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How Much Does It Cost To Install Recessed Lighting?

Typical Range: $240 - $480

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May 04, 2021

Reviewed by Salvatore Cutrona, Licensed Master Electrician
Written by HomeAdvisor.

Recessed Lighting Cost

Expect to pay between $100 to $480 per fixture, or $360 on average, when having recessed lighting installed by a pro. At the average price, the project runs about $2,160 for six fixtures. The total varies depending on the type of housing, trim, and bulbs you select. Recessed lighting comes in two main styles: canless and those that need a housing or “can”. Can lights are also called pot lights and high hats. LED canless recessed fixtures, also known as all in one, wafer, low profile or integrated LED recessed fixture, make up most of the currently installed recessed lights. They’re used for both new construction and retrofits, install much faster, take up less space and cost less than the older style.

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Cost to Install Recessed Lighting Per Light

Average Cost$360
High Cost$480
Low Cost$240

Recessed Lighting Installation Costs

the average cost to install recessed lights is $240 to $480 per fixture

When installing in existing construction, recessed can lights or canless LED lights run from $200 to $250 per fixture for labor alone. For each fixture, the process takes about 2 1/2 hours at a $85 to $105 per hour labor rate. However, installing multiple lights on the same circuit and switch reduces the per fixture time significantly. In new construction, it takes far less time, since there are no walls to open or wires to fish. Extra costs can arise if the electrician has to install a new circuit or move obstacles.

Some costs involved with the installation of pot lights are:

  • Installing the lights: $200 to $250 by an electrician
  • Wiring the lights into the ceiling - $70 to $140 per light
  • Moving around any obstacles (heating ducts, joists, other wires): $200 or more per light

Electricians can provide a quote on the full lighting installation cost, barring unexpected issues. By reviewing the quotes, you can verify your budget will cover all necessary expenses.

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Cost to Install Recessed Lighting in Existing Ceiling

Most current installs in existing ceilings cost $200 to $300 per fixture using canless LED recessed lights. They don’t require housings unless you’re putting them in an attic space, where you’ll need to keep them spaced from the insulation. Traditional can lights cost an average of $360 each. Most installs need four to six fixtures, putting the total at $800 to $2,160 on average. After choosing the right electrician, they’ll place these fixtures by simply cutting a hole in the existing ceiling. They may also need to cut an additional hole for routing wires, depending on the placement.

Recessed Lighting Cost New Construction

The cost in new construction runs from $800 to $2,880, or $1,800 on average. This price reflects the average per can price of $100 to $300, though they can cost up to $500. New construction recessed lights often install quickly, since the walls are open. Attaching them to joists and running wires is far simpler without drywall in the way. Some pros can install up to 6 new lights per hour.

LED Integrated Canless Recessed Fixture Costs

Canless LED lights cost $50 to $150 per fixture for installation, not including the wiring it to any circuits. With all materials and wiring, expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per room

Cost of Can Lights

The cost of materials for pot light installs runs from $30 to $230. Housings range from $9 to $160, depending on their type. Trim and bulbs cost $15 to $60. Wire and other materials are about $8 per fixture, though it can go higher if issues arise. If the project requires a dimmer, expect to pay another $125 for its install.

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Types of Recessed Lights

There are two main types of recessed lighting in use today: can or pot lights and the more popular LED recessed lights. Both types come in a variety of styles and sizes, including 4-, 5-, and 6-inch diameters. Each style works best in a particular installation area. You can find them for sloped surfaces, shallow ceilings and even outdoor areas.

High hat fixtures also come in insulation contact (IC) and non-insulation contact (non-IC) designs to maximize safety. IC models can directly touch insulation without creating a fire hazard. Non-IC fixtures only work where there is no insulation since they do not reduce heat transfer.

Canless Recessed Integrated LED Lights

Canless LED lights, used for both new construction and remodels, cost $20 to $30 per fixture, not including installation. You can choose from a wide range of sizes, shapes, trim styles and colors. A few notable varieties include:

  • Low profile: $20-$30 each. They’re designed to fit in places a traditional can or pot style can’t due to tight spaces.
  • Smart home lights: $20-$50 each. They hook up to smart home systems or phones through a bluetooth connection so you can control the colors, dimness, and vacation modes while away.

Recessed LED Lights Retrofit Kits

Available for $20 to $50 per can installed, or an average of $35 each, LED retrofit kits easily install in older, existing can light housings. Expect to pay about $210 on average, or $120 to $300, to have six fixtures retrofitted with these kits. To complete the install, pros remove the old bulb and trim from each housing. Then, they clip the all-in-one bulb and trim in place to finish the retrofit.

Cost to Install Recessed Lighting in Kitchen

Putting basic recessed lights in the kitchen will cost you $1,440 to $2,880 for every six installed. Plan to place them every 4 to 6 feet to create adequate task lighting. The overall size of the kitchen will determine just how many fixtures you need. If the kitchen acts as the dining room as well, then plan to put in a dimmer if you want to set the mood.

DIY Recessed Lights vs. Hire a Pro

If you have the skills and safety knowledge, you can do the new or remodel install as a DIY project for between $30 and $230. If you have existing cans, retrofit LED kits are cheaper at $8 to $20 total and much easier to install. Even without existing fixtures, canless LED fixtures go in quickly and cheaply, although you’ll need to wire those lights in.

As they are part of the electrical system, recessed lights must abide by local code. Hiring an electrician ensures all the work meets those requirements. With that move, you can avoid fines and other penalties from inspectors. Pro installers can also quickly complete the work without damaging nearby materials.


What are recessed lights?

Recessed lights are fixtures that mount in the ceiling to sit flush with their surface. They illuminate the area directly below them without spreading outward much. For that reason, these fixtures work best in low ceilings or rooms with minimalist designs. They are most effective when arranged every 4 to 6 feet across the room. They are compatible with dimmer switch installs to create mood lighting where you need it.

What is the difference between can lights and recessed lights?

Can lights, also called high hats and pot lights, are one type of recessed lighting. The other, more popular type is the LED flush mount light.

How much recessed lighting do you need per square foot?

It depends on how the size of light you have and what you’re using it for. For best results to light an entire room, install at least six pot lights for every 250 square feet. Install each light every 4 to 6 feet at the max, though one every 2 feet is better. When designing your interior lighting, make sure the housings sit about 2 feet from the perimeter walls as well.

Can I install recessed lighting myself?

You can install recessed lighting yourself if you have the right tools and materials. You will also need to use proven installation techniques and abide by all building codes. Otherwise, the lights could pose a hazard or result in penalties from inspectors.

Does recessed lighting add value to your home?

Although pot lights do not have a huge return on investment, they are still a valuable addition. Their ability to improve the lighting in every room without impacting the ceiling design is almost priceless. If they use LED bulbs, they can also provide a return by decreasing energy usage. In addition, the LEDs last much longer, reducing the need for replacement bulbs.

Still Have Questions About Recessed Lights?
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