How Much Does It Cost to Install Recessed Lighting?

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Reviewed by Salvatore Cutrona
Updated November 7, 2022
home kitchen with island and bar stools, wood accents, and recessed lighting
Photo: tab1962 / iStock / Getty Images

Recessed lighting costs an average of $360 per fixture

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Recessed lighting is a perfect way to illuminate that dark, drab corner of your kitchen or brighten up your living room. Installing recessed lighting costs $100 to $480 per light fixture, or around $360 each, depending on your ceiling material, housing type, wiring, and more. Read on to learn the cost to add recessed lighting to your home.

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Cost Factors of Installing Recessed Lighting 

There are several factors that affect the cost to install recessed lighting, including labor, wiring, and the type of bulb you choose. 

Ceiling Material 

Installing recessed lighting involves cutting recesses in a ceiling, so the material your ceiling is made out of can affect costs. For instance, drywall ceilings are relatively quick and easy to cut through, so it will likely be less expensive to install recessed lighting on these ceilings than, say, hardwood ceilings. 

Housing Type 

The electrical components, bulb socket, and mounting frame of a recessed light are all encased in what's called "housing." There are several recessed lighting housing types, including airtight, can less, and shallow housing. The type you choose can impact your final costs. 

Trim Type 

The trim refers to the border area that covers the gap between the light's housing and the ceiling. Just as there are different housing types, there are also different trim types, like eyeball trim and reflector trim. Eyeball trim allows the light to swivel and direct to certain areas, while reflector trim offers a highly polished finish that reflects light. The former costs between $15 and $30, while the latter ranges from $10 to $60.  

Bulb Type

Recessed lighting is often compatible with a variety of different bulbs, such as fluorescent, halogen, and LED bulbs. Each of these bulbs comes with different costs. For instance, halogen lights cost between $3 and $12 per bulb, while LED bulbs can range from $5 to $50. 


The cost for an electrician to install recessed can or can less 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 two to three hours. 


The cost of a recessed light fixture typically ranges from $30 to $230, depending on which style you choose. This range doesn't factor in the labor costs to install them. 


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 to your recessed lighting budget.  


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.


If you're installing any new circuits along with your new recessed lighting, then you'll need a permit since this requires altering your home's wiring. Permits can range anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on the project and municipality. 

Recessed Lighting Cost by Type of Housing

Housing refers to the encasement of your recessed lighting's electrical components, bulb socket, and mounting frame. The type of housing you choose can affect costs. 

IC-Rated vs. Non-IC-Rated Recessed Lighting

There are two main housing types: IC rated and non-IC rated. In some cases, insulation can warp, melt, or emit VOCs when lighting is installed near it. IC-rated housing indicates that a light is safe to install near insulation, reducing fire and health hazards. IC-rated housing ranges from $7 to $100 per light, while non-IC-rated housing ranges from $6 to $90. 

The following housing types might come in IC- or non-IC-rated versions depending on the manufacturer:

5 recessed lighting costs compared by housing type, with wet-rated ranging from $20 to $100

Airtight Recessed Lights 

Airtight housing creates a tight seal that stops air from flowing between different levels of the home, improving energy efficiency. This housing type costs between $10 and $110, depending on the size and other features. 

Shallow Recessed Lighting

Standard housing cans are typically installed five to six inches into the ceiling. Some homes have shallower ceilings that don't allow this much depth, in which case you'll need shallow housing cans, which range from $10 to $150 per can

Canless Recessed Lighting

You can also buy recessed lighting that doesn't have a can at all, aka can less lighting. With this type, the housing is installed directly into the ceiling, which lets the light sit completely flush, offering a minimal, streamlined appearance. This housing type ranges from $15 to $130 per fixture.  

Wet-Rated Recessed Lighting

Wet-rated housing protects the light from moisture. This housing type should be used in any space that sees a lot of moisture or rain, like bathrooms, patios, and gazebos. Prices range from $20 to $100, depending on features and size. 

Vaulted Ceiling Recessed Lighting 

Vaulted ceilings refer to ceilings that aren't flat. These ceilings usually require recessed lighting to have vaulted housing for proper installation. Recessed lights for vaulted ceilings typically range from $20 to $75

Additional Costs to Consider 

There are several other potential costs to consider when installing recessed lighting. For instance, costs usually differ between lights installed indoors versus outdoors. 

New Construction vs. Ceiling With Pre-Existing Lights

Installing recessed lighting typically costs less if you’re working in a ceiling with 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. You could pay up to $500 for a single light fixture and between $800 and $2,880 for an entire setup.

Drywall Repairs

If you're installing recessed lighting in an existing home (versus a new build), you'll often need to cut into the drywall to do it, in which case you should factor drywall repairs into your overall costs. Drywall repairs cost $300 to $900, on average, depending on the project. Repairs due to recessed lighting installation will likely fall close to the lower end of that range. 

Indoor vs. Outdoor Lighting 

Outdoor recessed lighting typically costs more to install than indoor recessed lighting since there are fewer ideal locations, and outdoor lighting installations often require additional electrical work. However, you don't usually need as many outdoor lights to illuminate a space as you would need indoors. Outdoor recessed lighting ranges from $300 to $550, while indoor recessed lighting usually costs $100 to $480. 

Recessed Lighting Finish Type 

Although many people choose a white finish, you can often choose from multiple finish types for your recessed lighting. The type you choose can affect your price. 

  • White: $10–$25

  • Gold: $10–$45

  • Nickel: $15–$80

  • Chrome: $15–$80

  • Copper: $25–$60

  • Black: $25–$80

  • Bronze: $30–$60

Dimmer Switch Installation

Dimmer switches allow you to control the brightness of your new recessed lighting depending on the ambiance you want to create. If you choose to tack on a dimmer switch to your installation, you can expect to pay an extra $125, on average.  

Wall Panel Installation

Speaking of switches, you can install a wall panel that houses a variety of switches to control your home's lighting system, including dimmer and/or standard switches. Wall panels typically cost $50 to $100 to install. 

Cost to Install Recessed Lighting Yourself

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

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.

How to Save on Recessed Lighting Installation Costs 

You can save money by installing recessed lighting yourself. Pros usually charge $85 to $105 per hour to install recessed lighting, which typically takes at least two hours to complete. DIYing this project means you can skip labor costs altogether. 

You can also save money by installing recessed lighting in an area that already has existing light fixtures and wiring, since adding new electrical systems can considerably drive up costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

The number 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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