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Can a Handyman Install Recessed Lighting or Do You Need an Electrician?

A handyman installing recessed lights.

Yes, a handyman can install recessed lighting. However, local requirements determine whether a handyman can do certain electrical installations, including recessed lights, and it is usually not recommended.

Major electrical jobs require licensed professionals. Even if you’re an avid do-it-yourselfer and think you know all about electrical wiring and circuits, it’s probably best to hire a professional.

I love recessed lights, which are classic because of how they blend in with any space. It is crucial to plan out which lights we will use and where we’ll get them installed, before beginning a recessed lighting installation in our home.

Recessed lighting, which provides bright, even light and is fitted flush with the ceiling, is a common fixture in modern homes of various styles. These intricate lighting systems require experience and knowledge. Let’s take a brighter look at the recessed lighting and its installation. 

Can a Handyman Install Recessed Lighting or Do You Need an Electrician?

A handyman installing recessed light.

Yes, a handyman can install recessed lighting, but it’s a big risk, which is the reason that local municipalities recommend professional installation. Installing recessed lighting is a detailed process that involves major electrical work and a handyman often has basic knowledge. 

The Circuit System is Important to Consider When Installing Recessed Lights

The term “circuitry” refers to the entirety of a home’s electrical system, which normally consists of both 15-amp and 20-amp circuits for use in the kitchen, laundry room, and bedrooms, respectively.

It is possible to install multiple recessed lights on a single 15-amp circuit. Power flows in a continuous loop from the main electrical panel to the switches, outlets, and lights, and back again. The typical residential lighting cable has two “hot” (red and black) wires, one “neutral” (white) wire, and one “ground”, green, or copper wire.

Can You Install Recessed Lighting on Existing Circuits?

Recessed ceiling light installation

Recessed lighting can be installed on new or existing circuits, while the former is preferable due to its simplicity.

For most do-it-yourselfers, the simplest method of installing recessed lighting is to simply replace the pot lights already in place. 

To be on the safe side, only use 80% of the available wattage on a 15-amp circuit, even though it can technically handle up to 1,800 watts. Therefore, the total power consumption of a row of recessed ceiling lights on a circuit shouldn’t exceed roughly 1,440 watts. The package for the can lights will list their maximum wattage.

What are the Different Names for Recessed Lights? 

Different recessed ceiling lights

Can lights, spotlights, and downlights be different names for the same type of lighting fixture in which a bulb is encased in a circular enclosure (the “trim”) that is typically between four and six inches wide and is designed to reflect light down into the room?

Recessed lighting is versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes, including providing task lighting over a work surface or counter, or providing accent lighting to a previously unlit area. It’s not as easy as picking a wattage plus bulb type, though; there are a lot of other variables at play. The following are some things to think about before installing recessed lighting in your home.

How do I Plan for Recessed Lighting?

Living room with recessed ceiling lights.

The optimum lighting impact can be achieved with carefully planned recessed lighting placement at the outset. The design needs to contain the lighting layout and the lighting fixtures’ specifications. Think about whether you need general illumination, directional task lighting, decorative accent lighting, or some combination of these. 

Where in the room you want to put the recessed lights will determine what kind of lights you need. Inadequate illumination can be the result of sloppy preparation.

For instance, while planning the can-light arrangement of the main living area, homeowners may choose to make use of open-type can light with little trim that can handle flared bulbs. Using a wall wash can light to illuminate a beloved painting while blocking its illumination of surrounding walls, creating a dramatic focal point. 

Reflective lights set above a family study area in a secluded nook of the room will provide plenty of light for the kids to do their work without straining their eyes.

When is the Best Time to Install Recessed Lighting?

However, recessed lighting could be retrofitted into current ceilings and is most easily installed during construction.

Recessed lighting is placed in the ceiling and is therefore most easily done during building or remodeling before the ceiling is finished. Ceiling recessed lighting for new construction is installed between the joists using mounting brackets fastened to the strapping.

After the lights are installed and connected to the electrical system, the drywall can be installed over them (after holes have been carefully cut out). Recessed lighting can be installed with minimal drywall cutting even if you don’t have access to the ceiling joists. Seek out recessed lights that attach to the drywall with clips rather than the joists and strapping, and install them through a small hole in the ceiling.

The Importance of Recessed Lighting Positions

Recessed ceiling lights in cool tone.

While recessed lighting can be used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to general illumination, task lighting, and accent lighting, unlike floor or table lamps, you only get one chance to do it right. Take into account the specific spots where you’d like a bright light to shine, such as over a reading chair or kitchen island.

If you need to see what you’re doing while working, make sure the task light is above the desk, not where you’ll be sitting or standing. Also, keep recessed lighting fixtures at least two feet from the walls.

The size of the bulbs will also be a consideration. The standard rule of thumb is to space the lights out by the same number of feet as the diameter of the bulb in inches.

A light bulb with a 4-inch diameter requires a space of 4 feet between it and the next fixture. To illuminate standard-height rooms effectively, a 4-inch bulb is ideal, while the brighter light emitted by 5- and 6-inch bulbs are better suited to rooms with higher ceilings.

Existing circuitry: Light switches and one or more candelabra-style ceiling fixtures constitute an existing circuit. New LED recessed lights consume very little power, so you may install dozens of them in place of the above fixture like a light fixture or fan without worrying about blowing a fuse. Adding new recessed lighting to an existing circuit may necessitate cutting into the ceiling and drilling through joists to accommodate the new wiring.

If you’re building a new house or expanding on to your current one, you’ll need to run an entirely new electrical circuit before you can install recessed lighting. It is important to verify local regulations before attempting to connect a new circuit to the service panel.

Kitchen brightened by recessed lights.

Recessed lighting zones allow you to switch on only the lights you need without turning on any unnecessary above illumination.

Consider wiring the lights to operate together in strategic groups for large rooms with areas that may need to be lighted differently at times or spaces where the ambiance is needed. Ensure that each area may operate separately.

You’ll have more say over the atmosphere and functionality of a room if you equip it with a mix of general lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. For ambiance, turn off your task lights and allow your accent lighting to draw attention to your fireplace or artwork.

So think carefully about the lighting scheme you want to create before purchasing light bulbs.

Recessed Lighting FAQs

Here are answers to important questions you might have regarding recessed lighting. 

Can Recessed Lights Get Installed During Construction?

Although drywall has not yet been completed on the ceiling, recessed lighting can be installed throughout the remodeling process as well. In place of standard-sized can lights, recessed LED lights are now commonly installed by simply snapping them into the walls. It’s natural for prospective recessed lighting installers to have questions.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for Expert Recessed Lighting Installation?

According to Home Advisor, the typical cost to have an electrician install canless LED lighting in an existing ceiling is between a few hundred dollars, whereas the cost to have an electrician install can lighting is around a few hundred per fixture. The actual price of the lights is extra and varies with their style and quality.

To What Extent, and in What Kinds of Ceilings, May Recessed Lighting be Installed?

In most cases, this is correct. Installing recessed lighting requires access to the ceiling joists so that electrical wiring may be hidden there. However, to run the cables, you may need to rip away some drywall.

Can Recessed Lighting Increase a Home’s Resale Price?

The way they appear and whether or not they resolve an issue are the two most important factors. Pot Lights are a desirable feature, especially in homes with an open floor plan. This is not the case in a country home. However, you shouldn’t expect a home’s value to rise simply because you put in can lights.