Tutorial: how to install LED recessed lighting retrofit kit

Converting your older, incandescent recessed lights to LEDs is a fantastic way of saving money and giving your home a more modern, up-to-date look. LED lighting looks great, and has the ability to drastically improve your energy budget due to its superior longevity and energy efficiency compared to older forms of lighting technology. Retrofitting your LED recessed lights can be a bit of a hassle though, and that’s where we come in to help you with this led recessed lighting retrofit tutorial post. Read on as we take you step by step through the process of installing LED recessed lighting retrofits.

A light emitting diode, or LEDs, is a device made up of a semiconductor material that converts electrical energy into light that can be utilized by our homes and businesses. A voltage is applied to the semiconductor material, and electrons are ‘liberated’ from the surface of the material and enter into electron ‘holes’ where they emit particles of light energy known as photons. Though the first LEDs appeared on the market more than 50 years ago, it is only in the last couple of decades that they have really taken off. Indeed, the older incandescent and fluorescent lights that dominated the lighting market for years are slowly being phased out in favor of LEDs. This is good news, because LEDs are far more energy efficient and longer lasting than these forms of lighting technology, and thus a lot better for the natural environment due to the reduced quantity of carbon dioxide emitted as a byproduct of their use. LEDs are also made from materials that are fully recyclable, so there are fewer resources to be expended in their manufacture and disposal as well.

Another added benefit of LED lights is that they can in many cases be retrofitted onto pre-existing lighting fixtures so that you don’t have to refurbish your home’s entire lighting design when switching over to these lights. In this post we look at recessed lights, and how they can be retrofitted to be compatible with LED lighting.

Can your recessed lighting be converted to LEDs?

Before anything else though, before you even go out and buy your brand spanking new LED units, you need to work out whether your recessed lighting can be converted over to LEDs or not. One of the most common problems you will encounter here concerns the light’s mounting springs. Usually LED recessed lighting retrofits to make use of a ‘v’-shaped torsion spring to secure the LED light to the housing within your ceiling. The springs fit between a pair of brackets on the inner surface of the housing. If your already existing trims employ an alternative mounting method, the recessed lights might be incompatible with an LED retrofit kit. If that holds true, then you will have to replace your recessed lights with universal ones before you install your LED units.

To check, take out the bulb from your recessed light. Pull down upon the trim with your fingers and find out how it’s attached. And if there are ‘v’ shaped torsion type springs there, you fixture is compatible with LEDs and you are ready to proceed. But if not, then take out the trim to be able to see the housing. Be on the lookout for a pair of brackets attached on either side. If you find them, then again you are good to go. If they are not there, you will need to replace your fixture with one of the universal types. Having done that, you will then probably be good to go!

Step by step guide to retrofitting your recessed lights to LEDs

Here is a summary of what you need to do install your LED lights in your existing recessed light fixture

  • First step: get up onto a ladder and take out the bulb from your recessed lighting fixture. Using your fingers, pull down on the trim and take it out
  • Second step: if you recessed light makes use of a lamp holder, then adjust the holder or take it out to make sufficient room for your LED unit
  • Third step: Screw your adaptor into the now empty socket of the light bulb, and then plug in your LED unit
  • Fourth step: Find the v-shaped torsion springs to which the trim was previously attached, and then insert them inside the brackets contained within the housing, then push your LED light up into place

And there you have it! Turn the switch on and appriciate your brand new, ultra-bright recessed LED lighting retrofit. As you can see the installation process for you LED retrofit is ultra simple, it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes; moreover, hardly any tools are required, and the LED unit you use will all come in the one piece as well so no pre-assembly is required. Another benefit is that because the LED retrofit is so easy to install, it will be equally easy to uninstall – that’s not to say that you will have to replace your LED recessed retrofit very often, as LEDs are well known to have an extremely long lifespan (35,000 hours to 50,000 hours by some estimates). No, the ease of uninstalling your LED retrofit will come in handy if – or when – more evolved technology hits the LED lighting market a few years down the track, for in that case, it will then be extremely easy to update your recessed lighting fixtures accordingly.


Follow the steps presented in this post, and convert your incandescent or fluorescent recessed lights over to LEDs in a matter of minutes and with minimal tools. Before you know it you will be enjoying sleek, modern looking, cost-effective and ultra long-lasting LED recessed lights in your home. Given the economic and environmental benefits to be had from using LED lighting, doing an LED retrofit on your recessed lighting is really a no-brainer.


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

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