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How To Replace An Outdated Can Ceiling Light Without Rewiring

how to update an old recessed light with an LED kit for energy efficiency and style

Hello friends! I’m back! I take December and January off the blog so I can focus on year-end business details with clients and spend some time with family. Now that February is here, I’m refreshed and ready to show you more easy DIY home projects that will increase your home’s function, style, and value!

To begin this new year of home projects, I’m joining a group of talented bloggers to complete one room in five weeks! The goal is to spend less than $500 and show you 5 different DIY projects that you can incorporate in your own home. For this project, I’m overhauling the first room I should have focused on in our new home: Our daughter’s bedroom.

in case you missed it, we moved last summer. check out these posts about our new home:

Our 1924 California Bungalow: Full Home Tour

We Are Downsizing: Why My Family Is Choosing Life In A Smaller Home

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DIY can light installation

Today, I’m showing you how I upgraded our 1980s can lighting to energy efficient recessed LEDs lights without having to rewire anything! No need to call an electrician for this simple project. For the same price as a standard LED lightbulb, you can update your lights in under 10 minutes using inexpensive trim kits that should last for at least 10 years!

ENERGY USE: INCANDESCENT vs. CFL vs. LED

INCANDESCENT LIGHTS

For those of you who are younger, you may not even have heard of incandescent light bulbs. These were the original style of light bulbs that permeated the landscape for nearly 100 years. The science behind them was simple: They create heat which is converted to energy and that energy is used to produce light.

All that heat to energy to light conversion required a lot of manipulation within the bulb resulting in a much higher energy consumption than ideal for lighting a room. The other drawback to incandescent bulbs is that they produced A TON of heat. While much of that heat was captured to convert into energy, there was still a lot of heat being output into the fixture. This caused great concern that the heat could create house fires when the bulbs were left on for extended periods of time.

With all of that in mind, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 resolved to make more efficient light bulbs. This bill didn’t make incandescent lights illegal but did encourage the manufacturers of light bulbs to find new technologies that were safer and more efficient.

The result? The mass-manufacturing and implementation of two new technologies: Compact Florescent (CFL) Lights and Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights.

LIGHT BULB GUIDE: CFL VS LED (AND WHAT ARE INCANDESCENT BULBS ANYWAY?)

COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHTS (CFLs)

Initially, CFL light bulbs were immensely popular as an alternative to incandescent bulbs. Compact Florescent Bulbs use about 70% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and have an average lifespan of 8,000 hours versus 1,200 hours from an incandescent bulb. They were a major improvement to the lighting market as CFLs cost only $1 more than traditional light bulbs!

There are drawbacks to CFL light bulbs, however. For instance, they take a few minutes to reach full light capacity, glowing gradually more and more over time. As their lifespan nears the end, they also tend to not shine as brightly as they once had. While their heat output is nowhere near as hot as traditional incandescent bulbs, they also do release heat. So remember to give the bulb some time to cool off after turning it off and before attempting to remove it.

LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE LIGHTS (LEDs)

LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. The result is a fast source of light that is reliable, instantaneous, and able to be dimmed. They have no heat output, making them extremely fire-safe, and have a lifespan of 20,000 hours (ten years).

When they first hit the consumer market, LED light bulbs were incredibly expensive. At a cost of over $50 each, the LED technology was extremely cost-prohibitive for most people. It’s now been a decade since they hit the scene and the price of LEDs has drastically decreased to an average of $2 – $5 per bulb. Considering their lifespan when compared to CFLs, LED lights are a better investment over time.

With this availability in the new technologies, companies have created useful ways to use LED bulbs throughout your home. My personal favorite of the moment? LED can light trim kits that allow you to replace the entire light kit as easily as screwing in a light bulb! If you have outdated 6 inch can lights, you’ll be delighted to see how easily you can upgrade them to modern flush-mount recessed lighting!

click here for the light kit I used * affiliate link *
click here for the light kit I used
* affiliate link *

TUTORIAL: INSTALLING LED CAN LIGHT TRIM KITS

Step One: Turn off the light and unscrew your existing light bulb. Remember to give your bulb a few minutes to cool down before touching. Because you’re not going to perform any wiring updates, there’s no reason to turn off power to your fixture.

Installing a new can light trim kit with LED bulb - step one

Step Two: Remove the original light kit from the ceiling by gently pulling the trim down towards yourself.

removing an old recessed ceiling light

Step Three: Use your forefinger and thumb to apply pressure to the metal hinges, releasing them from the interior casing.

updating a recessed light

Step Four: Pinch the black hinges on either side of the bulb socket to release the entire trim kit from the lighting unit.

replacing+a+gold+can+light+trim+kit+with+a+white+one

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Step Five: Screw the light bulb adapter into the bulb receptor, clockwise.

installing a new LED trim kit is as easy as screwing in a lightbulb!

Step Six: Pinch the hinged brackets and slip into the recessed unit, replacing the ones you’ve previously uninstalled.

installing an LED can light trim kit

Step Seven: Gently push the trim kit unit into the recessed can kit until it’s flush with the ceiling. The tension of the hinged brackets should hold the trim in place. If your kit falls, pull it down and check to make sure your hinges are properly supported within the brackets.

installing a can light with LED trim

AND YOU’RE DONE!

This is the first project I’ve completed in my daughter’s room as part of the 555 Room Challenge and we love it! Even though her room is still a big mess, this update makes the whole space feel so much brighter and more modern.

updating lighting in a kid's attic bedroom

Click the images below to see what projects all the other bloggers are up to this week:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

555 Room Challenge.jpg

We still have four weeks to go in this challenge and I have a slew of DIYs coming up. Most importantly, I’m dedicated to determining a better clothing storage solution for my kid’s upstairs attic bedroom.

kids bedroom updates

Her current solution is a clothing rack on wheels and it’s just not working for any of us. So stick around and see how creative we can get with just $500!

SHOP INNOVATIVE LED LIGHTING IDEAS

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Commenting on this post is disabled so I can focus on our upcoming projects + client designs but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear from you. Send me your questions and comments on Instagram by either commenting on my latest post or sending me a direct message. I really love to chat it out!

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