How Much Does Recessed Lighting Installation Cost

Common Range: $165 – $450 Per Light Installed

National Average: $220 Per Light Installed

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Get Recessed Lighting Installation Cost Quotes
Updated: November 30, 2022, by: Steve Hansen

Cost Range for an ICF Foundation

The cost range to have recessed ceiling lighting installed is around $165 – $450 for each light, but it depends a lot on who does the work. If an electrician wired everything for can lights, and you’re just doing the “finished electric”, meaning you’re connecting the wires and securing the lights, the cost can be little more than the price of the lights.

When an electric line is run, and the lights are installed, then costs approach those we’ve listed. The costs don’t include drywalling a ceiling if you have to “tear it up” to install wiring. Of course, if you’re building a home or addition, then all the wiring should be completed before ceiling drywall is hung. If you have a drop ceiling, the cost can be a good bit less.

Average Cost

Average Do It Yourself Cost
$40 – $125 Per Light
Average Contractor Installed Cost
$220 Per Light
Typical Cost Range
$165 – $450 Per Light Installed

recessed lighting installed in a kitchen

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Overview of Recessed Ceiling Can Light Installation

Recessed lighting has a few different names including pot lights, can lights and high hats. This lighting type will save you money on your energy bill when LED lighting replaces incandescent lighting. It’s also one of the most common lighting updates after having your popcorn ceiling scraped down, or during kitchen remodeling. It can set the mood for a relaxed dinner or provide ample lighting for work spaces and more. Recessed lighting can be easily controlled using a dimmer switch so that you can achieve optimum brightness for the purpose at hand. Recessed and drop pendant lights are often used together in many areas of your home, most often the kitchen.

This recessed lighting cost estimate covers cost factors, retail can light prices and costs from reliable estimating sites and a chance for homeowners to share a few details about their project such as total lights installed and what they paid. Consider bookmarking this page of Costimates and returning to use the easy form to share your cost on this popular indoor project for the benefit of others.

Recessed Light Installation Cost Factors

Your recessed lighting price will be determined by a few key details.

  • Electrical and Wiring Needed – Do the string of lights need their own circuit breaker? This costs about $130 for a 20 or 30 amp circuit. Will you need new wiring to go with the lighting? This will add $15-$25 in materials and 2 – 3 hours of labor at up to $125 per hour. Keep in mind what other additions you might want on the circuit, such as a new towel warmer for a bathroom, when planning electrical upgrades.
  • Who Does the Work – On average the cost of hiring a professional electrician ranges from $85 – $125 per hour. It’ll take less time for a professional to install high hats into a drop ceiling compared to a drywalled ceiling. A licensed electrician will be updated on the code for installing can lighting and can advise you whether you need to install a new breaker with the project.
  • The Materials Used – The main components of can lights are housing, trim, bulbs, wiring, and optional dimmer switches. For each item there’s a range of choices. LED lights and full kits are the most cost effective option. LED lights are priced close to traditional light bulbs, but they can last 15+ years and are more energy efficient. According to energystar.gov they are 75% more efficient and last 25 times as long as traditional light bulbs. The size of the lights can be either 4in, 5in, or 6in. The larger lights will cost between $2 – $5 more per unit.

Pro Tip: Consider the installation location to choose the right recessed lighting assemblies. Insulation: If the area above the ceiling contains insulation, you’ll need to purchase Insulation Contact (IC) rated housings to be sure that your newly installed lights won’t catch fire. IC lights cost just a little more than standard can lights. Moisture: If the location is a bathroom or close above a kitchen range, than “moisture-rated” aka “wet rated” lights should be used. They’re on the middle to upper end of the price spectrum.

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Retail Costs for Recessed Can Lights and Supplies

Here are costs for the lights, supplies and tools.

  • $25 – $175 per housing  | Can Light Housing
  • $5 – $20 per bulb | Light bulbs
  • $17 – $50 per trim | Trims – Decorative trims cost significantly more
  • $30 – $200 per switch | Dimmer switch
  • $95 – $125 per light | LED Kits ( Including housing, trim, and bulb)

DIY Tools and Material Cost

  • $10 – $25 | Drywall Saw
  • $15 – $30 | Stud Finder
  • $0.25 – $0.90 per foot | Wire
  • $6 – $30 | Voltage Tester
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Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time

Permits and Inspection Cost

  • $0-$75 | No permit is needed if you are replacing old fixtures with can lights. But if a new circuit is installed, a permit is required An electrician will be able to tell you if a permit is required for your project in your local area.

Related Costs and Installation Time

Licensed, certified electricians are well-paid contractors at $85 to $125 per hour, often plus the cost of a helper at $30-$50 per hour. The more lights installed, the less time it takes per light.

Here are specifics:

  • 1 – 2 hours | Installing an electrical circuit and running wire
  • 10 – 15 minutes each | Installing a junction box, cutting and stripping wire
  • 15 – 30 minutes each | Installing the can, bulb and trim and securing it to the ceiling

Related Projects You Might Run Into During the Installation

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Get Recessed Lighting Installation Cost Quotes

Lighting can be a very impactful upgrade in your home. Especially in kitchens, bathrooms and basement areas where having plenty of light makes a huge difference. Explore these other projects at Costimates related to ceiling can lighting.


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DIY or Hire a Pro?

If the wiring and junction boxes are in place, then installing the recessed lights is pretty easy. Just turn off the electrical circuit and test the wiring in the first installation location with a voltage meter to be sure power is off. Then follow the instructions that come with the light.

When installing lighting in a finished location, running wire and installing lights is a lot easier and less costly in a drop ceiling than having to remove drywall to do it. Of course, if there are existing light fixtures, and you’re sure wiring is available, then it’s much easier to work in drywall without having to do damage that has to be repaired. Things to consider when installing recessed lights in a drywall ceiling include using a template to outline the light which is provided with the housings. Making sure the housing will clear any obstacles such as ceiling rafters using a stud finder, and selecting trim that clamps to the housing correctly.

Of course, in either scenario, if you’re not experienced in running wiring, connecting it on one end to an electrical circuit in the panel and on the other end to the light fixture – hire an electrician for the work to ensure safety and proper installation of your lighting.

Pro tip: When you install recessed lighting, you will have the option to make the most out of your new lighting with a smart internet access bridge. It connects via Bluetooth so you can control your lighting from anywhere. For a cost of $60 dollars you purchase this device that allows you to control your lights with a cell phone. You’ll need housing and bulbs to go along with the internet access bridge.

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Reviewed and Edited by Steve Hansen of Costimates

steve hansen of costimates-sm Steve Hansen is the Lead Editor of Costimates. (Learn more) An avid home improvement professional with more than 35 years experience in both DIY projects and working as a construction foreman in residential new home building, upfits, repairs and remodeling.

"Like most homeowners, I became frustrated with the lack of quality information available on specific home improvement repairs and renovations. In 2015, Costimates was formed to help homeowners learn as much as possible about various projects and their costs so they could make better financial decisions."