Good lighting creates the atmosphere in a room. Flexibility in the lighting will also help set the tone. It’s easy to adapt to low lighting in the living room when watching a movie but it can be a nuisance when the kids are doing home work or guest are over. So what are some of the things to do or look for when adding recessed can lights?

Here are some standard questions I ask a customer before I install Recessed Can Lights.

Some questions are generic for all can light installations, while others are room specific and tips for remodel recessed cans, not new construction.

The end goal when designing the layout in a finished room is no sheet-rock damage with the task areas evenly and well lit.

If attic access is available then the installation will be much easier.

This keeps drilling through the ceiling joist to a minimum since we can’t see what is on the other side of the joist like a plumbing pipe.

If a bathroom is located above then odds are there will plumbing pipes and the joist may be closer together due to extra weight. Nothing is worse than cutting a 6’ hole to find a plumbing pipe in the way. One way to prevent that from happening is with my flat head swirly screwdriver. I poke a small ink pin size hole and swirl it around to see if any obstructions are in the way. I also will bend a metal coat hanger and swirl it around in the shape of an upside down L if installing 6” cans. They have cameras with small heads but they are a little harder to patch the inspection hole if we relocate the can.

Standard sizes are 3”, 4”, 5” and 6” with 6” being the most common. When can lights are spread apart 6” cans are more ideal since the bigger hole allows more room to fish wires.

To fish wires I use a 4’ flexible drill bit which works in most cases. Using a 4’ drill bit takes a lot of skill and experience to keep it drilling straight. The 4’ bit will naturally drill upward and will drill through the upstairs floor. I did that when I was an apprentice. Needless to say that was an expensive day!

White is standard especially for 6” cans. 6” bronze, black and nickel usually are special order. Nickel, bronze and white are common in the smaller sizes.

The standard bulb is a br30 65 watt incandescent. Common problems are they are not energy efficient; bulbs constantly blow especially if you have kids running around upstairs and a lot of heat. The industry is now going to Energy efficient LED which draw 13 watt, have minimum to no heat and will last for years. Led bulbs come in different colors with soft white keeping the same look as an incandescent bulb.

This will depend upon the amount of light needed. In a kitchen it is best to have a lot of light with a dimmer to give flexibility. In a 9’ ceiling living room, 4 or 6 cans is generally sufficient dependent upon the size.

Yes. The dimmer will also need to be rated to dim LED and CFL bulbs. The bulbs will also need to be dimmable rated.

If yes, do we need to add a new wire for a switch?

This will prevent potential sheet-rock and/or painting damage by using a wire already in the ceiling.

The design stage is the most crucial to eliminate or minimize sheet-rock damage. So make sure your electrician is answering these questions.