It is TOTALLY possible, to replace boob lights (or surface mount light fixtures) with canned lights! I’m not going to lie and say it’s a fun job - holding your hands above your head, rewiring in a cramped space, sprinkling insulation and sheetrock in your eyes…but it is possible!
No husband wants to tell their wife this is a possibility, because they know we will always pick recessed lights over boob lights.
Things to consider for your light selection:
* Design - Is this a Remodel or New Construction?
* Rating – Is there insulation in the area where the cans will be?
* Style – How broad of light do you want it to disperse?
REMODEL: The remodel construction cans have a slimmer design. A long arm extending from the can. The can comes with a template, directing you in the size of hole you will need to cut in your sheetrock. The electricians have fancy power saws to do this. But, a simple jab saw gets the job done. It doesn’t need to be the prettiest cut, because you will be placing a cover over the hole eventually. Notice the small black clips on the can – they secure the new recessed light to the sheetrock.
NEW CONSTRUCTION: A larger contraption. Its design would be very difficult to attach if sheetrock is already in place. To install this, you’ll need access to the studs (either floor joists, or attic joists). If you’ve stripped a wall down to the studs, then this is the route you’ll want to go.
Some cans are rated IC – insulation contact. If being installed in an area where there is insulation in the ceiling, you’ve got to make sure you get the IC rating.
You will find cans ranging in diameter. Most common are 3″, 4″, 5″, 7″. Some have housing so the light can ‘swivel’ while most are a straight downward housing. The smaller diameter cans creates more of a spotlight. If you are wanting direct lighting in a built-in shelving unit, a 3″ (or smaller) is probably what you want. In a hallway where you want lots of light to flood the area, you’ll probably want a 7″ can.
The housings range in price. I am not picky, and find that it’s not often I am sitting on the couch staring up into the cans wishing I had bought a more expensive one that had a white coating on the inside… It doesn’t matter to me. Therefore, I go with a relatively cheap option found at big box stores - in the $10-$15 range for standard sizes. The covers then run you that much again depending if you pick white or stainless steel, or fancier options. Most covers are purchased separately.
If you aren’t an electrician – or you don’t understand wiring, don’t risk a DIY on this. If you hire a licensed electrician to come in and do all the work for you – I think a reasonable estimate is about $150 per light. Price would obviously depend on
(a) where you live
(b) if there is attic access
(c) if he is running new wire.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
My example above – we simply put lights where the existing lights already were. This is obviously the easiest installation of the remodel can.
But, let’s say you have a single light in the middle of the room. Is it possible to add 4 cans in the ceiling instead? YES! It is possible! But, it might be a lot of work, and here is why… It all depends on which way your support beams are running through your ceiling. If you can run the wire parallel to the joists – the job will be so much easier. If you are picky about your light locations, it might (ok, it will) be a pain to cut into the sheetrock in more than one place in order to then drill through a floor joist allowing a wire to pass through. Just keep that in mind. If you bring in an electrician to do the work – they often point out the locations its possible to put a can. :) Lots of times this means, they don’t want to drill through floor joists…which is a lot more work.