How Much Does It Cost to Install Recessed Lighting?

Average range: $800 - $2,000
Low
$550
Average Cost
$1,650
High
$3,000
(6 lights with a gimbal trim, installed in an existing ceiling)

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Reviewed by Elias Vela, electrical services specialist. Written by Fixr.com.

Recessed lighting is ambient or general lighting in kitchens, living rooms, and family rooms. The lights are installed in cans, which are set or recessed into the ceiling. The lights are linked, so turning one switch lights the entire room. Many homes use recessed lighting because it is easy, practical, and inexpensive. Recessed lights work with different interior design styles and evenly light the room more efficiently than a single fixture.

Most people install four to six recessed lights to fill the space. The national average cost for this project is between $800 and $2,000, with most people spending around $1,650 to install six lights with a gimbal trim in an existing ceiling. At the low end, you can install two lights with a baffle trim in new construction for $550. The highest costs for this project would be installing eight lights on a slope with an eyeball trim and dimmer switch for $3,000.

Recessed Lighting Costs

Recessed Lighting Installation Costs
National average cost$1,650
Average range$800-$2,000
Low-end$550
High-end$3,000

Recessed Lighting Installation Cost by Project Range

Low
$550
2 lights with a baffle trim, installed in new construction
Average Cost
$1,650
6 lights with a gimbal trim, installed in an existing ceiling
High
$3,000
8 lights on a slope with an eyeball trim and dimmer switch, installed in an existing ceiling

What Is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting 1 is a unique type of lighting. These fixtures are installed directly into any surface, including ceilings, walls, or countertops. The fixtures have three main components that include the housing, trim, and bulb. The majority of the fixture is the housing. This component contains all the electrical aspects of the fixture and is placed directly in the ceiling or wall. The trim is the visible part of the fixture, while the bulb is what creates the light.

This type of lighting has many benefits. They make small rooms look and feel bigger. They are also useful if you want to highlight a specific feature of your room. For instance, many homeowners may choose to make a bookshelf, piece of art, or a fireplace a focal point of the room by using recessed lighting to cast the perfect amount of light.

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Recessed Lighting Cost by Type of Housing

Not all recessed lights are the same. The ones in your home are dictated by your ceiling’s architecture, what is above it, and whether this is new construction or a remodel. The lamp sits inside a housing or can, so these lights are often described by “the can.” This housing differs based on many circumstances, such as how much space there is in the ceiling, how much insulation there is, and whether the ceiling has space or not. These factors influence your installation’s cost and the type of light you can use, as well as the recessed lighting cost per light. Some homes need multiple specifications. For example, you might need an airtight IC-Rated can for a remodel or a vaulted ceiling IC-Rated can for new construction. For this reason, there is a wide overlap in total costs per can.

Cost per Fixture of Recessed Lighting by Type of Housing: IC-Rated, Airtight, Shallow, Canless, Vaulted Ceiling, Wet-Rated, New Construction...

Cost per Fixture of Recessed Lighting by Type of Housing: IC-Rated, Airtight, Shallow, Canless, Vaulted Ceiling, Wet-Rated, New Construction...

Type of HousingAverage Cost per Light (Materials Only)
IC-Rated$10 - $110
Airtight$10 - $130
Non-IC-Rated$10 - $150
Shallow$10 - $150
Canless$15 - $130
Remodel$15 - $160
Vaulted Ceiling$20 - $75
Wet Rated$20 - $100
New Construction$20 - $100

IC Recessed Lighting

All recessed lights come in one of two ratings, IC-Rated or Non-IC Rated. An IC-Rated light can be installed in a ceiling with insulation touching it and costs between $10 and $110. Recessed light cans get hot, and some insulations are prone to melting, warping, and excising VOCs when they get warm. Other types of insulation may become flammable with enough heat. Choose an IC-Rated can if you have insulation or plan to add insulation in your ceiling.

Airtight Recessed Light

Airtight recessed light cans range from $10 to $130 a can, depending on the size and other features. This type of light creates a tight seal around the can and stops airflow from the floor above to the floor below. In some instances, this helps with energy efficiency. You do not necessarily want the air you heat and cool in one room to flow into another. This is particularly true if you have different zones between floors. For example, you may have one zone shut off or drop a can from an unfinished attic to the space below. However, if you have a wood or pellet stove, an airtight light is not desirable because you want air to flow between floors.

