Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to install recessed lighting?

$125 – $300 per can light
$700 – $1,650 total to install 6 can lights

The average cost to install recessed lighting is $125 to $300 per downlight in an existing ceiling. LED recessed lighting costs $10 more per pot light to install. The cost to install 6 can lights in a kitchen is $700 to $1,650. Adding a dimmer switch costs $55 to $150.

Get free estimates from lighting installers near you or view our cost guide below.

Reviewed and approved on February 4, 2021, by Tom Grupa and 8 expert light installers on HomeGuide.

Recessed lighting cost

Recessed lighting costs $125 to $300 per downlight to install in an existing ceiling or $65 to $175 per pot light for new construction. The cost to install 6 can lights in a kitchen is $700 to $1,650. Adding a dimmer switch costs $55 to $150. Electricians charge $40 to $100 hourly plus materials.

Recessed lighting cost - chart
Recessed lighting cost - chart

Recessed lighting cost
Number of cans Existing ceiling New construction
1 $125 – $300 $65 – $175
2 $250 – $600 $130 – $350
4 $450 – $1,100 $260 – $700
6 $700 – $1,650 $390 – $1,000
8 $850 – $2,100 $500 – $1,350
10 $900 – $2,700 $620 – $1,700
12 $1,020 – $3,000 $750 – $2,000

*Total installation cost.

  • Recessed lights are also called can lights, downlights, pot lights, and high hats.
  • Can lights cost 40% to 50% less to install during new construction when the ceiling is still open.
  • Old recessed light fixtures can be updated with an LED retrofit kit for $5 to $40.

Average cost to install recessed lighting per light

Average cost to install recessed lighting - chart
Average cost to install recessed lighting - chart

Average cost to install recessed lighting per light
National average cost $180
Minimum cost $65
Maximum cost $450
Average range $125 to $300

*Based on 764 project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Recessed lighting installation costs

Recessed lighting installation costs $125 to $300 per light, including $75 to $200 for labor and $50 to $100 for the can light fixture itself. Prices depend on the bulb, trim, and housing type selected, the ceiling style and material, and the amount of wiring required for the installation.

Recessed lighting installation cost breakdown - chart
Recessed lighting installation cost breakdown - chart

Recessed lighting installation costs
Item Cost per light
Can light fixture $50 – $100
Labor / installation $75 – $200
Total cost $125 – $300

*Minimum labor fees may apply.

  • Labor costs increase by $200 per light if the electrician must wire around joists or ducts within the ceiling.
  • Drywall repairs cost $50 to $300 to fix areas where the electrician cuts into the ceiling or walls to run wiring.
  • Interior painting costs $1 to $3 per square foot to touch up the walls and ceiling after installing recessed lights.
  • Dimmer switches cost $55 to $150 for a standard switch plus installation or $85 to $200 to install a smart switch with Bluetooth or wi-fi capability.
  • Lighting designers charge $85 to $300 per hour for an in-home consultation to create a custom lighting plan.

*Minimum fees of $50 to $250 may apply for paint and drywall repairs.

Cost to install recessed lighting in existing ceiling

Installing recessed lighting in an existing ceiling costs $125 to $300 per light and requires fixtures with remodel housings. The cost to install six can lights is $700 to $1,650 on average, depending on whether the electrician runs new wiring through the ceiling and installs dimmer switches.

Cost to add recessed lighting in kitchen

Installing recessed lighting in a kitchen costs $700 to $1,650 for six lights. High hats work well for task lighting when positioned directly over the sink and stovetop. Recessed LED lights installed under kitchen cabinets provide a wash of light for countertop work areas.

Use 4" or 5" diameter can lights in the kitchen to provide enough light for meal preparation and cleanup.

Remodeled kitchen with 8 recessed lighting cans installed
Remodeled kitchen with 8 recessed lighting cans installed

Cost to install recessed lighting in new construction

Installing recessed lighting in new construction costs $65 to $175 per light fixture. Recessed lights designed for new construction can only be installed on joists in open ceilings before drywall is added.

Recessed lighting housing installation in new construction
Recessed lighting housing installation in new construction

Electrician cost to install recessed lighting

Electricians charge $125 to $300 per light to install recessed lighting, including $75 to $200 for labor plus $50 to $100 for the fixture itself. Total costs depend on the ceiling height and type, if the room is prewired for lighting, and if the installation includes dimmer switches.

If the home's wiring is aluminum, ungrounded, or fabric insulated, it may need to be brought up to code before installing new can lights. The cost to rewire a house is $1.56 to $3.75 per square foot.

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Can lights cost

Can lights cost $6 to $90 for the trim, $6 to $130 for the housing, plus $75 to $200 for the installation labor. Prices depend on the type of recessed lighting, can size (3" to 6"), wiring requirements, and dimmer options.

