Installing Recessed Lights: Tips and Tricks

February 5, 2020

installing recessed lights

Looking for a stunning way to add some extra lighting to your home? As home improvement projects go, recessed lighting is a popular choice among many homeowners. Although recessed lights are a sleek, modern asset to a modern home, installing recessed lights can be a challenge. Aside from being a surprisingly dirty job, recessed lighting installation is also tiring. After all, you are working with your arms above your head for an extended period of time when installing recessed lights.

If you aren’t a certified electrician, it is likely that you have no idea where to start when installing recessed lights. Luckily, that doesn’t mean that you should go without it! Hiring a licensed electrician for your recessed lighting installation will save you valuable time and ensure your lights look their best! At Right Electrical Services, we don’t consider recessed light installation to be a DIY job. From the difficulty associated with the job to the high risk for improper installation, it’s always best to call a local electrician.

That being said, we have some valuable tips and tricks that you should know if you decide to take on your recessed lighting installation project on your own. With these tips, you can guarantee that your recessed lights will not only look attractive but also function properly. Here’s everything that you need to know to ensure a fast, smooth experience installing recessed lights in your home.

Shop Smart When Purchasing Recessed Lights

The first step in the process of installing recessed lights is purchasing the lights themselves. When shopping for your new recessed lights, there are a few key factors that you should keep in mind. For one, remember that recessed lights are held in place by clips that snap inside the ceiling itself. For this reason, it is vital that you select recessed lights that snap securely into the ceiling. This is your best chance of ensuring an easier installation process. It is also important that your recessed lights can dependably stay in place in order to avoid the danger of it unsnapping and falling on someone.

One trick for ensuring that your recessed lights stay in place is to remember not to rely on the recessed light clips to draw the light housing up into the ceiling when installing your recessed lighting. Rather than doing this, you should provide the push yourself by placing a gloved hand inside of the light while pushing up firmly. Once the light is completely flush with the ceiling itself, snap the clips down with your free hand. This ensures that the light is properly secured.

Preparation is the Key to Avoiding a Patch Job

One of the worst things that can happen when installing your own recessed lighting is needing to stop and patch holes. This can pause the installation process, sometimes by hours, taking up even more of your valuable time. The key to avoiding the need for a patch job when installing recessed lights is to plan and prepare effectively.

Take the extra time needed to plan everything out before starting your work. Pay attention to the correct placement of your recessed lights, think in terms of cable runs, and establish the most attractive pattern of lights before you ever drill your first hole. While this may seem like an unneeded amount of planning for something like lighting installation, you’ll find that this extra planning can save you time and money. The process of drywall patching, sanding, priming, and painting are very tedious tasks that you’ll wish you had been able to avoid. Right Electrical Services is here to tell you that all of this can be avoided by simply planning in advance!

Cut Ceiling Holes Properly

Installing recessed lighting is all about doing things in the right order. While it may seem like the best idea to cut a hole, wire and place the light, and then move onto the next one, but it is best practice to cut all of the holes at once. This ensures that your lights will be properly placed and is the most effective way to install recessed lighting.

Get your safety glasses and a dust mask and cut all of your holes at once. This also makes for easier cleanup as you can clean up all of the fallen dust all at once without having to stop in between each hole. After doing so, you can dust yourself off and start on connecting the electrical cables to each of the recessed lights you have chosen.

Work From the Ground as Much as Possible

installing recessed lights on ladder

Take it from an experienced team of electricians: working from the ground as much as possible will save you energy and, possibly, a lot of pain! When installing your recessed lights, it may seem like the best idea to work from a ladder but working from a ladder drains your energy much quicker than working from the ground. Aside from that, the more time you spend on a ladder, the greater your chances of slipping, falling and injuring yourself.

The key to keeping your energy up and reducing the amount of strain put on your neck and back is to work from the ground. Some of the activities associated with installing recessed lights, such as stripping wires, are best done off of the ladder. It is best practice to only climb up on the ladder for the tasks that demand it, such as making the final wiring connections and outfitting the light into the ceiling.

Pay Attention to Electrical Cables

It is vital that you pay attention to the positioning of your electrical cables and wires when installing recessed lighting in your home. After all, electrical cables are notorious for re-positioning your recessed lights in ways that you didn’t initially intend. The electrical cables used in installing recessed lights are so strong that they can turn what may seem like an easy enough task into a full-blown nightmare.

Take care to hold the light with one hand while using your other hand to form the cable into a more easily-handled shape. This way, when pushing the light up into the hole, the cable will have much more flexibility, making it much easier to place in the way you want it.

Choose the Right Kind of Light Bulb For Your Recessed Lights

incandescent bulb and energy saving bulb

Finally, take care to choose the right kind of light bulb when installing your recessed lights. When choosing the perfect bulb for your recessed lighting project, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the number of options available to you.

Each type of light bulb used in recessed lighting has something different to offer you and knowing the difference between each will serve you well in making the right choice for your home.  Here is the complete rundown of some of the most popularly used bulbs in recessed lighting:

  • A Bulbs:  An A bulb will be your best bet if you are looking for an inexpensive bulb option for your recessed lighting project. These standard incandescent bulbs are good for general lighting but require the use of a reflector trim in order to amplify the light.
  • R Bulbs: R Bulbs are also good options for general lighting, particularly in living spaces. They are a popular option for recessed lighting projects as they feature a built-in reflective surface that warms up its incandescent light, casting a spotlight pattern, without the need for a reflector trim.
  • LED Bulbs: LED bulbs have become an increasingly popular choice for homeowners looking to install recessed lighting in their homes. They are by far the most energy-efficient bulb at your disposal with a life of up to 11 years even when being used up to 12 hours a day. These bulbs come in a variety of color temperatures, making them a great option for any room in your home regardless of ambiance. Best of all, they don’t generate heat. It is important to note, however, that this is a more expensive option. Take this into consideration if you are operating on a budget.
  • Halogen Bulbs: Halogen bulbs are great for general lighting and offer a white, bright controlled beam that is particularly suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. That being said, they are also great options for task lighting or accent lighting. If energy-efficience is important to you (and it should be), low-voltage halogen bulbs are your best bet. Low-voltage halogen bulbs are a bit more expensive than standard but that cost comes with better light quality, energy-efficiency, and longer life.

Call Your Raleigh Electricians for Recessed Lights Installation!

recessed lights installation by Right Electrical Services
Recessed lighting, under-cabinet lighting, and lighting fixtures installed by Right Electrical Services


Looking to installed recessed lights in your home as your next big home improvement project? Give Right Electrical Services a call! Our licensed electricians are happy to provide you with an estimate as well as offer our lighting installation services.

Make sure your recessed lighting installation is done the right way the first time! Contact Raleigh’s top electricians today! We will be happy to assist you.



Renee is a freelance copywriter and blogger known for her expertise surrounding topics like marketing, freelancing, mental health, and more. She has written for hundreds of small business websites and is the Marketing Director here at Right Electrical Services, LLC. Renee believes that when a business prioritizes entertaining, engaging, and informational content for their readers, they can expect a loyal following that trusts their company.

2 Replies to “Installing Recessed Lights: Tips and Tricks”

  1. Installing recessed lighting means you have to cut holes in the ceiling and sometimes parts of the walls that can become potential areas that air can leak in and out of your house. These tricks and tips are very helpful.

  2. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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