Kitchen fluorescent to recessed lighting: A Step-by-Step Guide!

Transform your kitchen by switching from fluorescent to recessed lighting. Discover the benefits, installation tips, and design ideas. Replacing fluorescent lights with recessed lighting is an excellent way to achieve a modern, clean look while improving energy efficiency. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step, making the transition smooth and hassle-free.

switching fluorescent to recessed lighting

To replace kitchen fluorescent lights with recessed lighting, start by turning off the power supply at the circuit breaker for safety. Next, remove the fluorescent fixture by taking out the bulbs, disconnecting the wiring, and detaching the fixture from the ceiling.

With the fixture removed, you can install the recessed lighting housing. Begin by marking the position for the new lights on the ceiling and using a template to outline the hole size. Then, cut the hole and secure the housing into place with the provided brackets or clips.

Once the housing is installed, you can wire the recessed LED light. Open the junction box attached to the housing and run the electrical cable through the knockouts. Connect the electrical wires to the light fixture, matching the black wire to the black, the white wire to the white, and the ground wire to the ground. Secure the connections with wire nuts and cover them with electrical tape.

Finally, insert the recessed LED light bulb and attach the trim, ensuring a snug fit. This simple process provides a sleek, modern, and energy-efficient lighting solution for your kitchen, transforming the space and enhancing its functionality.

If you’re ready to enhance your kitchen’s lighting with a stylish and efficient upgrade, keep reading to learn why recessed lighting is a superior choice and how easy it is to make the change.

Why Replace Kitchen Fluorescent Lights with Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting offers numerous benefits over fluorescent lights, making it an ideal choice for modernizing your kitchen.

  • Energy Efficiency: Recessed LED lights are highly energy-efficient, consuming significantly less power compared to fluorescent lights. This translates to lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan, reducing the frequency and cost of replacements.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Recessed lighting provides a sleek, clean look that seamlessly integrates with your kitchen ceiling. Unlike bulky fluorescent fixtures, recessed lights offer a minimalist appearance that enhances the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. This type of lighting can also create a more spacious and open feeling in the room.
  • Versatility: Recessed lighting is versatile and can be tailored to suit various needs in the kitchen. It provides excellent task lighting for cooking and food preparation, while also serving as ambient or accent lighting. The adjustable nature of many recessed lights allows you to direct light where it’s needed most, enhancing the functionality of the space.
  • Customization: Recessed lighting offers a range of customization options, including different bulb types, colors, and brightness levels. This allows you to create the perfect ambiance for any occasion, whether it’s a cozy family dinner or a bright and energetic cooking session.

Kitchen recessed Lights

By replacing fluorescent lights with recessed lighting, you can enjoy improved energy efficiency, enhanced aesthetics, and versatile lighting options that enhance the functionality and appearance of your kitchen.

Preparing for the Replacement

Before starting the process of replacing your kitchen fluorescent lights with recessed lighting, it’s crucial to prepare adequately. This section covers key safety precautions and outlines the necessary tools and materials you’ll need for the task.

Safety Precautions

Safety should always be a top priority when working with electrical fixtures. Before starting, make sure to turn off the power supply to the kitchen lighting at the circuit breaker. Use a voltage tester to confirm that no electricity is flowing to the fixture. This step ensures you can safely proceed with the replacement without risking electrical shock.

Additionally, use a sturdy ladder to reach the ceiling and ensure it’s positioned securely to prevent falls. Wear protective eyewear to shield your eyes from dust or debris, and use gloves to protect your hands when handling electrical components. By taking these precautions, you can work confidently and safely.

Tools and Materials Needed

To replace kitchen fluorescent lights with recessed lighting, you’ll need a few essential tools and materials:


  • Screwdriver: For removing the fluorescent fixture and securing the recessed housing.
  • Utility Knife or Drywall Saw: To cut the ceiling opening for the recessed light.
  • Voltage Tester: To ensure the power is off before starting.
  • Ladder: To reach the ceiling fixture safely.
  • Wire Strippers: For preparing the electrical wires.


