How to remove a recessed spotlight

Updated February 21, 2017

Removing a recessed spotlight is not a difficult job, and can be done in about an hour with some basic tools. Occasionally, you may want to update the look of your home or change the lighting scheme altogether, requiring that you remove a recessed spotlight, along with the metal canister. The light socket on the top of the canister is wired to a junction box inside the ceiling next to the canister. You can remove the metal canister and wiring yourself to save time and money.

Shut off the power to the spotlight by turning off the circuit breaker at the breaker box before attempting to remove the recessed spotlight. Unscrew the spotlight from the light socket, and set it out of the way.

Pry the trim away from the light fixture carefully with a flat head screwdriver, and set it aside. Unfasten the clips holding the metal casing to the frame with a flat head screwdriver, and remove the metal casing.

Unfasten the screws that are holding the metal canister to the ceiling with a flat head screwdriver, and lift the canister up through the ceiling, setting it on the ceiling joist. Remove the screws on the cover of the metal junction box inside the ceiling next to the metal canister with a Phillips screwdriver and set the cover out of the way.

Remove the plastic wire connectors from the ends of the electrical wires, and take the armoured cable wire out of the junction box. Pull the metal canister out of the ceiling, and discard the metal canister.


Always let the spotlight cool down before attempting to remove it from the light socket.


To avoid electric shock, always turn the circuit breaker off to the spotlight at the breaker box before attempting to remove the light.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
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About the Author

Carl Pruit has been a freelance writer since 2005, specializing in service journalism and travel. His work has appeared on various websites. Born and raised in California, Pruit attended Contra Costa Community College in San Pablo, Calif. and received an associate degree in the administration of justice.