Tips & AdviceHow Much Does it Cost to Install Recessed Lights?

How Much Does it Cost to Install Recessed Lights?


Sometimes, the finishing touches throughout a home make it unique and personal for that homeowner. Features such as recessed lights provide a sleek design option for owners who enjoy modern fixtures and elegant stylistic choices. Recessed lighting can grow expensive, especially when selecting higher-grade lightbulbs and finishes. The following describes how owners can budget and install this submerged upgrade.

What Is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lights are a specific type of light fixture that can reside in any room throughout a home. Owners install this type of light on the ceiling instead of the wall, like a sconce or gallery light. Contractors will create a small hole in the ceiling, then insert the lightbulb and its trim so that the bulb lays almost entirely flesh with the ceiling surface. The submerged bulbs create the appearance of hidden lighting, and the bulbs cast a narrow or wide spotlight effect.

Recessed lighting is most popular in the kitchen, living room, or bedroom, as it specifically directs light into a designated spot. Homeowners who love to cook may place recessed lighting over a large island where they conduct most of their meal preparation. Those with a heavily decorated mantle and fireplace may install recessed lighting in that area of their living room. However, homeowners can get creative and install recessed lighting wherever they choose. Recessed lighting can help specific areas in a home stand out due to the direct lighting they receive.

How Much Do Recessed Ceiling Lights Cost?

According to HomeGuide, one recessed light costs between $125 and $300 for materials and installation. However, that cost can fluctuate based on how many lights someone wants, where they choose to install them, and the desired design. Depending on the size of the room, this cost can fluctuate. For example, homebuyers may add between four to six light fixtures in the dining room or add up to 20 lights and spend more money in the living room. However, some contractors or suppliers may offer discounts when ordering many lights.

The following additional factors can impact the cost of recessed lighting.

Ceiling Material

The current condition and material of the ceiling can affect the overall cost. As this style of light goes into a hollow space, that means a worker will have to cut the ceiling and reseal around the light fixture. Drywall ceilings are likely less expensive for adding recessed lighting, as it is easier and faster to cut into and reseal the surface. Hardwood ceilings are more complicated to repair, therefore, more expensive when adding these light fixtures. Installing recessed lighting in a drywall ceiling can cost between $50 to $300.

Homeowners with popcorn ceilings will need to hire extra help or take careful steps to remove the finish before adding recessed lighting.

Type of Trim

Trims help to distribute the light in different areas around the room, and different trims come with varying price points. Someone looking to add accent lighting to a space may select an eyeball trim, which adjusts and moves to direct light in a specific area. Kitchen recessed lighting may instead use a reflector trim to amplify light and add a polished finish to the entire space. Eyeball trim can range from $11 to $70, while reflector trim ranges from $5 to $90.

Existing Home vs. New Construction

Adding recessed lighting to an existing home will cost more money than adding to new construction. A contractor who installs recessed lights in a preexisting ceiling must update the electrical work and dig into the drywall or other material. However, someone building a new home can easily add in the recessed lighting before they cover the remaining space with the ceiling surface. On the low end, it costs $125 to install recessed lighting in an existing home, compared to $65 in a new build.

Type of Bulb

LED lights tend to be more expensive than halogen bulbs, increasing the total cost. On average, halogen light bulbs cost around $3 each, while LED bulbs can cost over $5. Homeowners who plan to use more expensive bulbs should budget accordingly per light fixture.

Labor and Materials

Another important factor to consider is the time and materials it will take a worker to install recessed lights. The more lights to install, the more expensive it will cost as that is more labor for the worker. Similarly, more fixtures mean more materials. Some contractors may provide a flat rate for an entire project, or charge hourly. Additionally, homeowners who need help fleshing out their vision can hire a lighting designer, which typically costs $85 to $300 per hour.

Other Costs Associated With Recessed Lights

While some might assume the costs will be the same to add recessed lighting to the interior of your home as they would be to the exterior, they actually can be substantially different. Contractors must weatherproof any lights that go outdoors, which drives up the cost. The type of bulb, finish, and level of electrical work can vary for outdoor recessed lighting and impact the final cost.

Why Homeowners Should Invest In Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting can become expensive, but it also adds value to a home. Those who plan to sell their property in the near future can benefit from installing recessed lighting, as buyers value this type of finish and appreciate the light payoff. Sellers can strategically implement recessed lighting in areas of their home they want to showcase, like above a standout fireplace or surrounding the custom built-ins in a walk-in closet.

Sellers can consider additing recessed lighting to the following situations.

Recessed Lights in the Bathroom

*Photo contribution: RealtyHop

Sellers with a larger budget may decide to add recessed lighting in the bathroom. In the above case, the homeowners added lights in the shower area and directly above the bathtub. This soft lighting brightens up the area and gently increases the visibility level. Sellers may also decide to add recessed lighting over the sink and vanity area. If a seller plans to add recessed lights in the bathroom, they should also add recessed lighting in the bedroom to create a cohesive design.

Recessed Lights In The Dining Room

*Photo contribution: RealtyHop

Buyers with large families who appreciate the value of a holiday gathering will appreciate recessed lighting in the dining room as it properly highlights the space. Adding recessed lighting to a dining room is also less expensive than a large living room as it typically requires fewer lights. Sellers on a budget may decide to implement recessed lighting in this room and use the money they save on other repairs or upgrades.


Homeowners and potential sellers can install recessed lighting throughout their property to add a more luxurious finishing touch. Recessed lights shift in cost but can become more expensive depending on the type of bulb and trib the seller selects and vary based on the quantity and area where they install the lighting. Those looking to install recessed lighting can consult with lighting designers to determine the most appealing options and will then hire a contractor to incorporate the lights into a new build or add them to an existing home.

Recent posts