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You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

Illuminate Your Space: How to Install Recessed Lighting in Your Home

Interested in installing recessed lighting yourself? This step-by-step guide demystifies the process of how to install recessed lighting, giving you the knowledge and confidence to brighten up your home. With practical advice on everything from planning to the actual setup, you’ll find all you need to proceed here—no fluff, just the essentials. Begin your journey to a beautifully lit home right now.

Key Takeaways

  • Recessed lighting is a versatile and stylish option that can enhance the ambiance and energy efficiency of your home, with different trims available to suit various lighting needs and personal preferences.

  • Proper planning and safety considerations, such as choosing the right light type and observing circuit capacity, are crucial before installing recessed lighting, as is understanding local building codes and obtaining the necessary permits.

  • While DIY recessed lighting installation is doable, it requires strict adherence to safety protocols and careful testing; for guaranteed success and adherence to standards, it is often best to engage professional services.

Shining a Light on Canned Lighting: An Introduction

Recessed lighting, also known as can lighting, is a chic and sophisticated lighting solution that integrates seamlessly into your ceiling space. This low-profile design is perfect for areas with low ceilings, such as basements, creating the illusion of more space while maintaining a sleek look. Among the various options available, most recessed lights offer a versatile and stylish choice for homeowners, with recessed lighting costs being an important factor to consider.

Disclaimer: While this guide provides an overview of the recessed lighting installation process, electrical work can be complex and dangerous. We strongly recommend contacting a licensed professional to perform any electrical installations to ensure safety and compliance with all local building codes and regulations.

This versatile feature blends with any decor, reducing the need for constant updates with changing styles. With trim options varying, recessed lighting caters to a range of lighting requirements and personal tastes. In Arizona’s sunny climate, it provides efficient illumination that complements natural light patterns, improving ambiance and energy efficiency.

Planning Your Recessed Lighting Project

Before you start the installation of your recessed lighting, thorough planning is necessary. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Choose the right type of recessed light, such as baffle trim for a wide beam or eyeball trim to focus lighting.

  2. Consider safety by using IC-rated housings if insulation is nearby.

  3. Select LED-compatible kits for energy efficiency.

When planning the layout, aim for an evenly lit room without shadows. Start with a central light source and space additional lights evenly around it. Use a formula to determine the correct spacing from the walls to prevent a cramped appearance and low ceiling perception.

Moreover, it's crucial to assess the wattage capacity of your existing circuit to determine the safe number of new lights that can be installed without risking an overload and compromising safety and performance.

Gathering Your Tools and Materials

Gathering the appropriate tools and materials is a critical step before plunging into your project. This includes determining whether your home lighting circuit is 15 or 20 amps to select the appropriate gauge wire: 12 gauge for 20 amp circuits and 14 gauge for 15 amp circuits.

Keep in mind that circuits should be loaded to no more than 80% capacity; a 15 amp circuit can handle up to 13 amps, and a 20 amp circuit up to 16 amps. Make sure the electrical fixtures and total wattage do not exceed the limit of the circuit, with a 15 amp, 110 volt circuit accommodating up to 1430 watts. To ensure safety and proper functioning, it’s essential to have a well-organized circuit breaker panel.

Always account for the correct gauge wire, circuit capacity, and total wattage of the fixtures to ensure a successful installation.

Understanding and Obtaining Permits

Safety should always be a priority when undertaking home improvement projects. In Arizona, homeowners must comply with local building codes and regulations when installing recessed lighting for safety and legality. To apply for a construction permit, you must:

  1. Visit your local Building Department

  2. Complete an application

  3. Submit the required construction documents, which vary based on the project size and complexity.

Permit fees in Arizona are calculated based on the project’s scope and complexity, and can be calculated using the fee schedules provided by the local Building Department. Once the application and fees are submitted, the permit is issued in your name, allowing for official inspections to ensure the installation is up to code.

The Installation Process

The heart of the project lies in the installation process. This involves marking and cutting the ceiling hole, wiring the lights, and securing the fixtures with a ceiling hole push.

Let’s dive into each of these steps.

Marking and Cutting Ceiling Holes

Before you make the first cut into your existing ceiling, it’s crucial to consider the space above to determine the size and type of housing required for your lights, including whether it should be insulation-rated (IC) or suitable for a shallow ceiling.

To install recessed lighting fixtures, follow these steps:

  1. Place light templates on the ceiling and mark the positions to ensure proper placement and spacing.

  2. Use a drill to create holes at the marked points.

  3. Cut out the ceiling drywall with the appropriate tool to fit the size of the recessed lighting fixtures.

Installing the first recessed light fixtures can be done either by fastening to the joists for new construction or by mounting them directly to drywall for remodels. This process is known as recessed light installation. After installation, adding a recessed light trim can enhance the overall appearance of the light fixtures.