Cost to install can lights
Factor Average cost
Can light trim $6 – $90 per light
Can light housing $6 – $130 per light
Electrician labor $75 – $200 per light
Wiring around joists and ducts $200 per light
Drywall repair $50 – $300
Paint touch-up $1 – $3 per square foot
Dimmer switch (standard) $55 – $150
Dimmer switch (smart/wi-fi) $85 – $200
Lighting designer consultation $85 – $300 per hour
Recessed lighting installers are available in your area. View Pros

Luxury kitchen with recessed can lights
Luxury kitchen with recessed can lights

Can lights cost by trim options

Can light trim is the piece that's visible and flush with the ceiling. Trim comes in different styles, shapes, and finishes depending on the light's function:

  • Baffle and reflector trims cast a wide beam of light.
  • Eyeball, gimbal, and wall-wash trims are adjustable to direct light at a specific area or focal point.
  • Shower trims are watertight and work best in bathrooms or saunas.
Can lights cost by trim options
Type of trim Cost Appearance
Baffle $6 – $60
  • Ribbed interior housing casts a wide beam of light
  • Reduces glare to create a softer glow.
  • Ideal for living rooms, hallways, and entryways.
Eyeball $11 – $70
  • Adjustable trim that swivels to direct light in a specific area.
  • Rounded bulb casing protrudes from the ceiling.
  • Ideal for accent or task lighting.
Gimbal $15 – $90
  • Adjustable trim that tilts and rotates to cast a wide beam of light in one direction.
  • Flat bulb casing remains flush with the ceiling.
  • Ideal for accent walls or sloped ceilings.
Reflector $5 – $90
  • Polished finish on the interior reflects and amplifies light.
  • Ideal for kitchens and rooms with high ceilings.
Wall wash $15 – $65
  • A shield covers half the bulb to direct light to a specific spot.
  • Ideal for highlighting artwork or architectural features.
Shower trim $12 – $80
  • Watertight and covered with a tempered glass lens for safety in the shower, bathroom, or sauna.

When purchasing recessed lighting trim and housings separately, confirm the pieces are compatible and sized to match each other. Not all components are compatible, especially when retrofitting older fixtures.

Can light housing prices by type

Can lights feature housings made specifically for new construction or remodels and come in styles designed for flat, shallow, sloped, or low ceilings and outdoor areas. Airtight housings are sealed to prevent airflow between floors, improving energy efficiency.

High hat light housings are rated for insulation contact (IC) or non-insulation contact (non-IC). IC-rated fixtures can come into direct contact with insulation without causing a fire. Some cities mandate the use of IC-rated fixtures for safety.

Recessed lighting housing prices
Type of housing Cost per can Usage
New construction $7 – $100 Installed when the house is built.
Remodel $10 – $130 Installed in an existing ceiling.
IC-rated $7 – $100 For installation in ceilings where insulation will come in contact with the can.
Non-IC-rated $6 – $90 For installation in ceilings where insulation is at least 3" away from the can.
Airtight $7 – $90 Sealed to prevent airflow between floors, improving energy efficiency.
Shallow $6 – $100 Designed for ceilings with only 2" to 4" between the joists.
Slope $20 – $120 Angled housing allows lights to be placed inside a sloped ceiling.

Can light sizes

Recessed lights come in 3", 4", 5", and 6" diameters:

  • 3" and 4" can lights are cheaper, use less energy, and work well in small spaces like walk-in closets or laundry rooms or to accent artwork or a focal point.
  • 5" and 6" can lights produce a wide, even wash of light and are recommended for larger rooms like living rooms and kitchens or rooms with higher ceilings.

LED recessed lighting installation cost

LED recessed lighting installation costs $135 to $310 per light for new LED downlights or $5 to $40 per light for a retrofit kit to update existing can lights with low-voltage LED or CFL bulbs. Installing a dimmer switch costs an additional $55 to $150 on average.

Advantages of LED recessed lights:

  • Use less electricity
  • Produce little heat
  • Available in ultra-slim and color-changing models
  • Last 50,000 hours, 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs and 8 to 10 times longer than compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Some LED bulbs are dimmable. To use a dimmer switch, look for dimmable LED bulbs and an LED-compatible switch.

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Cost to replace recessed lights

Retrofit kits to replace recessed lights cost $5 to $40. Retrofit kits feature clips that snap into the existing housing and an adapter that screws into the empty bulb socket to make old can lights compatible with energy-efficient LED bulbs.

For a quick and inexpensive way to update the look of old can lights, replace the trim piece with a new style.

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Outdoor pot and soffit lighting cost

Outdoor soffit lighting installation costs $75 to $250 per light. Outdoor canister lights are installed under the eaves of a house and are rated to resist rain, storms, and extreme temperatures. Soffit lighting adds security and accentuates a home's architectural features.

