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How Much Does It Cost to Install Recessed Lighting? How Is It Priced?

A collage of recessed ceiling lights.

Recessed lighting offers considerable benefits to a variety of living spaces. Choosing recessed lighting offers homeowners the opportunity to illuminate entire spaces, whether a small room or a large room with vaulted ceilings. The minimalist profile fits into nearly any design scheme. 

Some questions that you are likely to have before running out and purchasing a variety of recessed lights include, what kind of recessed lighting is right for my space? Do I need an electrician to install recessed lighting? What about existing vs new home construction?

The primary questions that many people have are about the cost of installing recessed lighting and how it is priced. 

The cost varies, based on a variety of factors. The cost of installing recessed lighting in my home is likely different than the cost of installing recessed lighting in your home. 

What is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lights on a tray ceiling with warm tones.

Recessed lighting is a popular type of lighting that is a great way to provide illumination to any room. The variety of recessed lighting options and styles allows for easy customization with any home décor.

The lights, set into the ceiling or the wall, eliminate the worry and concern about the appearance or safety of having multiple lamps or other types of mounted lights. The three primary types of recessed lighting are traditional can lights, canless LED recessed lighting, and recessed LED retrofits.  

Can lights are the light fixtures that you see installed above the ceiling, enclosed in a tubular-like “can.” It focuses the light straight downward.  

Canless recessed lighting refers to recessed lighting that does not come with housing or the canister to hold the bulbs. The canless lighting systems are thin and compact, allowing them to fit in nearly any space, including compact spaces.

The recessed lighting canless fixtures typically use LEDs. It is the most appropriate, because of canless recessed lighting not having the canister. LED canless recessed lighting stays cool for hours. 

Recessed LED retrofits utilize your existing lighting fixtures and convert them to recessed lighting with the latest LED technology. Convert incandescent lighting, florescent lighting or other types of lighting, even older recessed lighting to a more modern, energy-efficient lighting system. 

Installing a recessed LED retrofit is usually a simple process. It involves installing it into an existing housing by removing the existing bulb and the trim. Screw the LED module adapter into the socket. 

Recessed Lighting Components 

Recessed ceiling lights in the store.

The type of recessed lighting that you purchase factors into the costs. Knowing the components of recessed lighting helps homeowners to understand some aspects of how their lighting choices affect the overall cost of recessed lighting systems and installation. 

The three main components of recessed lighting include the housing, the trim style, and the lamp style, typically LEDs. The housing is the part of the light hidden above the ceiling or within a wall. Some popular types of housing include airtight housing, shallow ceiling housing and sloped ceiling housing.

The trim style gives the housing and the light a sleek, clean look. Sometimes, there are jagged or uneven edges when the installer cuts the hole for the recessed lighting. The trim covers those edges. 

The type of trim that you choose affects the overall cost of the recessed lighting. Some popular trim styles include pinhole trim, open trim and baffle trim, which is the most common type of recessed lighting trim.

Choose some other styles for a unique look. The reflector trim has a mirror interior, while the eyeball trim allows homeowners to adjust the interior lighting fixtures to customize the lighting in the living space.   

I am glad that I did not have to worry about the lamp style for the recessed lighting in my home. The reason is because modern recessed lighting is integrated LEDs. I never have to change a bulb. 

Bob Villa explains that the architecture and layout of the ceiling determines the type of housing that the recessed lighting can sit in, which is true for both a large room and a small room. Some people choose to mix housing types within a room, while others opt for consistency and simplicity, meaning that they have the same type of housing in a single room or space.

Cost to Install Recessed Lighting 

Installation of recessed ceiling lights.

Installing recessed lighting is not a DIY project, unless you are an experienced, professional electrician.

Considering the costs associated with installing is an important consideration before you make final decisions regarding the type of recessed lighting that you purchase for your home or outdoor space. 

Do not assume that specific costs stated in a blog or article from five years ago are the costs that you will pay today. Several factors, including your customization choices, supplies, labor, and service fees affect your cost. Many recessed lighting fixtures come as a complete kit, which slightly helps to reduce your cost. 

How do I figure the cost of installing recessed lighting? There is more to determining the cost besides the basic factors. Additional costs include wiring, the light type, dimmers, location, new construction vs existing construction, and the cost of required permits.

Consider the number of lights that you want or need in your space when thinking about the cost of installing recessed lighting in your living space. 

Installing recessed lighting during construction of a home is less expensive than installing it in existing construction. Save on the cost of installing recessed lighting in your new build by having it installed during construction rather than after you move in to your new home. 

How are Recessed Lighting Installation Costs Determined? 

Living room brightened by recessed lights.

First, consider the number of lights that you need in each room or area. Determine the estimated cost of each light, including the housing, trim, labor and bulb, if your recessed lighting is not LED integrated.  

Bob Villa gives examples for determining the cost of installation. Use the equation: 

Room square footage × 1.5 = Total wattage ÷ 60 (or whichever wattage preferred) = X 

1 housing + 1 trim + 1 bulb + labor = Y 

X × Y = Z 

So, if you plan to install three recessed lights that cost $300 for each light, and the materials and labor cost approximately $300, your total cost is $900. Make sure that you know the total cost for installing your recessed lighting before the electrician starts the installation process. Get a written cost ahead of time. 


What if the electrician experiences obstacles when attempting to install recessed lighting in my home?

Budget for setbacks or obstacles such as wiring issues, heat ducts or joists. Budgeting for these possibilities upfront helps you to avoid experiencing unplanned expenses. 

Why is a permit required for recessed lighting installation? 

Installing new recessed lighting alters the wiring in your home. Local code ordinances vary, so call the city building or housing inspector to learn about the process for getting the permit and its cost. 

Where can I use recessed lighting? 

Recessed lighting is commonly installed on ceilings. It is also installed into walls. Consider lighting the stairs or a pathway with recessed lighting. It adds value to your home, allows for versatility and creates the illusion of a larger space.