How to Install Energy Efficient Recessed Ceiling Lights

Written by philip schmidt
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The relative energy efficiency of a recessed ceiling light fixture is determined by the type of bulb and the fixture housing. The most energy efficient bulbs are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED (light-emitting diode). You can use a CFL with any standard recessed fixture, or install a "fluorescent" recessed fixture for use with CFLs. LED lights offer the best energy efficiency and are available in recessed fixtures. However, this is an emerging technology, and fixtures currently are out of most people's price range. For any recessed fixtures that will go into an insulated ceiling, be sure to use an airtight, IC-rated (insulated ceiling) fixture, to minimise heat loss through the fixture housing.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure
  • Stud finder (as needed)
  • Drywall saw
  • Drill (as needed)
  • Wiring supplies

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    How to Install Energy Efficient Recessed Light Fixtures

  1. 1

    Turn off the power to the fixture circuit and any other circuits in the project area. Mark the ceiling surface to indicate the precise centre of the fixtures. If necessary, use a stud finder or a hammer and finish nail to locate the ceiling joists in the area. Installation varies by fixture: some fixtures mount between joist pairs, some mount to the side of a joist, and some are simply inserted into holes in the drywall ceiling.

  2. 2

    Mark a hole onto the ceiling for each fixture by tracing around the fixture housing or drawing a circle using a pencil compass. Use a drywall saw to cut out the hole.

  3. 3

    Fasten each fixture's mounting frame to the ceiling joists, as directed. For insert-type (or "remodel") fixtures, install the fixtures after making the wiring connections.

  4. 4

    Secure the circuit cable to the fixture or the junction box on the mounting frame. Complete the wiring connections according to the manufacturer's wiring diagram

  5. 5

    Install the fixture, securing it to the mounting frame or drywall. If the ceiling already is insulated, cover the fixture with insulation (for IC-rated fixtures only), as directed. Install a CFL designed for recessed fixtures. Turn on the power to the circuit and test the fixtures.

Tips and warnings

  • All electrical work must conform to the local building code. Contact your city's building department for recommendations.

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