By Kristy Snyder
The national average cost to install recessed lighting is between $214 and $307 per light, including labor and materials. However, your price might vary depending on the materials you choose, labor costs in your area, and other fees a professional may charge you for additional electrical work.
Recessed lighting installation cost:
National average cost range
$231 per light
Average low-end cost range
$214 per light
Average high-end cost range
$307 per light
Cost estimates include the national average cost of labor and materials but exclude any minimum labor fees a professional may charge.
Keep in mind these price ranges are national averages; they aren't guarantees. You should contact nearby pros to understand the going rate for recessed lighting installation in your neighborhood. Get free estimates from contractors in your area to have a better idea of what you'll pay. Keep reading to learn more about the other factors that can impact the cost of installing a light in your home.
What's in this cost guide?
- Cost breakdown for recessed lighting installation
- How to save money on recessed lighting
- Cost to DIY vs. hire a pro to install lights
- Is recessed lighting worth the cost?
- Who installs recessed lighting?
- Get price quotes from local pros
The following factors can impact the cost a homeowner will pay for a recessed lighting project.
On average, professionals in the U.S. charge $170 to install recessed lighting. Keep in mind this labor cost does not include any minimum service fees a company may charge. When requesting price quotes, be sure to ask for a detailed breakdown of all fees and expenses for your project.
Labor costs are a significant portion of the total cost of installing recessed lights. Electricians are skilled professionals, so they charge accordingly for their knowledge and time. The complexity of the installation, the number of fixtures, and the intricacy of your home's electrical system can all impact labor costs.
Additionally, professionals may have minimum service fees for installing recessed lights. This is usually a simple job for an experienced electrician. So, to ensure they're compensated fairly, they may charge a set fee rather than an hourly rate.
To get the best value for your money, get multiple quotes from different professionals and compare their pricing.
Prices can vary wildly for recessed lighting fixtures, trim, LED light bulbs, junction boxes, dimmer switches, electrical wiring, and other hardware. Premium or specialized fixtures are typically more expensive. It can also be more expensive to install dimmers.
Here's an example of how much prices vary based on quality:
National average material cost
Thermally protected fixture with basic trim ring
$44 per light
Thermally protected fixture with cone-style trim ring and simple design
$61 per light
Thermally protected fixture with eyeball trim ring or trim ring with brass-colored cone
$137 per light
By carefully selecting materials and getting quotes from suppliers, you can manage this aspect of your budget effectively.
To make space for recessed lighting, you might have to remove or replace existing fixtures. In some cases, it might be possible to retrofit the old fixtures, reducing your disposal costs.
However, if the old fixtures are incompatible with the new recessed lighting design, you'll need to account for the cost of removing them and any disposal fees that may apply. Ask your contractor for a price breakdown.
Standard drywall ceilings are generally easier (and less expensive) to work with. That's because they require less effort for cutting, drilling, and wiring, which can help keep your labor costs low.
On the other hand, high or vaulted ceilings, intricate ceiling designs, and ceilings made of plaster or other materials can pose challenges. This might require your contractor to use special equipment and techniques. It may also take them a bit longer to finish installing your recessed lights. All of these factors may increase your labor costs.
Does your ceiling need repairs before installing the new lights? What about after the lights have been installed? Be sure to factor all of this into your budget for this project.
Having existing ceiling light wiring in place makes it simple for an electrician. All they have to do is connect the wires and install the new fixtures.
But what if you don't have any wiring in your ceiling? Be prepared to pay more for the professional to run the wiring. You may also need to upgrade your wiring if it can't safely support the additional load of recessed lighting.
Some cities may require you to get a permit before you install recessed lights. Look into electrical codes and permits for your city or county.
Are you worried you may not be able to afford to put in some new recessed lights in your home? Fortunately, you may be able to save money on this home project if you look into these strategies:
- DIY where possible. If you're confident in your electrical skills and local building codes, consider doing some of the simpler tasks, like preparing the ceiling and drilling holes, to reduce labor costs.
- Reuse existing wiring. If feasible, reuse existing wiring to connect new recessed lights. This can save both materials and labor costs.
- Buy in bulk. Buy recessed lighting fixtures, LED bulbs, and other materials in bulk to take advantage of discounts and reduce material costs.
- Shop around. Check several stores to find the lowest prices on lighting. Do the same when it comes to hiring an electrician. Request quotes from several professionals so you can get the fairest price.
- Choose energy-efficient LEDs. This is more of a long-term savings tip, but it's worth mentioning. Opting for energy-efficient LED recessed lights is often more expensive upfront cost. However, they often lead to long-term savings on energy bills.
Doing this project yourself can save you a lot of money — if you know what you're doing and have the right supplies. You'll need to have a basic understanding of wiring, as well as the skills to make even and uniform ceiling cuts. More importantly, you'll need many supplies, including a:
- Stud finder
- Drywall saw
- Hole-cutting attachment
- And more
If you're starting with nothing, the cost to buy these tools and supplies could add up to more than you'd pay an electrician.
You also can't forget about meeting the local building and electrical codes. In addition to getting inspections and permits, you may also have to create access points, build fire-rated enclosures, or make structural changes. This won't come cheap.
Finally, because recessed lighting requires you to cut holes in your ceiling and come into contact with insulation, it can be a difficult project for the inexperienced DIY-er. If you make a mistake, the cost of having a professional fix your ceiling and install your lights will be far more than if you just hired them for the installation.
There are many benefits of recessed light, including:
- You can create a modern, unobtrusive aesthetic that can instantly upgrade your home's vibe.
- Recessed lighting adds the perfect touch to an accent wall where you want to highlight art.
- You can also save money and reduce your energy consumption with efficient LEDs.
But keep in mind that recessed lighting can emit a fair amount of heat. This can be dangerous if your lights are in direct contact with your insulation. You may need to choose insulation-contact-rated fixtures to prevent this, which can be more expensive.
Recessed lights also aren't a great choice if you see yourself wanting to adjust the room's lighting in the future. You can't easily swap them out for a different kind of light like you can with a traditional ceiling light.
Although you may be able to install recessed lights on your own, it's recommended that you hire an electrician for this job. Recessed lighting installation often involves cutting into ceilings and connecting wires, which can be dangerous and tricky.
You should also be aware of building codes and permit requirements in your city before attempting this project. If you're not an experienced DIY-er, consider hiring a professional electrician to help you complete this project quickly and safely.
As you can see, there's a lot that goes into recessed lighting costs. If you'd like to know what the going rate is in your area, download the Thumbtack app today to get free estimates from top-rated electricians.
All project cost estimates included in this article were provided by Xactware’s pricing data (unless otherwise noted). For more information, visit Xactware’s pricing methodology page.
*A note about project costs featured in this article: Figures represent national average cost estimates using data provided by Thumbtack pros and additional research. These figures are provided for educational purposes only and are subject to change at any time due to various factors. Details about your specific project and local rates can impact costs.