How Much Does It Cost to Install Recessed Lighting?

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Reviewed by Salvatore Cutrona
Updated February 14, 2022
home kitchen with island and bar stools, wood accents, and recessed lighting
Photo: tab1962 / iStock / Getty Images

Highlights

  • You’ll pay up to $400 per fixture to install recessed lighting.

  • Your price will depend on the type fixture you choose, the condition of your ceiling, and whether there are obstacles in the way.

  • It’s best to hire a local professional electrician to tackle this job, at a rate of $85 to $105 per hour. 

  • Most projects need four to six recessed light fixtures to make a proper statement.

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Recessed lighting is a smart solution for illuminating that dark, drab corner of your kitchen or brightening up your living room plagued by low ceilings stylish and subtle, there’s no risk of bumping your head on these lamps. 

Recessed lighting costs vary—up to $400 per fixture if you’re planning to hire a local electrician to set them up—but less if you tackle this project on your own. Use this guide to find out which styles are in your budget and the factors that may influence the final tally.

The Cost to Install Recessed Lighting Per Fixture

Recessed lighting prices fall between $100 and $480 per light fixture, and $360 on average. This accounts for the cost of the materials and the labor required to install them. Additional factors, including wiring lights into a ceiling and removing heating ducts, can also have an impact on what you pay. Most projects need four to six light fixtures to make a proper statement, which will shake out between $800 and $2,160 when all is said and done.

How Much Recessed Lighting Can I Get on My Budget?

The larger your budget, the more recessed light fixtures you can install. But this project is still doable with whatever funds you have—it just might need to be on a smaller scale. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can get for different price ranges: 

$30 to $250

For this amount, you can afford to install several recessed lights without the help of a professional. If your ceiling is fitted with pre-existing recessed light cans, it might even cost as little as $8 to $20 per fixture to set up. 

$250 to $500

A slight bump in budget is enough to hire a professional to install one to three recessed lights in your home. Choosing inexpensive fixtures—such as can lights—will keep the final price on the lower end. 

$500 to $1,000

You can afford to hire a professional to install three to four recessed light fixtures with this budget. That’s enough to properly light a 125-square-foot space. 

$1,000 to $2,500

If you can afford four figures, you’ll have enough to install four to six recessed lights with a pro’s help, as well as extra amenities like dimmers and smart controls. 

How Much Does It Cost to Install Recessed Lighting Yourself?

The cost to DIY recessed lighting is about half as expensive as hiring a professional. If you’d normally pay an electrician $100 to install one light fixture, you’ll pay about $50 for the necessary materials and equipment to do it on your own. In the end, the final price will depend on the price of the light fixtures you’ve chosen rather than the labor fees. 

living room with wood floor, white couch, partial view of kitchen island, and recessed lighting in the ceiling
Photo: courtneyk / iStock / Getty Images

Recessed Lighting Cost by Light Type

When it comes to picking recessed lights for your home, there are a couple options to choose from.

Can Lights

Also known as pot lights, can lights are a type of recessed lighting that’s fixed within a unit in the ceiling and is shaped like a, well, can. Each can light is composed of three different parts: the trim, the lightbulb, and the housing (which sits inside the ceiling and holds everything in place). 

On average, the cost for all combined materials will be between $30 to $230. Here’s a quick breakdown of the prices for each of these elements:

  • Housing: Depending on the type—like airtight housing, which is designed to reduce unwanted airflow, or sloped ceiling housing—this part can cost anywhere between $9 to $60 per light fixture.  

  • Trim and lightbulbs: Trims are available in multiple colors and materials—from stainless steel to brushed bronze—and they’re what really brings a decorative flair to your light fixtures. Expect to pay between $15 and $60 total per fixture for both of these parts.

LED Integrated Canless Recessed Light Fixtures

These types of lights may be more expensive upfront, but may save you money and time in the long run. For one, low-profile versions fit more easily into tight spaces than can lights because they’re smaller and easier to install in tricky spots. And LED bulbs consume less energy, which means that using them may end up lowering your electricity bill. In general, they’ll cost between $20 to $30 per fixture, not including installation fees. Bluetooth-capable alternatives are a bit pricier, at $20 to $50 per fixture

What Factors Influence the Cost of Installing Recessed Lights?

There are a handful of factors affecting the overall price of recessed lights, including wiring, materials, professional services, and whether or not a ceiling already has a unit installed. 

4 cost factors for recessed lighting, with new construction ranging from $800 to $2,880

Labor

The cost for an electrician to install recessed can or canless LED lights will generally be between $200 and $250 per fixture. Professionals charge at a rate of $85 to $105 per hour and each installation takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours

New Construction vs. Ceiling With Pre-Existing Lights

Installing recessed lighting typically costs less if you’re working in a ceiling that has pre-existing lights. If this is your situation, expect to pay $200 to $300 to install each fixture and $800 to $2,160 for an entire project. 

Building lights into a completely new ceiling usually costs a bit more  in time and labor—it’s possible that you’ll pay up to $500 for a single light fixture and between $800 and $2,880 for an entire set up.

Materials

The cost for light fixtures ranges from $30 to $230 and will depend on which style you choose. 

Wiring

Wiring lights into a ceiling isn’t always necessary (if you’re working with a ceiling that has pre-existing lights, it probably won’t be). If wiring is necessary, add an extra $70 to $140 on top of what you’re already paying.  

Obstacles

Electricians typically charge more to install recessed lighting in locations that are blocked by obstacles such as heat ducts, joists, or wires from other electronic devices. Add another $200 if one of these is in your way. 

"Installing lights where there is access above the ceiling, like an attic or a crawl space, will be much easier compared to a lower level where the ceiling needs to be cut into and then patched," says Salvatore Cutrona, Expert Review Member and Licensed Master Electrician.

FAQs About Recessed Lighting

Is it better to hire a professional or install recessed lighting myself?

Though this is a project that’s doable for an experienced DIYer, there are a lot of possible issues that could arise for novices. In fact, you may incur a fine in some states if everything isn’t properly installed. When in doubt, turn to an electrician in your area to get the job done. 

How many recessed lights do I need in my space?

The amount of lights you need depends on the size of your home. In general, you’ll need about six light fixtures for a 250-square-foot space. To ensure everything is properly lit, take care to space each light a max of 4 to 6 feet apart. 

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