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How to Install Recessed Lights

Electrician Charles Vargas upgrades and installs ceiling lights with This Old house host, Kevin O’Connor.

Steps for Installing Recessed Lighting

  1. Turn off the electricity to the circuit you'll be working on.
  2. Mark the locations for the recessed lights on the ceiling. Choose locations that fall between joists and away from other obstructions.
  3. Drill a hole through the drywall ceiling at each light location using a drill and 6-inch-diameter hole saw.
  4. Use fish tape to pull 14/2 nonmetallic electrical cable from light hole to light hole.
  5. Attach a cable connector to the electrical box on the light fixture, then insert the cable into the box.
  6. Strip the insulation from the end of the electrical cable, then make the wire connections to the light fixture: white wire to white wire, black wire to black wire, and bare copper wire to bare copper wire. Secure each wire connection with twist-on connectors. Snap the cover back onto the light fixture's electrical box.
  7. Push the light-fixture housing up into the hole and press it tight against the ceiling.
  8. Next, reach inside the housing and push in the four metal clips. Securely lock each clip by tapping it with a hammer and slotted screwdriver. Repeat to connect and install the remaining recessed-light housings.
  9. From above the ceiling, find the existing electrical cable that comes from the wall switch and connect it to the new cable strung between the recessed lights. Make the wire connections inside a new metal junction box. Be sure to attach the box cover after making the wire connections.
  10. Install the light fixture into the recessed housing by first connecting the fixture's ground wire to the grounding wing nut inside the housing.
  11. Screw the remodel recessed lighting fixture into the socket located inside the housing, then press the fixture into the housing until it clicks into place.
  12. Turn on the electricity and flip on the light switch to check your work.

Tools and Materials