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Installation of spotlights into a ceiling

Updated February 21, 2017

Recessed spot or can lights shed illumination in a small area to create ambience or provide light for a specific task. Can lights are similar to standard light fixtures and are installed with a three-conductor cable that will match up to standard household cables. To meet building regulations and ensure safety, have a licensed electrician make the connection at your breaker box and run the cable from it, to the light installation area. Have her install a junction box to the ceiling joist directly above where you want your light for a safe connection.

Turn off the breaker connecting the new junction box to the breaker box. Depress the buttons on the sides of the electronic stud locator and pass it across the ceiling to locate the precise location of the joist that your light will be attached to. Mark the edge of the joist. Position the paper template that came with your light, with one edge aligned to the joist you marked. Trace the circle of the template onto the ceiling.

Cut the circle out with a utility knife and remove the drywall to open the hole. Position the spotlight fixture directly above the hole, with its mounting brackets on the face of the joint. Use a drill to install 4 cm (1 5/8 inch) treated deck screws through each hole in the brackets to anchor the light to the joist.

Use a screwdriver to remove the cover from the front of the junction box. Remove the wire nuts from the end of the cable your electrician installed. Feed the wire leads from the spotlight into the junction box through one of the punch-outs on the side of the box. Match the wires by colour. Twist a wire nut onto each pair of wires to fasten them together.

Replace the cover on the junction box and use the screwdriver to install and tighten the mounting screws. Fit the trim ring up from the bottom of the ceiling into the spotlight fixture. Press up until the spring-loaded clips at the sides of the trim ring fit into the canister of the light above the ceiling. Press it firmly up to the ceiling. Restore the power to the light.

Things You'll Need

  • Electronic stud locator
  • Screwdriver
  • Light fixture
  • Drill
  • Treated deck screws
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About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.