Weekend Warrior LED Recessed Lighting Project

Weekend Warrior Series: LED Retrofit Lighting, Part One

This is the fourth post in our Weekend Warrior blog post series, part of our quest to bring customers unique products and creative ideas for DIY lighting projects around the house. We previously covered how to install security lighting, a custom pantry lighting solution, and creating a kid’s book nook with a wall mounted reading light.

Weekend Warrior LED Recessed Lighting Project

Since moving into my home in 2009 I have completed a number of lighting projects. In fact, I started a New Home Project blog post series documenting them. I am happy to report that a couple of those posts helped others with their own under cabinet and over cabinet lighting projects.

It has been a couple of years, but recently I embarked on two new projects with one overriding theme — Saving money by adding and/or replacing existing lights with LED. The first project that I’d like to share is adding LED recessed lighting to our bonus room to add more general illumination to this room, and the second one switched out our halogen recessed lights to LED. In both projects I installed 6-inch LED retrofits.

Project One – The Weekend Project

My bonus room’s general illumination came only from the lighting on our ceiling fan. For the size of our bonus room this was woefully inadequate. So, jump forward 6 years and we are finally getting around to painting this room and making it more than a “holding area” for random stuff. We decided it was a good time to increase the light level in this room with four LED recessed lights in the 4 corners of the room.

Bonus room with overhead light
Before we installed recessed lighting in our bonus room, our ceiling fan was the only light in the room.

When our house was built in 2009 I used PAR30 halogen light bulbs in our recessed lighting. At the time LED recessed lighting was still a little pricey and there were not many options. Now times have changed. LED recessed lighting, specifically LED retrofits, have come down in price and there a number of options available.

How did I add 4 new recessed lights to this room that had none? Our bonus room had a switched electrical outlet. I decided to turn the switched outlet into a standard outlet and use the wiring from that wall switch to provide power to the new recessed lights. This meant taking the electrical wiring from the switched outlet and bringing it into the ceiling. Thankfully, my bonus room is on the 2nd floor with attic access. While attic access limited the amount of cutting into our walls, to find the electrical wiring in the wall it still required some wall holes.

Needless to say, this is a somewhat complex project, and one that was beyond my skills. So, I brought in an electrician I have used before. My electrician handled the wiring, the cutting into the drywall along with some minor drywall repair after the project was done, and putting the lights in the ceiling. I bought the lighting and buttoned up the drywall repair. It took my electrician a day to install the lights and I finished up the drywall repair the next day. However, if you are comfortable with electrical wiring and some drywall repair, this is a project that you can do yourself in at least a weekend.

For this project, I purchased four 6-inch remodel recessed housings that were air tight and IC-rated for insulated ceilings since the housings are in contact with the ceiling insulation in my attic. I also purchased four dimmable 6-inch LED retrofits with a 65-watt incandescent equivalent. Since I like to dim my lighting, I also purchased a new Maestro C-L Dimmer to replace the standard switch in my wall that had controlled the switched electrical outlet.

Here are the steps we followed to complete this project:

Step 1 – Turn off the power to the room.

Step 2 – Determine the locations in the ceiling for the 4 new recessed cans and ensure adequate attic access to help facilitate installation. Cut the holes in the ceiling for the housings.

Step 3 – Move the wiring from the switched electrical outlet to the ceiling. Since there are four recessed cans, the wiring was lengthened to accommodate the 4 locations.

Step 4 – Install the housings in the ceiling and wire each housing to the power coming from the switch.

Wiring and installing recessed lights

Step 5 – Insert the LED retrofit modules into each housing.

Step 6 – Turn on the power to ensure the new LED recessed lights are working.

Step 7 – Turn off power, replace the wall switch with the new C-L dimmer, and turn the power back on. Make sure the LED recessed lights are still working and are dimming appropriately.

Step 8 – Patch any drywall repairs.

Recessed Lights in bonus room
My bonus room, where recessed lighting was installed.

The lighting in this room is so much better. In fact, we’ve found that we don’t even need the lighting from the ceiling fan anymore. Very successful project.

In my next blog post, I’ll show you how we retrofitted the existing halogen recessed lights in our kitchen to energy-efficient LEDs in under an hour!

Chris Johnson

I am the President & CEO of Pegasus Lighting. Beyond my day job, my professional interests include small business, technology, web design and development, operations, marketing, and social media. My personal interests include spending time with my two children and wonderful wife, reading presidential history and business books, and striving for my work | life balance.

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