How Much Does It Cost To Install Recessed Lighting?

Are you looking for a quick fix to give your room a stunning ambiance? Well, installing recessed lighting may just be what you're looking for.

These lights give a warm glow to your room that offers a sense of coziness and comfort. Trust us; it's a proven and tested way to give your look an elegant outlook. 

So what will it cost you?

The two primary options are can lights and canless lights (we explain the difference further in the guide).  Canless lights will cost you about $40 to $160 per fixture, while can lights cost about $80 to $240 per fixture.  Expect installers to have a minimum project size of about $1,000 to cover associated with the project.  

Remember that the estimated expenses will still depend on your housing type, trim, and preferred bulbs. Recessed lights are available in two styles: canless and lights that require housing (or can). Can lights are also commonly known as pot lights or high hats.

For your reference, most recessed lights are LED canless recessed fixtures. This choice fits new construction and retrofits, as they are quickly installed, take up less space, and are cost-efficient. 

Turn your dull-looking, cluttered room into a stylish living space with recessed lights.

Now that you've decided on this home improvement project, we'll walk you through the cost to add recessed lighting. Hopefully, you will better understand how much recessed lighting costs at the end of this article. 

What are Recessed Lights?


Also known as pot or can lights, recessed lights are lighting fixtures typically installed in your ceiling or walls through cylindrical holes. Generally, they are divided into three parts: housing, trim, and bulb.

While the average cost to install recessed lighting is affordable, it all boils down to several factors, including your property's location, labor costs, and the number of fixtures to install. 

Recessed Lighting Installation Cost Overview


The average cost of recessed light installation is $115 to $552 per fixture. If you plan to install six fixtures, that will cost you about $2,484.

Remember that the estimated expenses will still depend on your housing type, trim, and preferred bulbs. 

Recessed lights are available in two styles: canless and lights that require housing (or can). Can lights are also commonly known as pot lights or high hats. 

For your reference, most recessed lights are LED canless recessed fixtures. This choice fits new construction and retrofits, as they are quickly installed, take up less space, and are cost-efficient.

Factors Affecting Recessed Lighting Installation Costs


Before you set your budget for recessed lighting costs, it's essential to familiarize all the necessary expenses to be considered.

Labor


The average labor cost to install recessed lighting is somewhere between $230 and $287 per fixture. Keep in mind that each fixture takes around 2 hours and a half on average.

Should your contractor install multiple lights on one circuit and switch, expect reduced labor expenses accordingly. 

Extra Work


Suppose your electrician will need to do extra labor, such as discarding heating ducts, joists, and wiring obstacles. If that's the case– prepare to pay an additional $253 per light (or more). It all boils down to the number of extra work to be done, as per your contractor. Keep in mind that this estimate refers to any new wiring for new fixtures since they need a separate lighting and wiring system. If your living space is already wired accordingly, expect your light installation costs to be lower.

Before the actual installation process, your electrician may need to do a home inspection to evaluate your current wiring system as well as the ceiling. Based on their findings, they can advise you on the right recessed lights to fit your needs. It also includes their position and spacing in a room and the ideal position of switches.

Refer to the table below to take a closer look at the professional installation costs involved in installing pot lights: 

Professional Installation

Average Costs

Recessed Light Fixture Installation (Single)

$51 - $132

Recessed Light Fixture Installation (Multiple)

$885 - $2,875

Recessed Light Fixture Installation (Between Floors or on Sloped Ceiling)

$150 - $173

Home Rewiring

$12,075

Moving Obstacles

$253 each

Existing Ceiling 


When installing recessed lights in existing ceilings, canless LED recessed lights will cost you approximately around $230 to $345 per fixture. These additions do not need housing unless you want them in the attic, where you will need to space them from insulation properly.

Standard can lights, in contrast, runs for $414 for each piece. With most installation projects requiring up to four fixtures, you may spend a total of $2,484. Once you've signed up with a local electrician, these professionals will generally cut a hole in your existing ceiling to install these fixtures in place.

You may also need to drill another hole to re-route your wires, but this will all depend on the wiring placement. 

New Construction


Recessed light installation in new construction will cost you around $920 to $3,220. As of writing, the per-can price runs from $115 to $345, which is the primary basis of this estimated cost. Since recessed lights in new construction can be easily installed, especially with the open walls, you can quickly have them attached to joists and wires without drywall blocking your way.

Depending on the expertise of your contractor, most professionals may install up to six new light fixtures in just one hour. 

Recessed Lights Types


There are two main types of recessed lights: LED trims or a combination of trim and light bulb installation. It is available as a complete unit consisting of LED chips, a lens, and a trim for LED trims. It fits in one housing or "can."

Note that LED trims lack a separate light bulb and trim, but the sealed appearance adds to its overall appeal. While screws are not required to install these in place, they have a screw-based adapter for installation purposes.

So, why is this an advantage? The majority of energy restriction codes are now pushing against screw-based light fixtures. Instead, plug-in fixtures are encouraged to achieve maximum efficiency. 

  • LED Integrated Canless Recessed Light: Generally, canless LED lights will cost you $57 to $172 per fixture. Note that this estimate does not include the necessary wiring work.  If we add in the wiring labor and material cost, you may end up spending up to $1,150 for each room. 
  • Can Lights: Pot lights run for $35 to $264 on average. Meanwhile, housings may cost somewhere between $10 to $184- depending on its type.  Standard bulbs and trims cost $17 to $70, and wiring may cost you about $9 for each fixture. If your contractor stumbles with related problems in the process, the cost to add recessed lighting will only get more costly. 

