How Much to Expect to Pay for Recessed Lights

Recessed lights are useful for ambient light or focused light in work areas.

Recessed lights are useful for ambient light or focused light in work areas.

Recessed lights are useful for general lighting needs in any room of the house, specific task lighting and ambient lighting. They can be installed in any type of ceiling, including those that are sloped. Outdoors, they can be installed under eaves and porch ceilings. The cost of having recessed lights installed in your home will usually range from $150 to $200 per light. The cost of the lights themselves and the work required for an electrician to wire the ceiling will most affect the price. The cost can be lower if you are able to do the work yourself, and can be much higher if your ceiling is difficult for an electrician to access.

Cost of the Lights

Low-end recessed lights cost between $20 and $60 each. Higher-end, low-voltage recessed lighting can cost $75 to $150 or more per light. Each light requires a housing that goes into the ceiling and a trim that covers gaps between the housing and the drywall. Recessed lights may be packaged in kits for do-it-yourself re-modellers, but the various elements -- including housing and trim -- are also sold separately. Depending on the model, recessed lights can accommodate incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs or halogen bulbs. Recessed lighting fixtures can be rated as air tight insulation contact (IC) or non-IC. Non-IC fixtures represent a fire hazard if they come in contact with ceiling insulation.

Wiring and Installation Costs

The cost to install recessed lighting generally ranges between $66 and $133 for each light. If the ceiling is already open, as in a home under construction or a room that is already being renovated, the cost will be on the low side of the range. If new wiring must be installed above an existing ceiling and if the electrician needs to contend with joists, heating ducts or other obstacles, or if the location is hard to access, the cost will be $200 per light or higher.


To keep costs as low as possible, it's important to plan your lighting layout before purchasing lights and hiring an electrician. Recessed lights generate less overall lighting in the room because they point downward and do not reflect off the ceiling like a normal surface-mount fixture. For a bright room, consider placing lights between 2 1/2 and 4 feet apart. If the amount of light you require in a room may vary, consider installing a dimmer or putting some lights on a separate switch.

Doing It Yourself

If you have experience doing your own wiring and your local building codes allow it, you can save a lot of money by installing the lights yourself. Most building supply stores have recessed light kits available for as low as $20 each. It's important to check with your local building code office to see what the code requirements are for your project. In some municipalities it is illegal to install new wire in a home unless you are a licensed electrician.


About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.

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