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How to Convert Recessed Lighting to Pendant Lighting

Updated February 21, 2017

When a change in decor is desired, light fixtures can play a key role. For example, when changing a room to add a table, pendant lighting adds focused light above the table. The nice thing about pendant lighting is even though a plate is covering the electrical connections, the fixture itself can be hung as close to the ceiling as desired. Shop for the pendant light fixture with the diameter of the hole in the ceiling created for the recessed light fixture. Make sure the ceiling plate of the pendant fixture is large enough to cover the hole in the ceiling where the recessed light fixture is located.

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  1. Locate the electrical panel that houses the breaker that supplies electricity to the recessed light fixture and switch it to the off position. Place the stepladder under the recessed light fixture and remove the bulb.

  2. Climb into the attic and locate the recessed light fixture. Remove the panel covering the electrical connections.

  3. Pull the wires out of the box and remove the wire nuts and/or electrical tape. Back the screws out that are holding the recessed fixture to ceiling joists with the variable-speed drill and Phillips-head screw tip.

  4. Place the plywood over the hole in the ceiling. Apply glue to the top of the plywood where it meets the ceiling joists, place the 2-by-4s on the glue and the plywood and secure them to the ceiling joists with the 2½-inch drywall screws.

  5. Drill a hole in the centre of the plywood and feed the electrical wires through the hole. Climb down from the attic.

  6. Install the pendant light fixture according to the manufacturer's instruction. Turn the breaker back on.

  7. Tip

    The ceiling plate of the pendant light fixture must cover the hole left by the recessed light fixture. Wrap the wire nuts with electrical tape to prevent an electrical short.


    Do not leave tools unattended in the presence of children. Never work with live electricity

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Things You'll Need

  • Stepladder
  • Variable-speed drill
  • Phillips-head screw tip
  • 14½-by-14½-by-¾-inch plywood
  • 2 pieces of 2-by-4-by-14½ -inch lumber
  • 2 ½-inch drywall screws

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.

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