Installing Can Lights: 6 Easy Steps

By: Jan Hajek | Date Posted: March 21, 2021

It’s hard to overstate the impact artificial lighting can have on our day. Installing can lights can make a significant difference. Recent studies reveal how artificial lighting can alleviate seasonal affective disorder, regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and induce drowsiness in the evenings, among other benefits.

Let’s face it, though; most homeowners are more interested in the practical and aesthetic effects on offer, right?!

If you’re looking for lighting that creates a sleek, modern, and well-lit living space, installing can light is a great choice. Unlike other fixtures, their recessed design means they light up larger room areas, including all the nooks, crannies, and corners! Versatile and highly functional, can lights also come in a wide array of styles that help you find the best ones for your home.

The tricky part is installing them! Want some pro advice on how to do it? Keep reading to discover exactly how to install can lights in your home.

6 Easy Steps for Installing Can Lights

Step 1: Choose Your Lights

The first and most important part of this process is deciding the best lights for your home! As we mentioned, there are many different options available in terms of style and aesthetics. You have two major components to pick out in this regard:

The housing and the baffles/trim.

Light ‘housing’ is a metallic section that fits into your ceiling. The ‘baffle’ is a cover that fits over the top to create a nicer aesthetic. The ‘trim’ covers the edge of the jagged hole you cut into the ceiling to fit the housing.

Top tip: so-called ‘remodel housing’ is the best option if you can’t light from above the ceiling (e.g. if you don’t have access to the attic). You can install remodeled housing from below instead, making it a much simpler option. For this post, we’ll assume you’re installing can lighting that fits this description.

Step 2: Turn Off the Power

Turn Off the Power 1

The next crucial step to correctly install downlights is to switch off the power to this particular circuit. After all, light installation involves sawing a hole in the ceiling and fiddling around with exposed wires.

No matter how stunning your recessed lighting is going to be, it isn’t worth getting electrocuted over! Find the circuit breaker and turn off the electricity before doing anything else. Only then should you begin the actual process of installing can lights.

Step 3: Out With the Old

Housing, baffle, and trim chosen? Check.

Power supply turned off? Check.

If you’re installing brand new light fixtures instead of replacing old ones, you can skip ahead to step 4. If not, then the time has come to remove your old light fixture from the ceiling. Depending on the fixture, this might involve wiggling, jiggling, pulling, unscrewing, and/or levering it off the ceiling!

Something called the ‘junction box’ sits above it, which needs to come out too. Try hard not to damage any wires throughout this process, especially when removing the junction box. You might have to see it off the hoist, which is an obvious hazard for any wires in the vicinity.

Step 4: Saw Your Hole(s)

Grab your housing and find the circular paper template that should have come with it. You can draw around this to mark the position of the can light on the ceiling. No template?

Use the housing itself to trace the circle instead.

If you’ve done it right, you’ll end up with a perfect circle around the hole left behind by your old light fixture. You can then use a drywall saw to cut around it. Take your time to make this as neat as possible.

Top tip: for anyone installing recessed lighting from scratch (rather than replacing an old fixture), make sure you pick locations that fall a) between joists and b) away from obstacles and obstructions.

Step 5: Wire Everything Up

With the groundwork complete, you’re almost ready to install the housing. First, though, you have to wire everything up.

Begin by taking the junction box (this is the ‘meeting point’ for electrical wires), opening it up, and securing it to the wires hanging from the ceiling cavity. You’ll need to remove the insulating from each electrical cable to do this.

With the wire exposed, you can then match each wire (so the colors line up) to those on the light fixture and use twist-on connectors to fix them in position.

Step 6: Fit the Housing, Baffle, Trim, and Bulb

It’s time for a test! Restore power to the circuit for a moment. A voltage tester will reveal whether or not you’ve connected everything up correctly.

If the electricity’s flowing, then you’re good to go.

Turn the power back off, and slide the can light housing into the hole until it clicks into place. You can then attach the baffle and trim (according to the instructions on the packet) and step back to admire your work! The trim should be flush against the ceiling, the hole should be fully covered, and no wires should be exposed.

The final step is to select and install the best bulb for the job with all that done. We recommend LEDs for their higher energy efficiency. They cost more upfront, but you’ll save money on utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

Remember the Steps to Installing Can Lights

Remember the Steps 1

The type of lighting we install at home makes an almighty difference. It impacts everything from how we feel to our ability to both see and function in the space!

For anybody hunting for a modern, practical, and popular lighting solution, recessed light fixtures are ideal. However, installing can light of this nature can be tricky when you’ve never done it before! Know the struggle?

Well, with any luck, the instructions in this article will help! If you’re remodeling your property, there will be all sorts of other electrical DIY jobs to do along the way. To continue your education on this topic, browse the ‘Electrical’ section of the website now.

Thank you for reading!

Jan Hajek

I am an experienced writer. I write about home improvement topics such as construction, electrical work, plumbing, security and safety, interior design, exterior design, tools and woodworking, gardening, and garage organization. I love helping people improve their homes and make them more enjoyable places to live.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments