Installing Lights in Drop Ceilings

Installing Lights in Drop Ceilings


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Strip the ends of the cables as you did with the light fixtures. Bend the ends of the black and white wires into hooks with a pair of pliers. Cut a 3-inch-long piece of ground wire from the leftover cable.

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Change a Conventional Shower Light to a Recessed Light


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Trace an old-work electrical box onto the wall where you want to install the light switch. Cut a hole in the wall with a drywall saw. Place the hole between two wall studs, using a stud finder to locate them.

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Connect one end of the 3-inch ground wire to the ground screw on the bottom of the light switch. Twist the other end to the ground wires inside the cables with a plastic connector cap.

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Change a Drop Ceiling to a Regular Ceiling

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Barrett, Carson. Installing Lights in Drop Ceilings.


Drop ceilings are usually found in places like office buildings or schools, but there are reasons you may consider installing one in your own home. When a drop ceiling is installed in a residence, it is often used to conceal air ducts or pipes in a previously unfinished area, such as a basement. Many times, a hanging light fixture is not practical for a drop ceiling, but you can still improve the lighting by installing recessed lights inside the drop ceiling tiles. By installing a series of recessed lights in your drop ceiling, you increase headroom and direct light over a wider area.


Install an extra hanger wire at each corner of the tiles where the lights are being installed. Loop a 16-gauge wire through the eye bolts in the ceiling joists that hold the drop ceiling in place. Wrap the wire around itself three times to secure it, and loop the other end through the closest corner hole in the runner, wrapping it three times. The runners are the small metal beams which hold the tiles in place.


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Remove the ceiling tiles next to the tiles where youre installing the recessed lights. This provides you with the access you need inside the ceiling.

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Screw in the light bulbs and install the trim for the recessed lights. Replace the ceiling tiles that you removed.

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Hold a lighting can against each of the tiles where the lights are being installed. Trace the outline of the can onto the tiles. Cut a hole in the tiles with a utility knife.

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Slide the cables inside the wall into the knockout holes on the old-work box. Slide the box into the wall and screw it into place.

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The Family Handyman: How to Install Recessed Lighting for Dramatic Effect

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Remove a Dropped Ceiling With Lighting

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Install Recessed Lighting in a Finished Ceiling

Install the 2-by-4 bracing by placing one block at each end of the tiles and driving 2-inch screws through the runners and into the ends of the blocks with a drill.

Cut pieces of 12/2 electrical cable for the recessed lighting system and install them. You need cables between each hole in the ceiling tiles, between the first light in the series and the hole inside the wall, and the hole in the wall and your main electrical box. Do not connect the wiring to your homes main box or any existing wiring. A 12/2 cable has three 12-gauge wires: a white (neutral) wire, a black (hot) wire and a bare (ground) wire.

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Barrett, Carson. Installing Lights in Drop Ceilings accessed May 19, 2018.

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Drop ceilings have come a long way from the 1980s.

Removing Old Recessed Lighting From a Soffit

Hire an electrician to connect the lights into your homes main electrical box, and inspect the circuit if your local building codes require it. Most municipalities require that only a certified professional connect wiring to the main box as its extremely dangerous.

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Loosen the brass-colored terminal screws on the sides of the light switch. Hook the black wires onto the screws and tighten them. Connect the white wires to the silver terminal screws.


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Popular Mechanics: How to Install a Suspended Ceiling

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Wire and install the recessed lights. Read the manufacturers instructions for the lights you purchased, but the basic rule of thumb when connecting wires is to match colors. Strip 2 inches of sheathing from each end of the cables, and one inch of insulation from the black and white wires inside the cable with wire strippers. Twist the bare end of the white wire from the cable to the bare end of the white wire from the light together with a pair of pliers. Place a plastic connector cap on the wires, and twist it two or three times to tighten it. Repeat this with the black wires. The ground wire in the cable has no insulation, and the ground wire in the light can be bare or green. Wrap the ground wire around the ground screw on the light fixture (if it contains one), and twist the ends of the two wires together. Slide the lighting can into the hole in the tile. Pop the slots on the sides of the can out. These hold the can in place in the tile.

Place the wiring and light switch into the electrical box. Screw the light switch to the box with the mounting screws. Screw the plate cover into place.

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Barrett, Carson. (n.d.). Installing Lights in Drop Ceilings.

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.

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Install Can Lights in the Kitchen Ceiling

Measure the distance between the runners above the tile. Cut blocks from a 2-by-4 to match that distance. Cut two blocks for each light. Cut the wood with a circular saw, wearing safety goggles as you do.

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