Erin Doman on May 3, 2016 0 Comments Installing recessed lighting is a challenging yet rewarding home improvement project. Depending on your experience, you might be able to get the job done all by yourself, which can save you a lot of money. However, even if you already know you’re going to hire a professional, you should still have an understanding of the installation process so you know what to expect. 1. Before You Get Started If you are new to working with electricity, you’ll need to take a few preemptive steps to ensure the safety for everyone involved in your project. Whenever you are working installing a light fixture in your home, the first thing you should always do is turn off the electricity for the areas you plan to work on via the breaker box. To do this, you’ll need to find your breaker box and flip the switches connected to your selected rooms. You also need to make sure all wall switches are in the “off” position and test the wires to double check that the power is off. Installation Tip: If properly maintained, your breaker box should have every switch labeled, which will make it easy for you to identify and flip the correct switches. Oftentimes these switches haven’t been properly labeled, especially in older homes. If this is the case in your house, be sure the spend the extra time relabeling every switch. Doing so now will save you from a lot of trouble in the future. Keep in mind that electrical connections must agree with local codes, so depending on your project and local ordinances, you may need to get a permit before starting your project. Also, be sure that you do not match higher wattage bulbs to fixtures with lower wattage maximums. This can damage your lighting and potentially be a hazard. 2. Required Tools and Materials To start, you’ll need to have a recessed lighting kit, or else you’ll need the necessary individual pieces if you are looking to create a more customized look. Other than that, there are a few more materials you will need to have on hand in order to successfully install your recessed lighting: Electrical wire Electrical tape Switch Junction box Next, you will need to gather the proper tools for the installation. This project requires some specialty tools, so it is important that you locate and purchase all of these items before you take the first step of the installation process. For this project, you will be working with wires and cutting holes into walls, so you will want these items: Drywall saw Drill Hole saw (drill attachment) Assorted drill bits Wire stripper Lineman’s pliers Safety glasses Safety gloves (good for working with electrical wires and saws) Before you go to your local department store for an expensive new saw or drill, ask your friends and colleagues if they have equipment you can borrow, or else see if you can rent tools for the weekend through a hardware store. 3. Draft a Lighting Plan If you have ever done another DIY or construction project, you already know how important it is to have a good plan in place before you begin. You can’t always plan for every unexpected obstacle, but it always helps to know what comes next. Plus, when you are cutting holes in your walls and ceiling, you probably want to get it right the first time–failure to do so can be frustrating and expensive. Grab some graph paper and make an easy to use scale of your desired construction site (e.g. 4 blocks for 12 inches). Figure out what you want to do with the lights, such as use them to highlight an art piece or give enough light for your hobby area. Using your precisely measured scale, you can plan the exact location of each light on your ceiling and begin figuring out what kind of recessed lighting is best for you. If you are unsure and need assistance, you can always ask an associate at your local hardware store to help you pick lights that fit your plan. 4. Pick the Right Circuit For your new to installing recessed lights, you will need to select a power source that can handle the additional electrical load. To do this, first you must determine the total wattage for everything currently connected to an individual circuit box. Next, calculate the total wattage of the recessed lighting you plan to connect to the circuit. Installation Tip: For example, a 15-amp circuit has a maximum load of around 1,440 watts, but that increases to 1,920 watts for 20-amp circuits. If you can, try to select a box that will allow you to fish out wires easily. This will help not only for this project, but any future projects as well. Be sure to accurately label the box. When you’ve chosen your outlet or switch, you’ll need to replace the electrical box. Once you’ve removed the box, you can use the existing hole and fish out the appropriate cables. Make sure your new box is large enough to hold all the wires that will now be connected to that hole. Installation Tip: If you have aluminum wiring, you should call a certified professional with experience in aluminum wiring. The wiring will appear dull grey instead of a copper-like orange. 5. Cut the Holes for Your Fixtures Luckily, you’ve gotten the majority of the background work done at this point. Your electrical wiring should be all set to accommodate installing recessed lighting, which means now it is time to make way for the fixtures. Find the joists in your ceiling or wall with a stud finder and sketch them into your plan. Figure out a way to run your cables and start directly marking the ceiling where your lights will go. Using a template, outline all of the light locations. Next, use your drywall saw to cut the holes, but be careful about snagging wires. Conversely, you can use the hole-cutting attachment from your drill to mark the light locations. Accuracy is key here–you don’t want any stray holes dotting your ceiling! 6. The Last of the Wiring Either from your attic or through a larger hole in your drywall, run a cable from the switch box to the power source. Take the same cable on to the first hole. In the light’s junction box, you’ll need to run the cable into junction and clamp it securely. You may need to do wire splicing or strip insulation. If this is the case, it is highly recommended that you call in a professional to do it for you. When you’ve finished, fold the wires neatly and replace the box’s cover. 7. Finish With the Trim Chances are your trim is mounted either with rod springs or coil springs. With rod springs, you will need to squeeze both ends and then insert the individual springs into their assigned holes. For coil springs, you’ll hook the springs into their respective holes. In either case, once you have the springs in place, you’ll just need to push the trim into place. Final Tips on Installing Recessed Light Fixtures Now that you’ve followed the installation instructions above, you’re still not quite done yet. There are a couple of final things you should do before you call your recessed lighting installation project a complete success. Light Testing: Before you pack away your toolkit, take the time to test your lights to ensure you have done your job correctly. First, take your light bulbs and screw them in. Next, turn the power back on and take note of whether every light is working as it is supposed to be. Hopefully, you’ll see your space come to life with your new recessed lighting. If you see anything that’s not quite working as it should, you may need to go back and check your wiring. If so, remember to turn the power off and ensure all the wires are dead before you start adjusting. Professional Help: Remember, if you start to feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do next, consult with a professional. You’ll find the knowledge and advice you need with professional contractors and home improvement specialists. While hiring a contractor can be expensive, remember that any damage you create from incorrectly doing an installation job can also be expensive. It’s best to do things the right way the first time.