- Choose a location for the light. The light will need to be mounted between a set of ceiling rafters (the boards your ceiling is attached to), and clear of all heating ducts, existing lighting and vents, plumbing lines, and other obstructions. A device called a stud finder can assist you in finding these items in your ceiling.
- Choose an appropriate can light. There are remodel and new construction can lights. The remodel can light is such that the entire light can be installed through a hole cut into the ceiling to mount the light, meaning that it can be installed in an existing ceiling. A new construction can light will require removal and patching of a large section of ceiling drywall. There are also can lights designed for insulated and noninsulated ceilings. Insulated ceiling lights are designed to have thermal insulation in close contact with the light without any overheating. Noninsulated ceiling lights are usually slightly cheaper. If there is any doubt on the clearances in your ceiling, use the insulated-ceiling version of the can light. Choose a can light with the appropriate diameter based on the type of bulb/bezel you plan to use. Also assure that the can light you choose is rated for the wattage of the bulb you plan on using.
- Turn off the power at the circuit breaker for any electrical circuit you will be working on. Choose a location for a light switch to control the can light, and determine a source for power, typically an existing power outlet. When you choose the switch location, keep in mind that you will need to run a wire from the light to the switch. You will be mounting a "remodel" electrical box at the switch location, so cut an appropriate size hole with a utility knife in the drywall. Cut the hole, but do not mount the box yet. Pull a piece of 14/2 electrical cable from the nearest outlet or power source. An electrician's fish tape can make this easier.
- The can light you selected should come with a template for cutting the hole in the ceiling. Transfer this template to the ceiling, and cut out the hole. This hole can be cut with a saw, but a drywall router or rotary cutter will do a much neater job. It is important that this hole be cut cleanly and exactly, or it will be impossible to mount the can light. This is the most critical step to perform to accomplish a professional looking job. The can light is held in place with clips that press against the inside of the hole. Do not cut the hole any bigger than the template specifies.
- Pull a 14/2 electrical wire from the newly installed switch box to the hole you just cut. An electrician's fish tape can be helpful with this step. Pulling wire from a ceiling to a wall is a bit of an art form. You might need to cut and patch a piece of drywall to make the turn from the ceiling into the wall.
- Install the electrical box at the switch location. Pull both wires through the back of the box and strip the outer insulation off the portions of the wires pulled through the box (typically eight inches). Make the appropriate electrical connections to the switch and tie the other end of the power supply wire to a source of power at another outlet. Mount the switch in the box and install the face plate.
- Open the access cover to the can light, and insert the wire. Connect the appropriate wires per the manufacturer's instructions and close the access cover.
- Now insert the entire can light into the hole in the ceiling, and complete the installation. Typically the can is held in place by several clips which wedge the can in between the edges of the drywall. Make sure the bottom of the can is flush with the ceiling.
- Mount the appropriate socket/bezel combination to the bottom of the can light, and push the bezel flush against the ceiling. Install the bulb and test.
- If there is light leaking out from the sides of the bezel, a small amount of acrylic painter's caulking can be applied with your finger to seal this leak. Make sure the color of the caulking matches the color of the ceiling or bezel.
Things You Will Need
- Stud finder
- Can light
- Drywall router or saw
- 14-2 electrical cable, as needed
- Electrician's fish tape (optional)
- Wall mounted switch
- Wire cutters
- Wire nuts
- Halo lighting bezel, socket and bulb
- If you are adding can lights prior to drywall installation, you can use new construction cans. These mount directly to the ceiling rafters, and are easier to mount securely.
- For more details on wiring the switch and lighting, see the material suggested in the Resources section below.
- Typically, 14/2 electric cable, has three conductors-black, white and bare copper.