Size


You can choose from different sizes of recessed light fixtures that fit your needs– ranging from four to seven inches in diameter. If you're still uncertain about the proper size of recessed lights you need, consider the total area size of the living space you need to light as well as the ceiling height.

A standard 4-inch fixture can accommodate a ceiling with 8 inches length, giving proper lighting in kitchen countertops. This recessed light size is also suitable for accent lighting purposes.  

For your dining area, a 6-inch light fixture will give sufficient lighting. Homeowners with a ceiling that measures 10 inches will significantly benefit from using a 4-inch fixture to enable the lighting to spread out evenly. The most popular size will have to be 6-inch light fixtures, and it is available in different designs and styles.

You have plenty of options to consider as you search for the best trim that fits your home aesthetic.  

Light Bulbs


Another important consideration in installing recessed lights is the type of bulb you prefer using. Most bulb screws fit fluorescent, incandescent, halogen, and LED light bulbs. Consider a bulb's crucial aspects, like color temperature and wattage, as it will significantly affect the light quality in your room.

If you're wondering about the most common bulbs used for recessed lighting fixtures, these would be halogen and LED lights. LED lights are a crowd-favorite given their energy efficiency, intensity, and warmth. They also meet all the essential aspects of other bulb types.

Suppose you're going for general warm lighting for a space such as the family living room. In that case, consider going for incandescent bulbs. Homeowners who want a balance between bright colors and warmth can opt for fluorescent lights. Meanwhile, if you're only working with small spaces, halogen lights can give you just the right amount of intense lighting you need.

Whatever type of light bulb you have set your eyes on, ensure you prioritize its wattage as well. An electrician can recommend great bulbs within your fixture wattage.  

Spacing and Location of Lights


Several homeowners are under the impression that you need more lighting and fewer lights if you want maximum brightness. But, that's not exactly the case with recessed lighting fixtures. You will need to pay close attention to the spacing between each fixture and the location where they are installed. These two crucial factors determine their lighting quality and overall brightness.

In short, regardless of how bright your chosen light is– it may still fall short in giving proper lighting if it's poorly positioned. Save yourself from this trouble by determining the correct number of lights and spacing for your living space.

For general lighting purposes, have your lights spaced at 40 to 80 inches at the very least. It may also apply for recessed lights installed in corridors and hallways. 

Light Fixtures


The individual cost of your preferred light fixture will also hike the overall installation expenses, with the essential recessed lights running for about $20 to $75 each. Some high-end options may cost a little over $115 per piece.

Accordingly, the total expenses will depend on the required number of fixtures and their type, each having varying costs. Consult with your contractor to break down the project costs in detail. If you choose elegant accent lights, keep in mind that this will naturally cost you more than what you'd pay for basic, ordinary lights. 

Wiring


Wiring is considered as one of the most influential variables in the cost of installing recessed lights. Suppose you previously had wiring for existing lights. In this case, you may opt to use the same wiring for your new recessed lighting fixtures. It translates to substantially lower expenses.

Meanwhile, older homes may have an outdated wiring system that's not compatible with recessed lights. If that's the situation, you will need to pay an electrician to replace your old wiring with a system that meets code standards. Prepare around $12,075 to rewire your entire home, given that the process will take longer and will cost you more. 

Recessed Light Finishes and Color


At this point, ask yourself: what finishing type would you like for your recessed lights? Ideally, the finishes must maximize the light's reflection while reducing any excess brightness and glare. Use the existing finishing in the room or living space as a guide to select the right kind of finishes for your recessed lights. Remember that the trim colors may also impact the light's output.

In particular, dark colors may absorb the light– resulting in a specific light output loss.  If you notice subtle silver undertones in your cabinetry and other furniture, pick a trim that will complement the finish nicely. White trims also make for a great choice, as it helps the fixtures blend with the ceiling.

Here are some popular finishes you can consider: 

  • Bronze
  • Black
  • Copper
  • Chrome or Clear
  • Gold
  • Nickel
  • Silver
  • White

Fortunately, recessed lighting fixtures allow you to change and replace the trim to your liking. You may opt to choose a different finish or style without really installing new housing. 

Should I Hire a Professional to Install Recessed Lighting? 


Many homeowners opt to install recessed lighting on their own, given they have the proper skills and safety knowledge. It will only cost them $35 to $265. Meanwhile, you can save more if you have existing cans at home. Retrofit LED kits are priced cheaper at $9 to $24 total. Not to mention, they are easier to install in a DIY home project.

However, we strongly advise you to seek the assistance of a local contractor or electrician for safety purposes. Keep in mind that recessed lighting needs to follow local code since it comprises the electrical system. An electrician has the right expertise and knowledge to ensure your project will meet all needed requirements.

Doing so helps you avoid hefty fines and penalties from inspectors. Additionally, professionals do not waste a second in completing the work safely, leaving no room for errors. 

Final Thoughts


Bottom line, several factors come into play in calculating the total costs of installing recessed lights. These lovely additions serve beyond just a source of light in your home, but they also give off a strong sense of ambiance and warmth. (Related: How To Design A Small Bathroom To Maximize Space)

Given proper positioning with complementary finishes, recessed lights can take your home aesthetic to the next level. Hence, make sure your lighting fixtures blend in with your home's theme and style. 

Kenneth Wilson
October 5, 2021
Cost Guides, Interior

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.