How to Replace Fluorescent Lighting With Recessed Lighting

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You might have decided to change out the lighting in your kitchen due to a change in your needs or just because you want something different. One change you can make is to remove a fluorescent light fixture and install recessed lighting, sometimes called “can lights.” The one determining factor to think about is the size of the electrical junction box in the ceiling behind the fluorescent fixture. Most electrical junction boxes are 4 inches square, so recessed lights with a diameter close to that size would work the best. Be certain to check your local building codes to be sure you do not need to hire an electrician for this project.

Things You'll Need

  • Step ladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Keyhole saw
  • Wire nuts
  • Electrical tape
  • New light fixtures
  • Locate the breaker that operates the fluorescent lighting and switch it off. Remove the cover to expose the light bulbs and remove them. Some will have clips that come out on the long sides of the fixture while others have hooks that swing out.

  • Uncover the ballast area by releasing the clips on each side of the cover. Locate the screws holding the fixture on the ceiling and remove them with the screwdriver. Depending on the size of the fixture, there may be screws located at the ceiling joists.

  • Remove the junction box from the ceiling with a screwdriver. Place the template for the recessed light on the ceiling around the hole made for the junction box and trace the outline on the ceiling. Cut the shape out with a keyhole saw.

  • Connect the black wire from the ceiling to the black wire from the fixture by inserting the ends of both into a wire nut and twisting the nut until it is tight. Repeat this with the other wires, matching the colors.

  • Insert the recessed light fixture into the new hole cut in Step 3. Secure it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Install the light bulb and the cover. Turn the electricity back on.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wrap the wire nuts with electrical tape so that the wires do not short out. This will increase your protection.
  • Remove screws that are in ceiling joists with a variable speed drill and a Phillips head screw tip.
  • Do not install light fixtures while power is on.
  • Do not leave tools unattended in the presence of children.

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