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Recessed light fixtures are one of the most popular and versatile types of lighting today. They are available in a variety of styles and sizes.
As the name implies, recessed lighting fits into a cavity cut into the ceiling of the room, with the face of the fixture flush with the ceiling and the bulb mounted inside.
Recessed lighting can be used for general room lighting, to illuminate a path such as a hallway, as task lighting in the kitchen, or for directional lighting to accent a focal point in a room.
Recessed lighting consists of a housing (commonly called a can) mounted in the ceiling cavity. Housing labeled as rated for insulated may be allowed to come into contact with attic insulation without presenting a fire hazard. A number of different types of cans are available depending on whether they will be installed in new or existing construction.
A box mounted on the side of the housing contains the connections for wiring the fixture. A flexible metal conduit carries the wires between the box and light socket.
The final component of a recessed lighting fixture is the trim cover (also known as a baffle), which clips to the housing and fits over the opening. It serves to hide the rough edge of the hole and provide a finished look to the fixture. Baffles are available in various finishes as well as specialty applications, such as accent lighting or adjustable "eyeball" lights that swivel in any direction.
Once the housings are in place and the electrical connections have been made, the drywall ceiling is installed over the housings, and a rotary saw is used to cut out the openings. This is a much faster method with less chance of making mistakes than trying to mark and cut the holes in the drywall before the ceiling is installed. Once the drywall has been finished, and the ceiling painted, the baffle is installed to complete the unit.
Recessed lighting can also be installed in an existing ceiling. Start by determining the location of the ceiling joists (if you can get into the attic, you can see the joists). While in the attic, remove insulation and tap a nail down into the ceiling to mark the center of where the housing will go.
Complete the wiring connections to the fixture and replace insulation following the clearance requirements listed in the instructions. Finally, install the baffle and bulb.
To install a remodeling can, mark and cut the proper diameter hole in the ceiling using a drywall keyhole saw, fish the electrical wire to the opening and through the hole, then attach it to the house. Finally, push the housing into the hole until the metal clips lock it in place.