Non-IC-Rated Can Lights

Non-IC-Rated cans range from $10 to $150 each on average and can be installed in ceilings with little to no insulation. Some ceilings have insulation but do not fill the entire cavity. You can install a Non-IC-Rated can if you have no insulation 3 inches away from the can. These lights may impact any insulation they contact. This may cause smoke, melting insulation, high levels of VOCs released into the air, and other harmful effects. Only choose this can if you have no insulation and do not plan to add any in the future. Otherwise, an IC-Rated can is best.

Shallow Recessed Lighting

Shallow recessed lighting costs between $10 and $150 a can. Ceilings can be framed in many depths. In some homes, particularly older homes where no space was left for insulation, there may only be 2 inches between the joists. These ceilings cannot hold standard recessed lighting cans because they are often 5 or 6 inches deep. A shallow model is the right size to fit into a ceiling as shallow as 2-inches deep. This is good for many older homes that were built before this type of lighting was an option.

Canless Recessed Lighting

Canless recessed lighting costs between $15 and $130 per fixture. This type of recessed lighting is essentially an LED disk. These single units are installed directly into the ceiling and directly connected to the electrical wiring system. They are typically smaller than traditional options. They are designed to sit flush with your ceiling and are more energy-efficient than traditional light bulbs.

Recessed Lighting in an Existing Ceiling

Depending on the models you choose, remodeling cans cost between $15 and $160 per unit. Installing recessed lighting in an existing ceiling varies depending on the ceiling type and accessibility. If it is a full crawl space or attic above the ceiling, it will be easier to install than a ceiling between floors with little room to maneuver. If you are remodeling, you need to choose the right cans specifically designed for existing ceilings. An electrician will be able to advise you on the best remodel cans to fit your project. There are many kinds of remodeling cans. They can be shallow or designed for installation in areas that are sloped, against insulation, or where there is no insulation.

Vaulted Ceiling Recessed Lighting

Vaulted recessed lighting cans cost between $20 and $75 each, depending on the type. These cans work best on ceilings that are not flat. Vaulted 2 ceilings have dramatic slopes up to a final peak. You may want to install your lights on those slopes rather than opting for a single hanging light from the center. However, a standard can is not designed to install on a sloped ceiling. They cannot install properly because the can needs to conform to the slope. That is why sloped cans or cans designed for vaulted ceilings exist. They are made to install at an angle and anchor inside the ceiling at any angle so that you can enjoy recessed lighting anywhere in the room.

Wet-Rated Recessed Light

Wet-rated lights tend to be more expensive and cost between $20 and $100. Recessed lighting works well in any room in the home or outdoor living areas. However, having wet-rated lights is important to provide safe lighting in wet or damp areas. These areas may include the bathroom, the shower, outdoor saunas, patios, gazebos, or any other living area where you have to worry about excess moisture. They are available in LED, dimmable, fluorescent, or halogen varieties. In addition, they take up less space than traditional lighting options and add a touch of modern to any living space.

New Construction Recessed Lighting Cost

Lights for new construction cost between $20 and $100, depending on the features and size. These housings are installed when the house is built. Because the framing can be changed when choosing the lights and the insulation is not installed yet, you have more flexibility to plan your lights. For that reason, you will not find as many options in new construction cans for shallow or Non-IC-Rated because you can plan for the entire installation. This includes the lights, the frame, how much space it has, whether it is airtight or not, and where the insulation goes. You do not need as many options as in a remodel, where things are harder to change.

Recessed Lighting Price by Type of Trim

The trim is the portion of the light that you see. This is a rim extending outward from the light’s edge to the ceiling. It seals in the light and covers up the hole’s edge in the ceiling. Trim comes in different finishes to match your decor, although the most common is a white finish that blends with most ceilings. You can also find trim with different shapes or textures to give your lights a distinctive look:

Recessed Lighting Price per Light by Type of Trim: Baffle, Open, Reflector, Wall Wash, Eyeball, Pinhole, Gimbal...

Recessed Lighting Price per Light by Type of Trim: Baffle, Open, Reflector, Wall Wash, Eyeball, Pinhole, Gimbal...

