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With all the wires disconnected, we’re ready to bring the fixture down. There should be two screws about a third of the way toward the middle of the fixture holding the fixture to the ceiling. These are likely going to be long screws, so I recommend a screw gun, or make it an arm workout, it’ll be fun. You should have the junction box in the middle of the fixture and two holes about the size of a penny on either side.

Gently, rotate the bulbs a half turn until they release and you can slide them down out of the fixture.

Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician
Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician
Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician
Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician

We decided not to use the existing holes, for spacing reasons. But many times when we take a fixture down to replace it with a recessed light, we can use the existing hole for the new light. So, although we didn’t use the location of the previous lights, we still needed to take the junction boxes out so we could reuse the wiring for the switch for the new lights.

Behind the Scenes: Recessed Light Installation

We decided, like so many other homeowners, that we didn’t like the look of one big fluorescent light in the kitchen, so we decided to take it out and replace it with recessed lights. We loved them so much, in fact, that we decided to replace the chandelier over the kitchen table, through a formal dining room, and around the living room ceiling fan.

Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician
Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician
Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician

Once the middle piece is down, you’ll see an overwhelming amount of wires and a black box called the ballast. Typically, when a fluorescent light goes out, this is the part that needs to be replaced. The wires coming from the home’s electrical system are only ones we need to worry about for this. Remove the bare copper wire, or ground, from the ground screw.  Unscrew the the wire nuts and place the wire nut back on the wire coming from the home’s electrical system.

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We used LED trims, there are other trims available, but we really like the look of these in our home. The trim comes with a piece that screws directly into the socket of the housing and has a connector between the trim and the socket. Once the light is connected to the housing, the two torsion springs on the sides of the light fit into two hooks on each side of the housing. Then the trim just slides up into the house, and done!

Removing a Fluorescent Fixture

To remove an outdated fluorescent light, first, take off the plastic cover. The covers just snap on and off. Be careful of your thumb placement; I actually broke this cover removing it, but we were throwing it out anyway. Pull the top away from the fixture, and it should come off pretty easily, revealing the bulbs behind it.

To remove the junction box remove the screw holding the wires in place, and any bolts holding the junction box in place. Not every junction box is going to look the same; it’ll depend on when the home was built.


Once the junction box is down, we can get a better idea of where the joists are so we know which areas to avoid when planning our light placement. As always measure, measure and measure again. This project is one that takes some pretty specific measurements.

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We use a jab saw to cut our hole out and a shop vac to help keep the dust and debris to a minimum. Once the hole is cut and cleaned up, we put a phone up into the ceiling and take some pictures to see what's near our hole.

Next, the middle part of the fixture needs to come out. There are two tabs, one on each side holding this piece in place in three places. Squeeze this piece together and unhook it from one side of the tabs.

Before removing any fixture be sure to turn the switch off to the fixture to stop the flow of power. If you’d like to take it one step further, you can turn the light on at the switch and turn the breaker off at the panel, making sure that the light is off before beginning to remove the fixture.

First step: prep work. We took down all the fixtures and protected our walls, floors, and surfaces with painter's plastic and drop cloths. I would suggest putting up painter’s plastic with painters tape and laying down drop cloths before taking fixtures down to make cleanup easier.

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Each recessed light housing comes with a template so you can draw the circle on the ceiling where the cut needs to be. Some are stickers, and some are cardstock, it depends on the brand. We drew out our circles and took a step back to look at our spacing. Looks like a winner!

Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician
Austin Recessed Light Install - Can Lights - Pot Lights - Austin Electrician - Top Austin Electrician

Pros of the LED trims:
They last longer than a standard bulb
They're dimmable
Damp and wet rated so they can be installed anywhere in the home including above a tub or shower
They fit in standard or shallow housings so that they can go in practically any location

Our Halo brand trims come with a 5-year warranty

Removing a Chandlier

To take down a fixture with a canopy, like a chandelier, unscrew the locknut at the base of the canopy until the canopy drops down. You should see a brace with some wires behind it. Pull the wires out, so they’re easily accessible and unscrew the wire nuts, disconnect the wires and place the wire nut back on the wire coming from the home’s electrical system. Once the wires are disconnected, unscrew the screws holding the bracket to the box and remove the light.

The recessed housings make connections between the home’s power and the light since we just had one fixture currently in the ceiling we needed to pull the wiring from the old light to the hole where the new light was going. From the first hole with the wiring coming out of it, we also needed to run wiring to the second hole so that the same switch would control both recessed lights. Then each set of wire gets connected to the light fixture and the housing slides up into our hole in the ceiling. Each housing is a little different in the way that the wires connect and in the way that they secure to the ceiling. These have screws that when tightened open a flap that keeps the housing in place.