How to Replace Recessed Lighting?

Old recessed lighting replacement is an easy but important skill. Upgrading your recessed lighting can dramatically change how your home’s lighting looks and functions but it must be done well if you don’t want any problems with it in the future.

How to replace recessed lighting?

Replacing your recessed lighting involves two main steps – replacing recessed lighting trim and replacing the bulb itself. Figuring out how to replace a light bulb in recessed lighting depends on the type of recessed lighting you’re dealing with – New construction housing style or Remodel housing.

New construction housing in recessed lights means that the lights are very easy to install or replace if you have access to the space above the ceiling, i.e. the attic. That’s because these lights are bulkier and have a frame that can be affixed from above. These lights are impractical if you don’t have access from above, however.

Remodel housing is installed and wired from below. With this option, you’ll need to first wire the fixture and then push it into its socket.

Whichever model you’re dealing with, here are the basic steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the power from both the light switch and the circuit breaker.
  2. Unscrew the wing nut that holds the base of the lighting fixture. Then remove the bulb and pull the socket out.
  3. Get a new bulb and trim that match the model of your old ones. They don’t need to be the exact same brand or model but ones that would fit into the old installation. There are plenty of replacement models to choose from on the market right now so even if you need to replace square recessed lighting fixtures, you should still be able to find enough square alternatives.
  4. If you want to change the type of recessed lighting fixtures you’re using you might need to do some cutting. You’ll need a drywall saw or a hole-cutting drill, and you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve measured the parameters of your new lighting fixture precisely.
  5. Once you’re ready to install the new fixture, start by opening the attached junction box and clamping the wires coming out of the ceiling into it. Leave enough run in the wires to move them around as needed. Strip some of the plastic insulation off the wires if you need to and then color-match them onto the box with wire nuts.
  6. Before mounting the lighting, turn the power back on for a bit and use a voltage tester to check if there’s electricity going into the bulb’s socket. If there is, turn off the circuit breaker again, if not – the wires are not connected properly.
  7. Insert the housing inside the hole on your ceiling. Again – use Remodel housing if you don’t have access to the attic and New construction housing if you do.
  8. Attach the baffle and trim of the fixture next. There are different ways to do that depending on the model you have but it should be easy either way.
  9. Lastly, insert the bulb of your choice and the glass or plastic cover over it if there is one.


Blogger, editor, developer who loves green living. Interested in photovoltaics and solar lighting. Reviewing solar products since 2013.

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