  • Recessed Light Housing: The main component that holds the light bulb and fits into the ceiling.
  • LED Recessed Light Bulb: Energy-efficient lighting to replace the fluorescent bulb.
  • Electrical Tape: To secure wire connections.
  • Wire Nuts: For connecting electrical wires.

Having these tools and materials ready ensures a smooth and efficient replacement process, setting you up for a successful lighting upgrade.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing Kitchen Fluorescent Lights with Recessed Lighting

Replacing fluorescent lights with recessed LEDs in the kitchen is a great way to modernize your space. Follow these steps for a safe and successful installation.

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Safety is paramount when dealing with electrical components. The first step is to turn off the power supply to the existing fluorescent light fixture. Locate the appropriate circuit breaker in your electrical panel and switch it off. If you’re unsure which breaker controls the fixture, it’s wise to turn off the main breaker for the entire house while working.

After switching off the breaker, use a voltage tester to confirm that no electricity is flowing to the fixture. This double-check ensures that the area is safe to work on. Properly labeling the breaker panel can be helpful for future electrical projects.

Step 2: Remove the Fluorescent Light Fixture

Next, remove the fluorescent light fixture. Start by removing the fluorescent tubes and setting them aside for proper disposal. Then, remove the fixture cover or diffuser, which might be held in place by screws or clips, depending on the fixture’s design.

With the cover removed, you’ll see the wiring and mounting hardware of the fixture. Disconnect the wiring by unscrewing the wire nuts and separating the wires. Finally, unscrew the fixture from the ceiling or ceiling grid and carefully take it down. If the fixture is large or heavy, having a second person to help you is a good idea.

Step 3: Install the Recessed Lighting Housing

With the fluorescent fixture removed, it’s time to install the recessed lighting housing. Start by marking the position for the new recessed lights on the ceiling. Use a template to outline the hole size for the housing.

Next, use a utility knife or drywall saw to cut the hole for the recessed light. Be careful not to damage any existing wiring or insulation during this process. Insert the recessed lighting housing into the hole and secure it to the ceiling using the mounting brackets or clips provided. If you’re installing IC-rated housings for insulated ceilings, ensure they are properly positioned within the insulation.

Step 4: Wire the Recessed LED Light

Now that the housing is in place, it’s time to wire the recessed LED light. Start by opening the junction box attached to the housing and running the electrical cable through the knockouts. Connect the electrical wires to the light fixture, matching the black wire to the black, the white wire to the white, and the ground wire to the ground. Secure the connections with wire nuts and wrap them with electrical tape for safety.

Wiring diagram Recessed LED Light

Once the wires are connected, place the junction box cover back on and secure it. This step ensures that all electrical components are safely enclosed.

Step 5: Insert the Recessed LED Light and Trim

With the wiring complete, it’s time to insert the recessed LED light and trim. For LED recessed lights, this often involves simply screwing in the bulb and snapping on the trim. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific light fixture to ensure proper installation.

Test the light to ensure it works correctly by turning the power back on at the circuit breaker. If the light doesn’t work, turn off the power again and double-check your wiring connections. Once you’ve confirmed the light works, secure the trim to the housing, ensuring a snug fit against the ceiling. This final touch gives your recessed lighting a polished, professional appearance.

By following these steps carefully, you can successfully replace fluorescent lights with recessed LEDs, transforming your kitchen with modern, efficient lighting.

Additional Tips for Installing Recessed Lighting in the Kitchen

Installing recessed lighting in the kitchen can enhance both its aesthetics and functionality. Here are some useful tips to ensure you get the best results.

Choosing the Right Bulbs

Choosing the right bulbs for recessed lighting is crucial for creating the desired atmosphere and achieving energy efficiency.

For kitchen lighting, LED bulbs are an excellent choice due to their longevity and low power consumption. 

