- Ideas & How-Tos
Choose Your Savings
Replace your existing lights with recessed lighting. Recessed lighting can highlight specific areas in a room or accentuate decorative elements. Since the lights are hidden, the ceiling lines aren't broken and your rooms feel more open and spacious.
Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.
Before you begin, think about the effect you want to achieve and how best to obtain it. Then ask yourself a few questions.
If an attic is above the ceiling, the project is pretty straightforward. You can probably use recessed light cans with standard housings and running the electrical cable is very simple. If there's another floor above, the project is more involved. Special, remodeling cans are needed and the wire has to be fished through the ceiling
Is the existing wiring aluminum or copper? Use wiring that is the same material and gauge (thickness) as the existing wire. If the existing wiring is fabric-insulated or has no ground wire, have a licensed electrician inspect it to determine if the wiring should be replaced.
You can add lights that draw as many watts as the existing fixture without overloading the circuit. If you plan to add lights that use more watts than the existing fixture, have an electrician determine what the circuit can carry.
Example: If the existing fixture uses (4) 100-watt bulbs.
4 x 100= 400 watts total capacity
You can safely install up to 400 watts of lighting on the circuit. To use more than 400 watts consult an electrician.
When working with electricity always:
Shut off the power to the circuit before you begin any work. Lock out the circuit or the panel so no one can turn the circuit on while you are working.
Identify the location for each light. Use the manufacturer's template to transfer the opening for each fixture to the ceiling. Drill a 1/4 in. hole in the ceiling at the center of the proposed opening. If the attic is above the ceiling, visually check the attic for obstructions. If a finished area is above the ceiling, use a fish tape or coat hanger to probe for obstructions.
Use an appropriate saw to make the openings for the light cans.
Disconnect the existing fixture from the power source.
Pull cable from the power source to the first recessed light. Leave about 18-in of the wire hanging from the ceiling. Continue to pull wire to each light fixture leaving 18-in of wire hanging from the ceiling. The excess wire allows enough slack to wire the new fixtures. If the attic is above the ceiling, run the wire from the attic. If the area above the ceiling is a finished floor, use a long flexible drill bit to drill through the joists and fish the wire through the framing.
Wire the first light to the power source and the cable leading to the next can. There should be three black wires together, three white wires, and three ground wires. Cap the connections with wire connectors. Continue connecting the fixtures until you reach the last one.
Mount the cans and trim pieces according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Screw in the light bulbs.
There are several things you can do in the location of the old light fixture. Here are a few options: