At B&B Electric we want all our customers to be in “the Know” when it comes to their lighting knowledge. One of the most frequent questions we hear from customers is: “How do I install recessed lighting?”

Well first and foremost, that simple question brings up a whole lot of smaller questions you must consider before you break out the sawzall. Namely:

  • What are you wanting your recessed lighting to light?
  • Will you be putting light on a specific spot or area, or are you just adding warmth to a whole room?
  • How much space do you have, and how big of a fixture are you wanting to put there?
  • What type of light are you looking to use?
  • Will you need new construction fixtures, or ones designed for remodels?
  • What is you wiring like? Does it need replaced? Is it old or new?
    Are you working with insulation?

All these questions are important, and by asking them, you’ll streamline your installation project time dramatically. To help you out, let’s get into some basic terms you should be aware of:

The Housing: Usually assembled from two pieces (they can sometimes be only one solid part,) this is the part that will be mounted to the ceiling.

The Trim: this is the aesthetics portion that fits into the housing. Some special trims will have to be removed for bulb installation, depending on different manufacturers and your preference.

Watts or Wattage: this is the maximum wattage for the safe use of bulbs. You should not use a bulb with higher wattage than the fixture. The average wattage for light bulbs is 75 or 100 watts, yet you can choose to go as high as 150 watts.

The Frame: some places have open framing, and you might need a frame that you can attach to secure locations.

Remember, if you have any questions, one of our experts at B&B Electric will be glad to help.

What Will You Light with Recessed Lighting?

Few types of lighting are as flexible as recessed lighting. At B&B Electric, we love the way you can use it to create a mood in a hallway, use it to focus on a desk, or even just for overall general lighting.

Yet this same flexibility or versatility means you really need to determine what it is you are trying to accomplish. Do you have a family photo you want to draw focus to with a spot bulb? Are you just highlighting an antique collection?

It’s important to know the end desire of what it is you are after.

What Size Fixture Suits Your Needs?

The most common and popular fixture for recessed lighting is 6”. However, sizes can vary from 4″ through 7″ in diameter. So the question you should be asking yourself is how far from the fixture is the area you are trying to light.

Light spreads differently the further it has to travel, so if you ceiling is 8’ then you will be able to get a smaller fixture than if you have 10’ ceilings. So considering what you are lighting, this plays a huge role in your fixture size.

This means a 6” fixture is great for a wash from a 10’ ceiling, but a poor choice if you are looking to put a spot on a counter top.

Your fixture size may also limit your choice in trim, depending on the popularity of that size. That means, for a 6” fixture, you will have a larger variety of trim you can choose from.

Because fixture size in recessed lighting is so important, it also has an impact in the type of bulb you can choose. LED bulbs are usually more expensive but have grown in popularity due to their versatility. You will find more variety of these types of bulbs at the 6” size category as well.

However, certain aesthetic choices in fixture, such as special lamp-type fixtures, can only take certain light bulbs, like halogen of florescent light bulbs. So, your choices may also need to include how warm you want the lighting, or how often you are willing to change the bulbs.

Lastly, you need to consider if you are going to want your lighting to dim. Again, this feature alone has helped to increase the popularity of LED lights, because certain light bulbs (like fluorescents) require a special ballast to add a dimming feature.

Will You Need Remodel Fixtures or New-Construction Housings?

Every B&B Electric employee recognizes that homes have their own personality. For us, that can mean a lot of things, but we all agree that age and originality of the home adds to this trait. For you, lighting can bring out whatever type of personality you want it to, if you understand some key factors of simply how to bring it out.

New-construction homes can add fixtures that are directly supported by attaching the fixture’s frame to the ceiling joists by screwing or nailing it in place. Because of this, you will find that new-construction fixtures are usually quite a bit easier on your budget.

However, many of you will be looking to bring out some of the personality in your existing home, and this means you will probably not have direct access to new wiring. In other words, you will be using existing wiring and therefore have to plan accordingly.

Adding Recessed Lighting to Your Existing Home

Wiring new fixtures can be extremely complicated. Not only will you have to find the means for balancing the fixtures to attach them properly, you will have to connect the lighting property to the junction box.

For example: Type MC cables have clamps built in, and therefore require less time investment to install, whereas if you are using Romex wiring, you’ll need to find fixtures with Type NM clamps present in their junction boxes.

Also, you will need to determine if your fixture will come in contact with any insulation. There are ratings that each housing has, and you’ll want to find those that are Insulation Compatible (IC). This will prevent you from having to purchase an expensive case to prevent the housing from encountering the insulation.

This is a common requirement for homes with an unfinished attic space, and also brings up a rating known as AT (air tight.) AT rating housing helps prevent heat from escaping (or entering) the home.

Lastly, recessed lighting is known as a hard-wired fixture. Every circuit is limited by the amount of wattage used by these types of fixtures. Bulbs do not factor into the math here, only the fixtures. Bulb wattage is factored in per fixture, not per the entire circuit.

So what you are looking for is finding fixtures that allow you to use the bulbs you want, but do not overload the circuit. At this point, if you find yourself overwhelmed with information, ​don’t despair. You can always contact a professional electrician like B&B Electric to help with consultation and installation of your recessed lighting.

Be “In the Know” contact B&B Electric at (817) 600-8376 for more information about recessed lighting, today!