The advantage of recessed lights is that they come in a complete unit: the canister, junction box, socket, mounting frame, and reflector. You can purchase the trim separately and in a select choice of colors.
Before starting any type of electrical work, shut off electricity at the main box. If you are not comfortable with any part of the wiring process, hire a professional.
Recessed fixtures are available in sizes from 3-inch to 6-inch widths. You can also purchase units that will work on sloped ceilings. Bathroom installations require units that have a rating for higher humidity.
You will need these tools to install recessed lighting:
- Keyhole saw
- Drill with the driver bit
- Wire stripper
- Lineman’s pliers
- Fish tape
Probably the most difficult task on this project is running power. Power can usually be daisy-chained from the nearest source (i.e., outlet). Do not assume that you can do this until you have performed a voltmeter test, as it is important not to exceed the number of amps of the breaker for all devices on a chain/breaker.
As always with electrical modifications, check local codes, but usually 14-3G nonmetallic, the sheathed cable will work for inside walls. This 14-gauge cable will carry 15 amps. Run a cable from the source to the light junction and then routed on to the switch. Cut small holes in the walls above the power source and switch location. This will allow a path to pull the cable through using fish tape.
The installation process differs depending on whether you are installing the fixture on the first floor of a multi-story home or a ceiling directly below the attic. Different manufacturers have unique ways of mounting. It is best to purchase a lighting unit with sliding brackets that attach to joists when mounting in the attic. This provides a much more rigid mount.
For first-floor installations, locate the general areas where you wish to mount the light. Cut a small hole in the ceiling and feel around with a coathanger for obstructions. If the joists are close, then you will need to move one direction or another to clear. Mark an opening using the manufacturer-supplied template and use a keyhole saw to cut a circle – sized to fit the canister – in the ceiling.
For ceilings below the attic, drill a small hole in the desired general location and check from inside the attic for joist locations.
Put the mounting frame in place so the flange is centered over the hole. Draw the cable through the fixture hole. Make sure at this point that the area is clear of insulation or other properties that might overheat. Note that some canisters have a rating that is safe for placement near insulation.
Remove about five inches of cable sheathing and strip away an inch of insulation from the wires. Take the cover plate off the unit’s electrical box. Attach the cable to the box and connect the wires as you would a regular box.
Replace the cover plate.
Finish wiring back to the switch.
A final adjustment of the canister will have to be made to direct the light to focus on the desired location.