How To Replace Square Recessed Lighting

Kellan Jansen
by Kellan Jansen
Recessed lights can be an excellent addition to your home. They’re a good fit for hallways, kitchens, and virtually anywhere else you need light. However, your recessed lights won’t last

Recessed lights can be an excellent addition to your home. They’re a good fit for hallways, kitchens, and virtually anywhere else you need light.

However, your recessed lights won’t last forever. You’re going to have to repair or replace them periodically. If you’re wondering how to do that, you’ve come to the right place.

To replace square recessed lighting, you first need to remove the existing ceiling light. Then, cut a new opening in the ceiling if needed. Connect the wires on the recessed light and finish up by installing the new recessed light into your ceiling. This is all it takes to replace your dim outdated square recessed lights with bright new ones.

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What are Recessed Lights?

Recessed lights differ from other types of lighting in the way that it’s installed. Recessed lights are installed directly inside of a ceiling or wall. This enables them to provide your home with a sleek, modern appearance.

Most recessed fixtures are made out of three different parts:

  • Housing
  • Trim
  • Bulb

Housing refers to the bulk of the fixture. It’s the part that’s hidden within your wall and ceiling as well as the part that contains the necessary electrical connections of the light.

Trim is the word used to describe the visible portion of the fixture. This is often decorative and may include baffles, reflectors, or shades.

The final component, called the bulb, is the part of a recessed light that produces light. When put together, these three components give homeowners a stylish way to satisfy their home lighting needs.

What Do I Need to Replace Square Recessed Lights?

The first step to replacing your old recessed lights is gathering the tools and materials needed to get the job done. You won’t need too much to complete this job. Here’s a complete list:

How to Replace Square Recessed Lighting

Once you’ve gathered all of your tools and materials, you’re ready to get started on replacing your old recessed lights. Doing so won’t be too complicated for most DIYers. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to get the job done:

1. Remove the Existing Ceiling Light

Before doing this, you’re going to want to turn off the circuit breaker that powers the light. Once you’ve done that, try to turn the light on and off a few times just to be sure that the power to it is really turned off.

Next, use a ladder to approach the light and remove the dome or shade once you get there. After that, you can remove the fixture’s light bulb.

The next step will require your cordless screwdriver. Use it to unscrew the screws that are holding the housing to the upper electrical box. You can use your voltage at this point to ensure the wires within the electrical box pose you no danger.

Finally, finish this part of the process by unscrewing all of the wire nuts between the source wires and the light fixture wires. You’ll also want to untwist all of the wires and separate them.

2. Retain the Existing Electrical Box

It’s easier to simply install your new square recessed lights where the old ones used to be. If that’s what you plan to do, make sure that you keep the existing electrical box intact to make the rest of the process easier on yourself.

3. If Needed, Cut a New Opening in the Ceiling

You may or may not need to complete this step depending on the width of your new fixture. If it’s the same as the old one, proceed to step four.

If you do need to increase the size of your opening, start by measuring it with a tape measurer. This will tell you how much of your drywall you need to cut away.

We recommend making the cut with a hole saw. However, there are several different power tools that will get the job done. Feel free to use whichever you feel is best.

If the previous hole is too large, then it will be very difficult to reduce the hole’s width to fit your new fixture properly. A better strategy would be to simply cut another hole and patch the existing one completely.

4. Connect the Wires to the Recessed Light

Your next step is to punch out the metal plate that covers the box’s access hole with your screwdriver. Then, install a wire clamp on the box.

The goal is to put the wires down without stressing them too much. This can be done by pushing the wires gently into the hole of the recessed light’s box.

Once you’ve done that, you can screw the clamp down onto the cable. Do so tightly to ensure a strong connection. Finally, connect all the wires and then twist them together with the wire nut.

5. Install the Recessed Light in the Ceiling

First, you should insert the electrical box into the ceiling. After that, rotate the light in a C-shaped or hooking motion until it’s completely inside of the ceiling. You should continue pushing on the light until the brackets on the cone portion of the light sit flush with your drywall.

Next, snap each of the ceiling clips on the light downward. Each of them should be making contact with the drywall.

Once you’ve completed that, you can attach the light module to the wires in the light housing. Push the bulb up into the housing, tuck away the wires, and turn the circuit breaker back on. If you’ve done everything properly, your new square recessed lights should be working perfectly.

Recessed Lights or Ceiling Lights?

Before you replace your old square recessed lights with new ones, you may want to consider whether another option is a better fit. You might be interested in installing ceiling lights instead.

Ceiling lights have several benefits. They cast light over a wider area than recessed lights and offer many different options for customization. This gives you more control over the appearance of your home’s lights.

Recessed lights, on the other hand, provide a sleek look without many options for customization. They can make your room and feel bigger than it is. They can also illuminate your entire room instead of just the middle of it.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong choice between recessed and ceiling lights. Your choice should come down to personal preference. That being said, recessed lights are usually best on low ceilings, while ceiling lights can work better in large rooms with high ceilings.

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Related Questions

How much do square recessed lights cost?

You can typically expect to pay around $150 to $200 per fixture and associated wiring. This is about the same as you would pay for ceiling lights. However, recessed lights give your home a sleeker look, which can add value to it.

How many recessed lights do you need per square foot?

Most experts recommend installing one recessed light every 4 to 6 square feet of ceiling space. Installing this many lights will give your rooms even illumination.

How should recessed lights be arranged?

The best strategy is to align your recessed lights evenly across the length of your ceiling. Some homeowners try to cluster recessed lights near objects in the room like furniture. However, doing this will create uneven illumination.

Kellan Jansen
Kellan Jansen

Kellan is a content writer who specializes in everything DIY. When he's not behind the keyboard, he enjoys spending time with his pets, playing music, and geeking out about basketball. He hopes to make your home improvement projects a little bit easier to accomplish.

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