How to wire spotlights

Updated April 17, 2017

Spotlights are a great way to upgrade your interior lighting, whether with directional spots or as recessed lights. Installing spotlights is an advanced do-it-yourself task, which may involve some electrical work. Most spotlight installation systems come with mounting brackets to suspend them from a ceiling stud or a hanging joist. With proper preparation, this project should take no more than an afternoon or weekend.

Locate the studs in the roof where the spotlight will be mounted. Measure the distance between the studs.

Turn off the electricity to that room of the house. Double check to be sure that the electricity is off before you start the project.

Measure the dimensions of the junction box to power the spotlight, and measure the distance to the studs above the ceiling. Make sure that your mounting equipment can brace against both studs, or if you can, screw the mounting bracket to the stud itself for added stability.

Cut a hole with the same dimensions as the junction box for the spotlight in the ceiling and be sure the box fits. Hang the junction box over the hole using the mounting equipment that came with the spotlight.

Cut the cable to roughly six inches longer than needed to run it to the junction box for the spotlight. This gives you a small amount of slack to gather everything together before you put the junction box into the ceiling.

Run the cable from your existing wiring to the junction box; follow the instructions on the junction box for the connection to the cable.

Place the junction box into the hole, hanging it from the mounting bracket that you installed earlier.

Attach the spotlight to the junction bracket or other attachment points indicated by the manufacturer.

Restore the electricity to the room and check to see that the light works.


Spotlights come in standard (110 or 120 volt) and low voltage (12 volt) varieties, which can help reduce your energy bills.


If you are not comfortable dealing with electrical current, hire an electrician. While this is a decent home handyman project, it is considerably riskier than hanging cabinet doors.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Interior spotlight kit
  • Saw
  • A length of electrical cable
  • Wire cutters
  • A ladder
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About the Author

Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.