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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Electrical, HVAC & Energy Efficiency > Recessed Lighting

Recessed Lighting Cost

How Much Does Recessed Lighting Cost?

low costDIY: Around $30+ Eachaverage costMedium: $80-$250 +Installed
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Also called can lights, high hats or pot lights, recessed lights are fixtures designed to be installed flush with the ceiling, so the actual light fixture is tucked away, out of view. Recessed lights generally have three parts -- the housing (also called the can), the inner baffle and trim (the only visible portion after installation) and the bulb/lamp; these parts are often sold separately, so you can pick and choose. provides a basic overview[1] and illustration.

Typical costs:

  • For new construction or an extensive remodeling project where the ceiling and walls are being torn open anyway (providing easy access, open ceiling), basic recessed lights start around $20-$60 each (about $6-$40 for the housing and $8-$50 for the trim, plus the cost of bulbs), but can go as high as $75-$150 or more per light for high-end low-voltage models (which use less energy and generate less heat). With a new or torn-open ceiling, this is a relatively easy do-it-yourself project (although it does require electrical wiring skills).
  • An Oregon do-it-yourselfer[2] installed eight recessed lights in a kitchen with an open ceiling for $180.
  • Having an electrician install the lights in an open ceiling can run $50-$200 or more per light (and averages about $125-$150) depending on local rates and the relative ease of installation. Some electricians include the cost of an extremely basic fixture (housing, trim, bulb) in this price.
  • Renovations where the ceiling and walls are not already opened up require specially designed retrofit or remodeling lights (also called old construction recessed lights or cut-in cans) designed to be installed with only a small opening. Just the lights start about $25-$75 each, but can be $100-$150 or more apiece for higher-end models. Installation by an electrician runs about $100-$200 per light, but can be more if access is limited (no attic) or if there are other circumstances that make installation difficult.
Related articles: Adding an Electrical Outlet, Motion Sensor Lights, Ceiling Fan, Kitchen Remodeling

What should be included:
  • Recessed lights are extremely versatile, and can be used for unobtrusive general lighting; for lighting above a desk, sink or other work area; or to accent artwork, walls or other features. Advantages include no cords to hide or lamp shades to dust. With new construction fixtures, the metal housing has a bracket that is nailed or screwed into the ceiling joists before the ceiling is drywalled. provides a video of installing recessed lights while building a new home. With retrofit or remodeling lights, a hole is cut in the drywall the exact size of the recessed light. provides do-it-yourself instructions[3] for planning and installing recessed lighting.
  • Recessed lights can be rate as air tight, IC (which is short for insulation contact) and non-IC (which should never come into contact with ceiling insulation due to the potential fire hazard). A lighting company provides definitions [4] for various recessed light terms. Local building codes may vary considerably regarding the use of IC and Non-IC lights; check with your local planning office for specifics about your local building codes.
Shopping for recessed lighting:
  • provides guidelines[5] for choosing and placing recessed lights, depending on what you expect to do in each area.
  • Most home improvement centers sell a selection of basic recessed lighting housings and trim, but smaller, low-voltage fixtures may require a special order. Lighting showrooms will typically have a wider selection.
  • Major manufacturers include Capri Lighting[6] , Cooper Lighting (Halo)[7] , Juno Lighting, Lightolier[8] , Prescolite[9] and Progress Lighting[10] .
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