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What is the difficulty level of installing recessed lights?


RatHat's Avatar
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01-30-07, 01:04 PM   #1 (permalink)  
What is the difficulty level of installing recessed lights?

Our electrician gave us an estimate of $200/light installed for recessed lights. We are going to need approximately 10 lights, and this is more than I want to spend. How skilled do you need to be to install recessed lights on your own?

 
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01-30-07, 01:33 PM   #2 (permalink)  
The thing I would want to know is if this is new (everything exposed) or are you trying to add them into a finished ceiling ?

 
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01-30-07, 02:54 PM   #3 (permalink)  
We are trying to add them to a finished ceiling (house was built in '87). Above the ceiling is attic.

 
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01-30-07, 04:40 PM   #4 (permalink)  
Most areas allow live-in homeowners to do their own electrical work, but you still need permits/inspections. That said, if you are asking, you should let the pro do the work. Running wires in existing finished construction can be iffy. It usually involves cutting some holes in drywall to get from point A to point B, and requires a lot of assumptions about the construction. If any of those assumptions are wrong, add a lot to the bill.

 
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01-30-07, 04:43 PM   #5 (permalink)  
If you have attic access I would say the difficulty is a 2 on a scale of 1-10. Maybe a little more difficult if you have to pull power from some place that isn't as easily accessible.
Make a lighting plan and ensure that you have an adequately sized circuit available to provide power. You'll need at least 750W available. A 15 amp lighting circuit (1440W) is adequate if there aren't a lot of other loads.
You'll also need to consider the location of the ceiling joists when marking your layout. I tape a template to the ceiling to make sure I have the lights where I want them and make sure no joist will interfere.
With an accessible attic, new construction, IC rated cans are probably the best choice. Although there have been posts questioning the efficiency of "airtight" cans, they're probably a good choice.

I installed 7 recessed cans in my attic in a day working alone. I probably spent much less than $500.

If you have little electrical experience, consider getting a DIY home wiring book to get an understanding of the basics.

 
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01-30-07, 07:13 PM   #6 (permalink)  
Agreed.....study up on the how-to, and take your time doing it. Also, $200/fixture is too much in my opinion (am I working too cheap?!), but maybe that's why I don't have a shiny new truck in my driveway......

Anyway, depending on what area you live in, a recessed fixture housing w/ trim will start at less than $15 for both. Pick up a roll of 14-2 cable, a possible junction box here and there, and you're looking at saving at least 80% on that estimate (again, depending on what lights you want and the local prices).

Don't step through the sheetrock!

 
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01-30-07, 09:14 PM   #7 (permalink)  
It's a bit high. With an attic access and only 20 years old. I won't set others prices, Ask them to sharpen the pencil.

 
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01-31-07, 07:23 AM   #8 (permalink)  
It's been my experience that a single bid from a contractor isn't always a good indication of the "real" cost. Some contractors deliberately overbid when they don't want the job. It's better to get at least 3 bids.

Installing recessed lights is a definite DIY job if you are just a little bit handy and don't have a problem crawling around in an attic for a day.

Best advice so far in this thread ... "don't step through the sheetrock". I saw a plumber's helper catch a joist in the crotch when he stepped through the ceiling. No one had ever told him to walk on the joists. My guess is that he was celibate for a long time after.

 
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02-07-07, 12:53 PM   #9 (permalink)  
thank you for the advice. we're still debating what to do. i will get some other estimates, but i'm leaning toward track lighting as that seems much cheaper.

 
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