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Recessed Can Lighting Cost Guide

Recessed lighting is one of the more popular options for homeowners today. This type of lighting comes in several different styles, and most styles slightly diffuse the light. This lets homeowners receive the amount of light that they need to cook or do other tasks without the light overwhelming them. Can lighting, which is one of the more popular styles, has the shape of a typical aluminum can. While these lights are suitable for all areas of the home, many will want to find out more about the lights and how much it would cost to install the lights in their homes.

The Costs

Average cost of can lighting per light

  • Minimum = $20
  • Maximum = $150

What Is Can Lighting?

Can lights consists of multiple parts including the frame, trim, housing and bulb. The housing is the part of the fixture that fits inside the ceiling. It features a socket that the bulb screws into and a concave shape that keeps the bulb tucked inside the ceiling. The trim refers to the piece of molding that sits on the bottom of the housing and keeps the housing from falling out of the ceiling. Trim pieces are available in multiple colors and styles to fit the design of any home. Can lighting also features a frame that fits inside the housing and sits flush with the housing.

Types of Can Lighting

Diffuse and directional are the two more common types of can lighting. Diffuse lights sit directly inside the ceiling and face straight down or slightly to an angle in one direction. This provides the same strength and amount of lighting at all times. Directional lighting features a unique design that lets a user push and pull on the light to change its direction.


Can lights often feature a steel construction, but the lights can have a different type of metal used in the interior and a plastic covering along the outside. The frame and housing of can lights usually use some type of metal, but the trim on the can light comes in different colors including black, white and brighter shades of red and green. The exterior of the light usually features plastic or a PVC material.

Installing Recessed Lighting

Installing recessed lighting involves several specific steps. The homeowner must first decide where he or she wants the lights placed. In most rooms, the best place for the lights is in the center of the ceiling. Recessed lighting works best when placed just above or slightly off to one side from a specific area of the room.

The installer will then make a series of cuts and holes in the ceiling for the housing units. He or she will then connect the lighting wires to the existing electrical wires in the ceiling or run new wires through the ceiling if needed. The housing will snap right into the holes with the addition of screws or glue, and the frame should fit snug on the housing. After screwing in each of the light bulbs, the installer will attach the trim and ensure the lights work properly.

Advantages of Can Lighting

One of the biggest advantages of can lighting is its space-saving design. As these lights sit flush with the ceiling or right below the ceiling, the lights take up less space than larger fluorescent lights. Can lighting also comes in multiple designs that can fit a more traditional home or a modern home, and the lights can work with incandescent or fluorescent bulbs to provide the amount of light that the users need. Can lighting is also more affordable than other types of recessed lighting, and most will find that it fits with any remodeling budget they have in mind.

Disadvantages of Can Lighting

Despite having some good benefits, can lighting also has some disadvantages. One of those is that the lights often work off the existing switch in the room that controls all the lights in the room at the same time. Those hoping to avoid this problem can install the can lights on a separate switch or use a dimmer switch that lets them adjust the brightness of the lights. Another potential disadvantage is that these lights often work best as a focal point. The lights draw attention to one specific area but usually cannot provide enough light to fully illuminate the room.

Things to Consider Before Installation

One thing that homeowners need to consider before choosing can lighting is whether they want flush-mount or pendant lights. Traditional can lighting features a design that resembles a small paint can and fits in the ceiling with the trim, housing and frame keeping it upright. This lets the light shine straight down into the room. The pendant design can lights have a small metal piece that attaches to the ceiling and acts as a hanging arm for the light. This bracket can focus the light up, down or at an angle. Some homeowners may opt for a combination of canned lights that provide more coverage in a room.

Cost of Lighting

The cost of can lighting often depends on the lights. Most home improvement stores offer a wide selection of can and recessed lighting options, but homeowners can also purchase lights directly from lighting stores and professionals with expertise installing lighting. The more basic can lights start at around $20, but the better lights that provide more coverage can cost up to $150. It's important that homeowners keep in mind that this applies to the cost of each individual light. If they have a larger room that requires more light, they may need to purchase more individual lights.

Cost of Lighting and Installation

Average cost of can lighting with installation

  • Minimum = $130
  • Maximum = $200

After deciding on the type of canned lights that they want in their home, homeowners need to look at the cost of installing those lights. Installation of those lights can start at around $130 and can rise to $200 or slightly more. The more expensive jobs usually require the installation of new wires in the home and adding housing that will keep the lights stable. If the home has wiring in good condition and existing housing for canned or recessed lighting, the cost of installation will generally be much lower.

Last updated on Apr 1, 2015

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