if there are any obstructions. If you can twist the wire 360 degrees without running into any obstructions chances are you can proceed installing your recessed fixtures.

At this point you should turn off the circuit breaker that powers this part of the house. You should also know where the nearest place to tap into the electrical system is to install the lighting fixtures. It is a good idea to make use of an existing switch to power the lights. If you can’t, you might want to call an electrician to install a new switch for your recessed lighting.

After the preparation has been completed, the actual installation of a recessed lighting fixture is fairly easy. First, you should use the template included by the manufacturer or the actual light fixture to trace an outline of the hole you will cut in the ceiling to hold the light fixture. Use a keyhole or drywall saw to cut out the hole.

Now you should run the wire that will power the lights from the switch to the hole where your light fixture will go. You will have to create a junction box at this location. Once you have installed a junction box, attach the wires in the box to the wires in your lighting. You should just be able to match the colors and secure each connection with a wire nut.

With the wires attached, you should be able to coil the wires into the junction box and attach the recessed light into the ceiling. Most kits come with clips that will attach each light to the ceiling, pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions because each kit varies. You should then continue the process with each additional recessed lighting fixture, using the daisy chain method to connect them together.

When each lighting fixture is installed, you should screw in some bulbs and test the lights. Be sure to turn on the breaker so there will be power to the fixtures. If everything turns on and looks good, you can turn off the lights, remove the bulbs, and install any decorative finishes that come with your lights. If all of the bulbs do not come on, turn off the switch, disconnect the electricity to the socket and check your connections.

Installing recessed lighting varies in complexity depending on the amount of fixtures and existing electrical work present. Installing recessed lights is a project for a homeowner with some electrical experience; novices should call an electrician and start with smaller projects. Also, keep in mind that local codes may prohibit you from doing this yourself without an inspection of a licensed electrician after the work is completed.

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