How to Replace Basement Lights with Recessed Lights

recessed lighting
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-800
What You'll Need
Drywall or keyhole saw
Recessed lighting fixtures
Electrical wires

Recessed lights are often overlooked as an option for basement lights. Homeowners are more likely to use recessed lighting over the kitchen sink and counter, or in the living room to create ambient lighting. There are even decorations where recessed lights are used in highlighting a work of art or ornament.

Basement lighting, on the other hand, is usually either track lighting or mounted on porcelain fixtures. If you are tired of looking at such a lighting setup and would want to use modern lighting instead, you do not have to call a professional in as you can do the task yourself. Follow these easy steps to replace your current basement lighting fixtures with recessed lighting.

Removing the Old Lighting Fixture

If you currently have porcelain lighting fixtures in your basement, you can remove them by unscrewing them from the ceiling box. Let the fixture hang from the electrical wires, but never touch them or the nuts that you can see inside the fixtures.

Remove the screws that are holding the black and white wires to the fixture and pull them out with pliers. Wrap the handles with a cloth or other insulators to prevent an electric shock. If there is a ground wire that is connected to the fixture, it should be removed also. You can then remove the porcelain fixture.

If you have been using track lights, remove the mounting screws on the inner part of the track channel. The screws are the ones that are holding the track to the basement ceiling. Take the track assembly off the basement ceiling.

Outlining the Recessed light Fixtures

To make a guide for cutting the fixture holes, mark the outline of the recessed light fixture where you are going to place them. Use the template that comes with the package. If there is none, you can use the fixture itself.

Cutting the Holes

Cut along the outlines you have made using a drywall or keyhole saw. Be careful when cutting. If you make a hole that is too big for the fixtures, you may not be able to install them.

Wiring the Fixtures

Install the wires from the power outlet to the fixture holes you have cut. Use wire nuts to connect them to the existing wires on the junction box. Be careful to follow the color of the wires when making the connection. Black should be connected to black and white to white. If there is a ground wire as well, you can connect a plain green or copper wire to a plain green or copper wire.

Connecting the Light Fixture

Return to the location of the fixture and pull the wires from the hole. Pass them into the junction box of the fixture and clamp them in place. Strip the ends and use wire nuts to connect them with the wiring on the fixture. Again you should follow the wire color code. If you are going to pass the power into the other recessed light fixtures, connect the end of the wire going to the next fixture to the wires that are on the junction box of the fixture.

Attaching the Fixtures

Put the wires inside the junction box and push the fixture through the hole in the ceiling. It can usually be secured in place with clips. Attach the decorative molding.