Type of TrimAverage Cost (Material Only)
Baffle$5 - $80
Open$5 - $80
Slot Aperture$10 - $50
Shower$10 - $50
Reflector$10 - $60
Surface-Adjustable$10 - $60
Wall Wash$10 - $100
Eyeball$15 - $30
Pinhole$15 - $80
Gimbal$15 - $90
Lensed$15 - $150
Decorative$15 - $150

Baffle Trim Recessed Lighting

Baffle trim recessed lights cost between $5 and $80 apiece. This trim is the most common type of light with a ribbed interior. It casts a wide, full beam of light around the room. Baffle trims come in a full range of finishes, so you can make them blend in or stand out from the rest of your ceiling and decor. This is good for simple, recessed lights that are not positionable or changeable. The ribbed interior adds a subtle texture giving the light dimension. The plain collar creates a subtle and quiet appearance.

Open Trim Recessed Lighting

Expect to pay between $5 and $80 if investing in open trim recessed lighting. While the baffle trim has a collar sitting on the ceiling’s top, the open trim sits flush. The trim’s collar extends to the ceiling rather than over it. This means that the light’s hole needs to be larger. It also means that the trim and light need to fit perfectly to avoid any gaps. This light’s benefit is that there is no chance of a shadow cast on the ceiling outside the collar.

Slot Aperture Recessed Lighting

Slot aperture trim costs between $10 and $50 each. It allows control of the light. While an eyeball trim has the light rounding outward and down from the trim so that the entire light is visible and the trim over it maneuverable, the slot aperture is flat. Rather than a hole, like a pinhole trim, the slot aperture has a narrow opening that is longer than it is wide. This is positionable and can create a range of effects, including spotlights and wall washes. Slot aperture is versatile but subtle. However, it does not give as big of a concentrated spot as the pinhole or eyeball trims.

Shower Trim

Expect to pay $10 to $50 apiece for shower trim. Shower trim is a subtype of lensed trims. Shower trim is always water-resistant so that you can install these lights in wet areas like showers. Like all lensed trims, the shower trim has a range of lens styles. All are tempered glass for safety. Some are textured or frosted to diffuse the light, while others are clear.

Reflector Trim Recessed Lighting

Costing between $10 and $60 each, the reflector trim is very similar to the exterior’s baffle. It has a subtle collar that sits on top of the ceiling rather than flush with the ceiling. However, the interior is highly polished and reflective instead of a ribbed interior. The collar and reflective interior come in many finishes so that you can determine how much you want it to stand out from the ceiling. This trim is non-positionable, so it casts a wide light around the entire room. This is a good choice if you want something more eye-catching than a baffle but not decorative.

Surface-Adjustable Trim

Surface-adjustable trims, also called elbow or scoop trims, cost between $10 and $60 apiece and can also change the light’s direction. However, rather than rotating in their casing, the surface adjustable trim pulls down from the collar. It can extend to a 70-degree tilt and rotate 359 degrees. It is mostly used for spotlights or illuminating specific areas. When flat, they can operate as a standard recessed light. When tilted, they cast light onto a wall or across a room.

Recessed Wall Washer

If investing in wall washer trims, expect to pay around $10 to $100 each for dedicated wall washer trims. Wash trims cover approximately half of the light. This allows the remaining light to be directed specifically at one spot, such as a painting. Many trims can operate as a washer, including slot aperture and gimbal. They can also be fixed wall washers, meaning they are not adjustable and point in one direction. This is good if you do not expect to move things around and want constant illumination in one area.

Recessed Eyeball Light

Eyeball trim ranges from $15 to $30 and is another good way to create a spotlight. Unlike the pinhole trim, the eyeball trim moves around, making it a good choice for galleries and areas where the focus of the room may change. The eyeball rotates to move the light, and you can cover portions of it to change the spotlight. This is one of the most versatile recessed lights.

Pinhole Recessed Lighting

Pinhole recessed lights range from $15 to $80 apiece. These lights have many uses. They can illuminate the entire room or create a spotlight on an object or area. If you have a layout that will not change and want to spotlight an area, a pinhole light can do the job. Pinhole trims narrow the light coming from the fixture. This makes a spotlight directly below the light, allowing you to place artwork or items directly in the light.

Recessed Gimbal Light

Gimbal trims cost between $15 and $90 and are functionally similar to eyeball lights. The bulb is fully positionable so that you can aim it anywhere. The trim’s collar can block some of the light, creating a wall wash. The difference between the gimbal and the eyeball comes from its appearance. Gimbals have a flat bulb casing, while the eyeball is round. This makes the gimbal more contemporary.