RGB LED soffit lights include a color-changing feature, allowing homeowners to change the mood of the home's exterior.

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What is recessed lighting?

Recessed lights – also called can lights, pot lights, high hats, or downlights – mount inside the ceiling with the housing hidden from view. Can lights are often used for task lighting or accent lighting but cast light over a wider area when paired with a baffle or reflector trim.

How much does it cost to install 6 can lights?

The average cost to install six can lights is $700 to $1,650 for remodel housings or $390 to $1,000 for recessed light housings designed for new construction.

How long does it take to install recessed lighting?

Recessed lighting installation takes 30 minutes to 2 hours per can light by a licensed electrician.

How many recessed lights do I need per square foot?

Recessed lighting designers recommend a minimum of one pot light per 25 square feet of living space. Lights with deeply recessed bulbs instead of bulbs that are flush with the ceiling typically require more lights.

How far apart should recessed lights be?

Recessed lights should be placed 4 to 6 feet apart, depending on the bulb size, ceiling height, and the location of ceiling joists.

  • Position can lights at least 2' to 3' away from walls to avoid creating shadows that make the ceiling look lower.
  • Divide the ceiling height by two to determine how far apart to place recessed lights. For example, if the ceiling is 8' high, place lights 4' apart.
  • Use the bulb diameter to calculate the ideal spacing between recessed lights. Place 4" bulbs at least 4' apart and 6" bulbs 6' apart.
  • Install task lights for reading areas, sinks, and stovetops directly overhead.

Does recessed lighting add value to a house?

Recessed lighting does not add monetary value to a home but brightening a room with can lights increases its appeal to potential buyers.

What is the difference between can lights and recessed lights?

There is no difference between can lights and recessed lights. Can lights and recessed lights are also called downlights, pot lights, high hats, and canister lights.

Do I need an electrician or can a handyman install recessed lighting?

Installing recessed lighting requires an electrician with wiring experience and knowledge of local building codes for IC-rated light fixtures. Handymen are typically not licensed and don't have the electrical experience required. Many cities also require a permit for lighting installations.

Still have questions? Consult with local can light installers. View Pros

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DIY recessed lighting costs and considerations

DIY recessed lighting costs $50 to $150 per light for materials. However, DIY projects requiring electrical work are dangerous. Hiring a licensed electrician is the safest option for homeowners without extensive wiring and electrical experience.

  • Many cities require permits for all new electrical wiring. Check local regulations to find out if a permit is needed.
  • For safety, look for insulation-contact (IC) rated can lights. If insulation touches a non-IC rated fixture, it may cause a fire.
  • Confirm the recessed light housing and trim you selected are compatible.
Electricians obtain the necessary permits, advise about the best size and placement for lighting fixtures, and ensure the project is completed safely.

How to install recessed lighting

  1. Sketch a lighting plan or consult with a lighting designer to decide where to position each fixture for the best light distribution.
  2. Use a stud finder to identify the location of all ceiling joists so the lighting holes do not overlap the joists.
  3. Turn off power to the room at the main circuit breaker box, then use a voltage tester to confirm the electricity is off.
  4. Use the manufacturer's template or measure and draw a circle on the ceiling for each opening.
  5. Drill a 1/4" hole in the ceiling at the center of each opening, then use a drywall saw to cut the holes.
  6. Pull the cable from the power source to the switch box nearest the lights, then to the first hole.
  7. If installing multiple lights, use fish tape to pull the cable from hole to hole.
  8. Attach a cable connector to the light's junction box and insert the cable.
  9. Strip a few inches of insulation from the end of the cable, then connect the wires by matching black wire to black wire, white to white, and ground to ground (copper or green).
  10. Cap the connections, fold the wires carefully into the box, and replace the cover.
  11. Mount the housing inside the hole according to the manufacturer's instructions. Most housings have four metal clips that clamp into the ceiling.
  12. Add the trim piece and use the squeezable springs to snap it into position.
  13. Install the light bulbs.
  14. Turn the power back on and confirm the lights are working.
Before DIY? Get free estimates from lighting contractors. View Pros

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Hiring a recessed lighting installer

A residential electrician ensures recessed light fixtures are correctly sized and spaced to produce balanced lighting. Before hiring an electrician and signing a contract:

  • Get at least three in-person estimates to compare.
  • Search for licensed electricians with experience installing recessed lighting.
  • Look at their reviews on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for longer than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Ask for a written contract and warranty.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

Questions to ask

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How many recessed lighting installations have you handled?
  • How many lights do you recommend for my space, and where should they be placed?
  • Are the light fixtures UL listed?
  • Can you provide references of past work?
  • Does the estimate include all materials and labor fees? What additional costs can I expect?
  • Do I need a permit, and will you pull them?
  • What are your payment terms and schedule?
  • Do you offer a warranty on your work?
  • How long will the installation take?

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