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How to Get More Out of Your Recessed Cans

How to Get More Out of Your Recessed Cans

Posted by Chris Johnson on Nov 9th 2015

Converting a recessed light fixture into a hanging light (or pendant light) is not only possible, but it's a pretty straightforward project that you can most likely do yourself in just a weekend.

So how can you make this happen?

First, choose your pendant lights based on where they'll hang in your space. If you're going to put them over a counter, kitchen island, or table, you can choose ones that will hang slightly lower. This will provide bright task lighting without getting in the way. If you plan to install them in hallways or open areas, pick lights that will hang very close to the ceiling so they don't eat up your headroom.

To install the pendant lights in your recessed cans, you'll need the following:

  • Recessed light converter kit
  • Small vanity plate to cover the old recessed hole in your ceiling
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter's tape
  • Ladder
  • Circuit tester

Before you begin, make sure your city doesn't have any codes requiring a licensed electrician to perform the conversion.

Here's how you convert the light:

  1. Turn off the power to each light you're working on by switching off the circuit breaker.
  2. Remove the old recessed can. Twist out the light bulb, remove the casing, and release the clips. You should then see the socket hanging down from the hole.
  3. Install your converter, following the kit's instructions. You may want to use your circuit tester here to make sure the power is really off.
  4. Get ready to hang the pendant. Connect the cap to its fixture and thread the wires through the cap and the vanity plate.
  5. Connect the wires of the converter to the wires of the pendant fixture. Follow the directions that come with your pendant to do this correctly.
  6. Test the wire connection by adding a light bulb to the pendant and switching the power back on. When you see that the light works, turn the power back off.
  7. Temporarily secure the vanity plate to the ceiling with the painter's tape. Note: A vanity plate is often necessary because the hole left by the recessed can is larger than the pendant cap. If this isn't the case, then you can skip this step.
  8. Finish off the installation. Attach the fixture cap flush to the ceiling, remove the tape, and switch on the circuit breaker.
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