Lensed Trim

Lensed trim recessed lights cost between $15 and $150 each, depending on the finish and lens style. This style has a collar going around the light’s edge and a glass lens covering the light. This lens can be waterproof, which is called a shower trim, or purely decorative. The lens can be textured, frosted, or clear. It can completely seal the light and make it airtight, or it can be open. Using a lens trim makes the light more diffuse. This makes it a good choice for areas where you want to soften the light rather than brighten the area below.

Decorative Trim

The prices for decorative trim lights range from $15 to $150 each, depending on the style. There are many types of decorative trim for recessed lights. Decorative trim can be simple or extremely elaborate, depending on the manufacturer and style. Many are designed to look like elaborate plasterwork or decorative moldings found on tray or coffered ceilings. Or they can be sleeker with geometric designs. If you want to call attention to your lights or want them to work better with a historic home, decorative trim is a good option. With so many options to choose from, a wide range of costs are associated with this trim.

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Average Cost of Recessed Lighting by Trim Finish

While many recessed lights have white trim that blends with most ceilings, you can find them in a wide range of other finishes. Using a different-colored trim can make the lights stand out. They can also match other finishes and colors in the room. In some instances, the trim’s color impacts the light’s output. While polished chrome may amplify light, very dark matte finishes may absorb it. Trim colors impact your trim’s cost, with white being the least expensive.

Cost per Light of a White, Gold, Clear, Satin Nickel, Copper, Black, and Bronze Trim for Recessed Lighting

Cost per Light of a White, Gold, Clear, Satin Nickel, Copper, Black, and Bronze Trim for Recessed Lighting

FinishAverage Cost per Light (Materials Only)
White$10 - $25
Gold$10 - $45
Clear (Chrome)$15 - $90
Satin Nickel$15 - $80
Copper$25 - $60
Black$25 - $80
Bronze$30 - $60

White Recessed Light Trim

A white trim is the most common finish available and costs between $10 and $25. The shade of white varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so purchase all your trims from one source. Mixing sources, particularly when close together, could result in subtle color differences across the ceiling. White is the best choice if you do not want your light to stand out. White trims can be decorative but are usually flat or plain.

Gold Recessed Light Trim

Gold-colored trim costs between $10 and $45 each and has a wide range of shades and finishes. Gold can be highly polished and reflective or satin and softer. Gold trim can have a gold collar, which stands out against the ceiling. If you have a reflective trim, the interior would be gold, changing the light’s color. Because gold ranges from a silver tone to a pink tone, purchase your gold trims at one time from one manufacturer so that they match.

Chrome Recessed Light Trim

Chrome recessed lights range from $15 to $90 each. Chrome is one of the most common metal finishes in the U.S. Chromium is one of the only regulated metal finishes, so it always appears the same, regardless of the manufacturer. Chrome is usually polished and can be highly reflective. It has a slightly cool undertone to it, which works well in contemporary settings. A reflective light with a chrome interior is very bright, reflective, and eye-catching.

Nickel Can Light Trim

Nickel trims cost between $15 and $80 each. Nickel is a much warmer looking metal than chrome. A small amount of copper in the metal’s makeup gives it a warm glow, making it a very popular metal finish. Nickel can be highly polished and reflective, satin, or brushed. Polished nickel usually matches from brand to brand, but satin and brushed nickels are typically proprietary to each brand. If you choose a satin or brushed nickel, purchase all your trim at once from one manufacturer to ensure they match.

Copper Recessed Light Trim

Copper trims range between $25 and $60. It is a warm-colored metal that makes a statement anywhere in your home. Copper is a living finish. Polished copper can darken and dull over time unless it is consistently cared for and polished. Copper ranges from very bright to a dull dark brown, depending on the age. Reflective copper finishes warm up and brighten the room’s light.

Black Recessed Light Trim

If you decide to invest in black-recessed light trim, you can expect to spend $25 to $80 each. If you want your light trim to stand out, consider a black trim. Black trims can be reflective or matte, changing how they look. Reflective black trim is very eye-catching, while a matte black trim is subtle, potentially dimming the amount of light. Black trims can be very contemporary, particularly on a white ceiling. But they do not necessarily work in every interior design.