Wiring Your Recessed Lights

The installation process heavily relies on correct wiring. It’s crucial to use the same material and gauge wiring as the existing wire to match its properties and capacity. The wiring for recessed LED lighting may be in series or parallel, with a series-parallel circuit often used for LED fixtures.

The wiring sequence for recessed lights can start from any point in the circuit, connecting to the panel after the rest of the wiring is completed. Most recessed lighting fixtures come with push-wire connectors, although wire nuts are preferred by many electricians for their reliability.

Securing the Fixtures and Adding Bulbs

After completing the wiring, the next step is to fasten the fixtures and insert the bulbs. It’s crucial that your recessed lighting fixtures are IC-rated if they will be in contact with insulation to minimize the risk of fire.

Adequate space around the recessed light canister is essential to prevent overheating issues and ensure longevity of the lights. To avoid malfunction, ensure that the wattage of the bulb matches the rating of the recessed lighting fixture.

If overheating isn’t an issue and the correct bulb wattage is used but the light still does not work, check the fixture’s limit switch. Listen for a buzzing sound or check for frequent light bulbs replacement, which may indicate a damaged light socket that needs fixing.

Prioritizing Safety During Installation

During the installation process, safety should be the top priority. Ensure that all new wiring for recessed lighting matches the gauge and material of the existing wiring and is free from damage to mitigate the risk of electric shocks or fire.

After installing the recessed lights, make sure to follow these safety precautions:

  • Properly insulate any exposed wires to prevent future electrical shocks.

  • Use protective equipment, such as safety glasses, when installing recessed lighting.

  • Have emergency supplies like a flashlight and first-aid kit readily available.

If there is an attic above the ceiling where recessed lighting is being installed, use a remodel housing or an insulation-rated IC or IC-rated housing to ensure safety.

Additional Tips for a Brilliant Install

For an impeccable installation, ensure that you evenly arrange the recessed lighting fixtures and any central lighting across the ceiling, considering both the height of the ceiling and the functional requirements of the area to achieve consistent lighting.

Consider installing dimmer switches. Not only do they allow for adjustable lighting intensity to suit various activities and moods, but they can also extend bulb life and reduce energy consumption. To step up your game, you can combine smart home technology with professionally-installed modern recessed lighting to provide advanced control and automation options.

Testing and Troubleshooting

Once the installation is complete, it’s necessary to test each recessed light to ensure they function correctly. If a light isn’t functioning, you can check for a blown bulb by removing it and looking for black or gray spots indicative of a blown bulb.

If you’re still facing issues, try swapping bulbs between fixtures to determine if the bulb or the circuit is the problem. You can also use a circuit tester to ensure a recessed light fixture is receiving power by testing the metal contacts after bulb removal.

When to Call in the Pros: Parker & Sons' Expertise

While DIY projects offer rewards, nothing beats professional expertise. Opting for professional electricians like Parker & Sons for recessed lighting installations ensures proper fitting and compliance with local electrical standards, enhancing safety and reducing the risk of electrical injury.

Professional installation by skilled companies like Parker & Sons can elevate your home's ambiance and potentially increase its market value. To experience the benefits of professional recessed lighting services and enhance your home's aesthetic and value, schedule an appointment with Parker & Sons today. Let our expertise light up your living space!


We hope this guide has illuminated the process of installing recessed lighting, offering you insights into planning, gathering the right tools and materials, understanding permits, and the installation process. We’ve also prioritized safety, shared additional tips for a brilliant install, and offered guidance on testing and troubleshooting. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always wise to call in the pros. Trust the experts at Parker & Sons to light up your home beautifully.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to install a Canlite?

Installing a Canlite costs on average $330, with costs ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the trim, bulb, and finish used. These fixtures sit flush with the ceiling surface and light up the area directly below.

How many recessed lights in a 12x12 room?

In a 12x12 room, you will generally need a minimum of three and a maximum of nine recessed lights to illuminate the space effectively. The exact number will depend on the specific layout and lighting needs of the room.

Are recessed lights easy to install?

Recessed lighting is easiest to install during new construction or major renovation, but can also be retrofitted into existing ceilings, making it a versatile option for various projects.

Do you need an electrician to install recessed lighting?

Yes, it is recommended to have a licensed electrician install recessed lighting in your home, as it needs to be hooked into your electrical system and may require extension of the existing system.

Can I install recessed lighting myself?

Yes, you can install recessed lighting yourself if there is a nearby power source. If not, it may require additional wiring or the help of an electrician.

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