When selecting bulbs, consider the following factors:

  • Color Temperature: The color temperature of the bulb affects the ambiance. Warm white (2700K-3000K) creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere, ideal for dining areas, while cool white or daylight (4000K-6000K) is great for task lighting over kitchen counters.
  • Brightness: LED bulbs come in various lumens, which measure brightness. For general kitchen lighting, bulbs with 800-1100 lumens are usually sufficient. For task lighting, consider higher lumen output bulbs for better visibility.
  • Beam Angle: The beam angle determines how wide the light spreads. A narrow beam (15-30 degrees) focuses light on specific areas, while a wide beam (60 degrees or more) provides broader coverage.

Dimmable Recessed Lighting

Dimmable recessed lighting allows you to control the brightness and create the desired mood. This feature is particularly useful in the kitchen, where you might want bright light for cooking and softer light for dining or entertaining.

To install dimmable recessed lighting, ensure that both the bulbs and the dimmer switch are compatible. Look for LED-compatible dimmer switches, as not all traditional dimmers work well with LED bulbs. Proper installation of dimmable lights offers versatile lighting options, enhancing the kitchen’s ambiance.

Dimmable Recessed Light

Spacing and Layout

Proper spacing and layout are key to achieving balanced and effective recessed lighting in the kitchen. As a general rule, space the lights about 4 to 6 feet apart for an 8-foot ceiling. For higher ceilings, increase the spacing accordingly.

Consider the function of each area in the kitchen when planning the layout. For task lighting, such as over countertops or the sink, place the lights closer together for focused illumination. For ambient lighting, spread the lights evenly across the ceiling to create a welcoming atmosphere.

To avoid shadows or dark spots, ensure that the light coverage overlaps slightly. Additionally, consider the placement of other lighting fixtures in the kitchen, such as pendant lights or under-cabinet lighting, to achieve a cohesive and well-lit space.

By choosing the right bulbs, considering dimmable options, and planning the layout carefully, you can create an effective and attractive lighting setup in your kitchen.

Common Mistakes Replacing Kitchen Fluorescent Lights with Recessed Lighting

When upgrading your kitchen lighting, it’s easy to make mistakes that can compromise the effectiveness and safety of your new setup. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when replacing fluorescent lights with recessed lighting, along with tips on how to sidestep them.

  • Incorrect Placement: Placing recessed lights too close together or too far apart can result in uneven lighting or dark spots. To avoid this, follow the general rule of spacing recessed lights about 4 to 6 feet apart for an 8-foot ceiling, adjusting for higher ceilings accordingly.
  • Overloading the Circuit: Adding too many recessed lights to a single circuit can overload it, leading to potential electrical hazards. Before starting your project, check the circuit’s capacity and calculate the total wattage of the lights you plan to install. If necessary, add a new circuit or redistribute the load to prevent overloading.
  • Choosing the Wrong Bulbs: Selecting the wrong type of bulbs can result in poor lighting quality or excessive energy consumption. LED bulbs are the best choice for recessed lighting due to their energy efficiency and long lifespan. Choose the appropriate color temperature and beam angle to suit your kitchen lighting needs.
  • Ignoring Insulation: Failing to consider the insulation around recessed lighting can lead to overheating or fire hazards. Use IC-rated (insulation contact) housings if your recessed lights are in contact with insulation. This ensures safe and efficient operation, preventing potential risks.

Common Mistakes

By being mindful of these common mistakes and following the correct procedures, you can successfully replace kitchen fluorescent lights with recessed lighting, achieving a safe and efficient upgrade.


Replacing kitchen fluorescent lights with recessed lighting offers numerous benefits, including improved energy efficiency, enhanced aesthetics, and greater versatility.

By following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can successfully upgrade your kitchen lighting, transforming the space with modern, efficient lighting.

Remember to prioritize safety and plan your layout thoughtfully. With these considerations in mind, you can confidently take on this project and enjoy the improved ambiance and functionality of your new recessed lighting.

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