Bronze Recessed Light Trim

Bronze trim costs between $30 and $60 each and provide a rich, warm metal finish derived in part from copper. Bronze can be “natural” or “oil-rubbed,” which is nearly black. Because every manufacturer may have its own shade of bronze, it can be difficult to match your bronze light trims to other bronze in the room. They do not need to be a perfect match because the lights are not necessarily touching the other bronze fixtures. But make sure they are in the same color family for the best design. Bronze can be traditional or contemporary, depending on the trim’s style.

Canned Lighting Cost by Type of Bulb

Nearly all recessed lights accommodate a wide range of bulbs. Others are designed to accept a single type of bulb, such as fluorescent or low-voltage. Each has attributes that could influence your decision. LED and CFL bulbs are the most commonly used today, lasting the longest and providing the most options.

Cost per Bulb of Fluorescent, Halogen, CFL, Low-Voltage, Incandescent, and LED Bulbs for Recessed Lighting

Cost per Bulb of Fluorescent, Halogen, CFL, Low-Voltage, Incandescent, and LED Bulbs for Recessed Lighting

Type of BulbAverage Cost per Bulb (Materials Only)
Fluorescent$2 - $15
Halogen$3 - $12
CFL$5 - $15
Low-Voltage$5 - $15
Incandescent$3 - $40
LED$5 - $50

Fluorescent Recessed Light

Fluorescent lights cost between $2 and $15 per bulb. They use compressed mercury vapor to produce light. The light ranges in brightness and color, depending on your fixture’s needs. Some lights only work with fluorescent light bulbs, but most lights can handle any bulb. These lights are long-lasting and give you a steady light output for several years. They cannot be thrown in the trash because they contain mercury.

Halogen Recessed Light

Halogen lights cost between $3 and $12 per bulb and are a subtype of incandescent. They use a filament, but they are also filled with halogen gas. This gas burns brighter and longer than standard incandescent bulbs. This makes them a good choice for areas where you need bright light. Because of the halogen inside, they cannot be disposed of like other lights and must be recycled at an appropriate location.

CFL Recessed Light Bulbs

CFLs are compact fluorescent lights and cost between $3 and $15 per bulb. They also contain mercury and resemble fluorescent light bulbs. The only difference is that these lights are smaller while still emitting plenty of light. This is good if you have smaller lights but want to maximize their output and brightness. CFLs are very energy-efficient and long-lasting, making them a good choice. They cannot be disposed of in the trash because of their mercury content and must be recycled with the proper sources.

Low-Voltage Recessed Light

Low-voltage bulbs tend to be more expensive and can cost between $5 and $15 per bulb. Many types of bulbs fall into the low-voltage category. These are bulbs that use less wattage or electricity to produce a high amount of lumens or brightness. The most common type of low-voltage light bulb is LED. Some types of CFLs can also be low-voltage. You need to check and see if the bulbs are low-voltage. Some recessed cans can be wired for low voltage, which means they need specific low-voltage bulbs. Others can also use low-voltage bulbs.

Incandescent Can Lights

Incandescent lights cost between $3 and $40 per bulb. However, they are becoming much less common today and are no longer sold or allowed in many areas. They use a filament that glows when electricity passes through it to produce light. They are not very efficient and burn out easily. They come in a range of colors and lumens or brightness. If you have a regular recessed light that used incandescent bulbs in the past, it can usually handle any other type of bulb with the correct wattage.

LED Recessed Light Bulbs

LEDs are the most common type of recessed light bulb, and they cost between $5 and $50. LED lights or light-emitting diodes are semiconductors. When a current passes through them continuously, they glow. LED lights have grown tremendously in popularity in recent years. By coating the light bulb with different colors, they can produce both warm and cool-colored light. They can also produce true daylight-colored light, which is beneficial for dark spaces. LED lights are very energy-efficient. They last much longer than incandescent. Nearly any recessed light can use LED bulbs.

Average Labor Cost to Install Recessed Lighting

The labor and installation of your recessed lights may change slightly, depending on whether you are installing them in a new construction or an existing ceiling. Most electricians charge $40 to $120 an hour for low-cost jobs. It takes roughly ½ to 1 hour per can, depending on whether or not wiring needs to be done. In new constructions, it may cost from $100 to $200 to install one can, not including the cost of the fixture. However, if you have more than a single recessed light installed, electricians often offer a package discount to bring down the price. Installing recessed lighting in a new construction is easier than installing it in an existing ceiling.

