How to install replacement bulbs for downlights

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to install replacement bulbs for downlights
Let a halogen downlight cool down for at least 30 minutes before changing the light bulb. (light image by Gonçalo Carreira from

Recessed lights, or downlights, are lighting fixtures that are usually task-specific. A downlight will often be focused on a countertop in the kitchen so that the area is well lit. Downlights can be found in a wide variety of sizes. Most downlights use a simple surround to cover the electrical components, and replacement bulb installation is designed to be easy for consumers.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Duct tape
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Turn the light fixture off. This is particularly important for halogen fixtures as the bulbs get very hot. Allow the bulb to cool completely for at least 30 minutes.

  2. 2

    Pull down on the surround trim ring. Most trim rings are spring-loaded and will pull straight down, allowing easy access to the light bulb. If you cannot get your fingers under the lip of the ring, use a flat screwdriver to pull the trim ring away from the ceiling. If the trim ring is not movable, do not try to force it.

  3. 3

    Cut a 6-inch strip of duct tape. Stick 1 inch of each end of the tape onto the light bulb. Squeeze the remaining 4 inches together so you can easily grip the tape. Briskly twist the tape counterclockwise to get the bulb to unscrew. Turn the tape and bulb until the bulb is fully out. Replace with the same wattage bulb and type suggested for the fixture.

Tips and warnings

  • Screw new light bulbs until they are snug but not tight. If a bulb is hard to screw in then something is probably wrong. Check for crossed threads or an incorrect bulb size. Sockets can also be dented or bent. Replace any damaged or broken parts.

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