It is easier for electricians to install recessed lights in new constructions because they have open walls without drywall. Since no drywall blocks access to the joists, electricians can run wiring quicker than in existing ceilings. Placing recessed lights in existing ceilings is cheaper, as long as there is existing wiring. If no rewiring is required, you may spend between $200 and $350. You might need to include other costs, such as drywall replacement and repainting, adding from $250 to $350 to the final costs. If your electrician has to run new wire to install your lights, they will have to make a few holes in your ceiling’s drywall. Repairing holes in your drywall can cost $60 to $200, depending on the size of the hole.

Once your drywall is repaired or replaced, you will also need to repaint that section of your room. You may also choose to repaint the entire room. It will cost you around $1,200 to paint the walls of one room.

Cost to Replace Recessed Lights

The cost to replace recessed lights varies depending on where the lights are located and how easy they are to access. Assuming you install lights of the same size that are simple to reach, the average cost ranges from about $450 to $650 for one can with a discount on additional replaced lights. This assumes you need to remove the old light, rewire the space, repair the drywall, paint, and install the new recessed lighting. Some electricians may offer a lower price if you are having several cans replaced at the same time.

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Cost to Install Can Lights by Location

Recessed lighting can be installed in different rooms of the house. The two biggest factors that determine the cost of installing recessed lighting in these locations are whether or not there is existing wiring in place and the size of the room. Most electricians recommend placing a recessed light fixture every four to six feet. Larger rooms require more fixtures, resulting in the project costing more money.

When talking about the cost to install one single recessed light fixture, the costs will be very similar in all the locations. However, some rooms may have features that will make the project slightly cheaper or more expensive.

Cost to Install a Recessed Light Fixture in the Living Room, Kitchen, Basement, Closet, Bathroom, or Bedroom of a New Construction or an Existing Building

Cost to Install a Recessed Light Fixture in the Living Room, Kitchen, Basement, Closet, Bathroom, or Bedroom of a New Construction or an Existing Building

LocationCost per Fixture in New Construction (Installed)Cost per Fixture in Existing Building (Installed)
Living Room$200 - $300$450 - $650
Kitchen$200 - $300$450 - $650
Basement$200 - $300$450 - $650
Closet$250 - $350$500 - $700
Bathroom$275 - $375$525 - $725
Bedroom$275 - $375$525 - $725

Cost to Install Recessed Lighting in Living Room

Installing recessed lighting in your living room costs about $200 to $300 in a new construction or $450 to $650 in an existing home for each can. It is an excellent way to brighten up the room and make the space feel more modern. Recessed lighting in this room adds depth to the space, creates light for artwork to make a focal point, and makes the room more elegant. Wall-washer recessed lights work well for artwork, while general room lighting works well with halogen flood bulbs.

Cost to Install Recessed Lighting in Kitchen

Recessed lighting is a common addition to most kitchen designs, with installation costs of $200 to $300 for new constructions and $450 to $650 for other homes per can. Kitchens do well with recessed lighting that works with other lighting options, such as pendant lights, chandeliers, tube lights, and under-cabinet lights. If there is insulation above the ceiling, IC housings should be used. Otherwise, non-IC housings are acceptable. Simple baffle or open recessed lighting works well here, but you can upgrade to something more decorative if you prefer.

Recessed Lighting in Basement Ceiling

Many basements have low ceilings and benefit from recessed lighting, ranging from about $200 to $300 for new constructions per can and $450 to $650 for an existing home. A common choice for this part of the home is an LED recessed ceiling light that works with pendant fixtures. LED is recommended because it can light up a large space without using a substantial amount of energy. Baffle, open, and pinhole styles will all fit right in with the typical basement aesthetic.

Closet Recessed Lighting

Expect to pay $250 to $350 for recessed closet lights in a new construction or $450 to $650 for existing homes that require drywall repair and painting. While many rooms require several lights, most closets need only one to two cans. In addition, the appearance of the lights is usually not as big of a concern to light a closet. As such, you can use a simple baffle or open style recessed light with an LED or fluorescent bulb.

Bathroom Recessed Lighting

Adding a recessed light to the bathroom ranges from $275 to $375 for a new home or $525 to $725 if the home is complete and inhabited. The most important reason the cost is higher for bathroom lighting than other rooms is that wet-rated lights are required due to the large amount of moisture found in the space. LED, halogen, fluorescent, and dimmable lights can all be used depending on your preferences. Trim ranges from baffle to decorative depending on budget and style.

Bedroom Recessed Lighting

When adding a recessed can to your bedroom, the cost will be between $275 and $375 for a new home or $525 to $725 when replacing existing lighting in a room. Recessed lighting is a great solution since it provides functional light and a relaxing, romantic aesthetic. Consider adding recessed lights over the headboard with baffle trim to highlight it and lensed trim for other areas. It offers a diffused light that hits the spot in the space where you go to get some sleep.

Wiring for Recessed Lights

Most houses are wired with aluminum or copper wire. Aluminum is less expensive than copper, so many newer homes may have this wiring. But the age and the electrician’s preferences factor in which one your home may have. When planning on a recessed light addition, ensure that the lights and wires are compatible with your home. For this reason, you need to match the type of wire and gauge. If your wire is old or fabric-insulated, your electrician may need to replace some wiring before installing your new lights. The cost of rewiring a home is between $4,000 and $10,000.

While your electrician may dictate the type of wire used, keep in mind that aluminum is roughly half the cost of copper in most installations.

Cost per Linear Foot of Aluminum and Copper Wiring for Recessed Lighting

Wiring MaterialCost per Linear Foot (Materials Only)
Aluminum$0.26 - $0.59
Copper$0.52 - $1.25

Outdoor Pot Light Installation Cost

To add recessed lighting outdoors, you can expect to pay anywhere from $305 to $550 per can. However, recessed lights require a ceiling function, so they are not a very common type of outdoor lighting. They can be installed on a porch ceiling or beneath an overhang on the front steps instead of sconces. Outdoor pot lights are also often installed around the top of a home or sides of windows. Installation of recessed lighting outdoors is similar, but the project typically involves fewer lights than large indoor spaces, with two to four being the most common. Wet-rated recessed lighting is the best option for outdoor spaces since the weather can create moisture that may reach the lights.

Smart Recessed Lighting Prices

Smart recessed lights cost more than standard ones at around $15 to $75 each, but they have the same installation costs. These recessed lights can be controlled wirelessly through a smartphone, voice control, or remote control. It is recommended to wire them to the wall even if you have a wireless option. This gives you a backup if the other options fail, you lose the remote, or you have a guest who does not have access to the lights.

Some smart lights offer color-changing features, allowing you to change the mood of a room using either your smartphone, Alexa, or Google home. These lights also offer convenience and cost savings over time since you can have your lights turn on at certain times and shut off at other times. Many of these lights are voice-activated to make them simple to use.

Calculating Load

Every home has a total amount of amps or electrical power it can supply. Your appliances, lights, and accessories all use some of that power. Before adding recessed lights to a room, determine how many amps are on the line and how many amps each recessed light uses. The rule of thumb is to keep below 80% of the amps on the line. So if you have 100 amps on the line you are using, then the total amount your recessed lights can use is 80. Have your electrician determine how many amps you have available, then check for the wattage on each can to determine how many you can install.

Beautiful Living Room Area With Recessed Lighting Installed

Colors of Can Lights

Most people are accustomed to the warm color of incandescent lights. But today, most lights are available in many colors and tones, ranging from warm yellow to bright white, usually with no cost difference. Because recessed lights provide ambient or general light, your bulbs’ color dictates the room’s color tone. Beyond white, warm, and bright tones, can lights also come in more colorful options. Some recessed lights are color-changing, so you can choose hues like red, blue, green, and more.

“Warm” lights are a popular option for kitchens and bathrooms due to their slightly golden glow or tone. Often, this hue of light is more muted, allowing for a more peaceful atmosphere. Soft white lights, on the other hand, are yellowish and warm, similar to what you expect from an incandescent bulb. This light is cozy and comfortable, making it an excellent choice for dens, living rooms, and bedrooms.

Bright white has a tone between white and blue that makes you feel more energetic and inspired. It is often used in areas where work is being done, such as garages, home offices, and kitchens. It looks especially tasteful with chrome fixtures. Daylight has an even greater blue tone and works well in reading nooks, working areas, and places you apply makeup.

For those who want to switch up the light tone or go for more unusual colors, smart recessed lights are available. These allow you to change the way the light looks anytime you like so it fits with your activities. For instance, you could turn the light to daylight to read a book and move it to a warm white before you go to bed.

Recessed Lighting Sizes

Even the brightest recessed lights will not illuminate your room if they are spaced improperly. The standard rule for placing the lights is dictated by the lights’ size. Recessed lights come in three basic sizes: 4-, 5-, and 6-inch. Four-inch lights are installed a minimum of 4 feet apart from each other across the ceiling. Five-inch lights are installed a minimum of 5 feet apart. Six-inch lights are installed at a minimum of 6 feet. Some brands also make lights at 7-inch and 10-inch diameters, but these are much less common and should be reserved for large spaces. These should all be placed about 12 to 18 inches in from the walls and spread evenly across the ceiling to achieve the best illumination.

Talk to local pros to get quotes for your recessed lighting installation project

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Dimmer Switch

Because recessed lights are ambient, you can install a dimmer switch at the same time. Most recessed lights are dimmer-compatible, with the switch costing around $100 to $200 for a three-way light. To use dimmer switches, you must also invest in dimmer bulbs. Most recessed bulbs can be used on a dimmer for no additional cost. Check the box label to be sure.

Wall Panel

If you do not currently have a wall panel in the room, add one to control the lights more easily. Wall panels come in many sizes and can include dimmer switches and standard switches. You can also upgrade an existing panel to add the recessed lights if needed. Adding a wall panel is around $50 to $100, depending on how many switches are wired.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • DIY. Do not tackle this as a DIY project, except by those with extensive electrical experience. Rewiring any part of your home can lead to severe electrical burns and potential fires if done incorrectly. To protect the safety of your family, yourself, and your home, hire an electrician to install recessed lighting.
  • Permits. In most areas, permits are required before installing recessed lights or any other major electrical changes. Check with your town or city hall before starting.
  • Inspection. In every case, have your ceiling inspected by a licensed electrician before purchasing lights. Your electrician can measure the available space and decide how to do the project. In an attic or new construction installation, they will likely work from above. Between floors, they will likely work from below, cutting into the ceiling and running wires below the floor, disturbing the area above. They will also let you know which light types are needed so that you can purchase accordingly.
  • Accent lighting. Recessed lighting is a great way to highlight specific design features of any room. Whether there is a bookshelf, a piece of art, or another object you want to draw attention to, recessed lighting naturally highlights the object using a soft glow.

FAQs

  • How many recessed lights do I need?

The number of recessed lights you need depends on the size of the room. Most experts recommend one fixture for every four to six sq.ft. of ceiling space. However, this number varies depending on the layout of the room.

  • How to change a recessed light bulb?

The most important step of changing a recessed light bulb is making sure the bulb is cool before you touch it. To get enough torque to twist the lightbulb out of the socket, you need to create a loop out of duct tape. Tear off about a foot of duct tape and create a loop with the sticky side out. Stick the loop onto the light bulb and twist counterclockwise until it is unscrewed, and you can remove it. Remove the tape from the old bulb, and stick it onto the new bulb. Once the tape loop is attached to the new bulb, line it up with the socket and twist clockwise until it is firmly in place.

  • Does recessed lighting add value to your home?

This depends on the area and your home. In general, any good lighting increases your home’s value by making it more functional. However, recessed lights do not always work in historical architecture.

  • Can a handyman install recessed lighting?

This depends on your handyman’s skill level. Some are experienced with electricity, understand the codes, submit the necessary paperwork for permits, and do the work to code, but others cannot. Speak to your handyman to find out their skill level.

  • How do you install recessed lighting in a ceiling?

Recessed lights are cans held in place above the ceiling with brackets. They are installed through a hole in the ceiling and connected to one another and the electrical circuit that powers them.

  • How much does it cost to put in downlights?

Downlight is a recessed light with an eyeball trim. It costs around $75 to $250 per light for labor and an additional $50 for the light and trim to install.

  • How much does it cost to have an electrician install a light fixture?

Electricians charge between $40 and $120 an hour, and light fixtures generally run around $165 to $195 to install.

  • Where should I put my recessed lights?

Recessed lights can be installed anywhere, but they work best in kitchens and living rooms. They should be installed 4 to 6 feet apart and 12 to 18 inches from the walls.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Recessed lighting: A type of recessed lighting where the light is installed into a hole in the ceiling, giving downward light.
2 Vaulted: A container system, which replaces traditional gravel and perforated pipe drain fields in newer septic systems, used to remove contaminants and impurities from wastewater coming from the septic tank and discharge effluent into the soil

Cost to install recessed lighting varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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Recessed Lighting Installed in the Ceiling and Wall Next to a Double Sink
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