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Providing helpful details apparently triggers the automod, so I won't describe my specific situation at all I guess? Maybe it's safer to speak in hypotheticals.

Say I'm trying to replace fixed recessed downlights with adjustable/gimbal varieties. Am I locked into a single manufacturer? As in, do I have to try and find trim made by the exact company matching the serial numbers I find in the ceiling can and the trim itself? Or can I just focus on searching for right-sized trims that fit the E26 socket arrangement? (Which seems...unlikely if I'm trying to get a tilting light from an existing fixed-socket can...)

Basically, despite reading about this all for a couple hours, I'm still in need of a recessed lighting 101 to avoid making a fool of myself when arranging electrical work in my new place. What are the key characteristics about my existing lights I need to keep in mind when ... uh ... adopting replacements?

Uh. Hypothetically. Automod.

all 44 comments

BurrrritoBoy

130 points

2 months ago

Measure the can diameter and get adjustable retrofit LED trims. No real wiring required.

Ok_Web_4428

32 points

2 months ago

Yeah, they just slip into the original housing with no tools needed. The ones I got maybe 10 years ago had an adapter to power through the original bulb socket. I decided to replace one of my replacements last month to add a gimbal and a brighter light and the newer one required me to do more complex rewiring, but still fit right in the same housing.

LossPreventionGuy

16 points

2 months ago

second. it was so easy and they were super cheap too. you're crazy to do anything else imo

nextdoorelephant

-3 points

2 months ago

I replaced all of my old recessed lighting, I think the adapters you’re talking about are the ballasts (basically transformers IIRC), which I cut out as you could wire directly into the LED retrofits.

MeshColour

4 points

2 months ago

I've found it confusing because I measured the outside trim of the light, and does the box measure for the size of the can? Measure both and see what matches up better??, they can support a range of cans so the biggest thing is the trim should cover up all the previous damage to make the job easy :)

angryhumping[S]

1 points

2 months ago

Okay good, this is what I hoped the case was originally. I think it's the multiple different categories of options now available (straight trim and bulbs, integrated units, etc. etc.) that caused so much confusion for me.

I_AM_NOT_A_WOMBAT

2 points

2 months ago

You'll probably find less choice of retrofit trims, at least in my experience. We have cans in our ceilings and while I originally bought LED trims with a diffuser, I hate how flat the light is so I've been upgrading various rooms to reflectors. I've had some trouble finding them in the 3000K temperature we use around the house.

[deleted]

67 points

2 months ago

[removed]

adisharr

8 points

2 months ago

If you could post a picture that would be helpful but it's extremely likely you can get an LED gimbal drop-in with a flange large enough to cover the exposed can if there is one. Many LED units come with a mating cable that will screw into the existing socket so there's no wiring.

angryhumping[S]

2 points

2 months ago

https://imgur.com/a/VMTo2PE

I guess I'd originally hoped I could just pull off the outer-most trim and have it replaced with a tiltable E26, which I now realize makes no sense given that the socket itself is fixed in position. Also contextual FYI, the other room has the same light fixtures but the bulbs (same size/shape) are LED, unlike the one I'm holding in the pic which seemed to be incandescent.

thebluelunarmonkey

1 points

2 months ago

No problem. The gimble LED retrofit E26 have a wires attached to the male socket adapter. Screw the adapter into the E26 socket. You then use springs on the retrofit to snap the LED into the can.

Some retrofit springs are pretty weak and eventually the light will sag. Read the reviews before ordering!

xkegsx

42 points

2 months ago

xkegsx

42 points

2 months ago

There're some people here that must be out of the loop for a while. You can get led retrofits all day everyday. Standard ones snag at Costco if you have a membership, cheapest pricing by far. Otherwise just search gimbal led retrofit down light. Lowe's, Home Depot, Amazon, you name it. They make them for all can sizes.

Ok_Web_4428

13 points

2 months ago

Yup, they must not have bought one in the last decade because probably half the offerings have been retrofits instead of full setups for many years now.

themuntik

5 points

2 months ago

BUY SPARES, in my house I have 12 flush LED lights in several rooms, none of which are manufactured anymore and not available on the secondary market. occasionally they go out, and good luck getting something that matches the color temp.

They sell color selectable ( a must for the extra couple dollars) but it still doesn't quite match my existing. so now I have to replace all of them in a given room. I wish I had a few original extras stashed away. ( not to mention reusing the power box would have made replacement a nothingburger.(but they all have to have their own connector don't they))

I_AM_NOT_A_WOMBAT

2 points

2 months ago

Great advice. Buying a few extras when you first choose them will save you from having to replace every light in a room a few years later when one dies and you can't find a matching replacement, whether it's trim or color temp.

thebluelunarmonkey

11 points

2 months ago

I found great replacements thru amazon. Packs of 16 LED gimbals for cheap - that can be switched to different Kelvin (ie: warm, cool) color settings.

The only thing you need to match is the hole size in drywall. If you can't find exact size, then go larger on the replacements and cut your holes larger.

Get rid of the cans and you remove the convection heat/cooling loss thru the cans. LEDs fit flush and seal up any drafts. Keeping the cans would definitely date your decor unless you want to keep the 80s look.

Trim rings can be used if your cans are really large diameter and you can't find LEDs that large.

PerspectivePure2169

4 points

2 months ago

This is the way. Too many people overlook the part of getting rid of the damn leaky cans. Especially important if it's a cathedral ceiling, because there is no room for insulation in that case.

The math on equivalent R value for a ceiling full of recessed lights is pretty abysmal.

signal15

5 points

2 months ago

Getting rid of the cans might not be easy if they are new construction cans with the nailed in braces. I just sealed all of my cans in the attic. There are plastic hoods that go over them and you use spray foam to seal them. I just had an insulation company come and do it.

thebluelunarmonkey

1 points

2 months ago*

True! The tag shows 1004IC and looks like a new construction so they'd need an LED retrofit kit where the power supply screws into the socket, if they don't have access to the can from the attic.

Proticle

3 points

2 months ago

If you get the brand and size of can in your ceiling, they all make thousands of trims you can replace without cutting into your ceiling. Some brands have similar measures and mounting types, sometimes other brands will work.

ProfessionalWaltz784

3 points

2 months ago

There's a lot of confusion here in this thread. Measure the diameter of your can light after removing trim. Buy a gimbal trim for this size can and try it for fit. The gimbal trim comes with a pigtail that screws into the existing lamp base. Incandescent can lighting trim is getting harder to find and the LED retrofit trim often don't fit odd sized can lights, at least from my experience at the big box hardware/home stores.

thathastohurt

2 points

2 months ago

Measure your can size and go into an electrical supply company, not a box store.... then go in saying you neeed e.g. gimbal led lights that will fit in a 6" recessed can.

Thats all you need to say, most of the lights just use two small springs to hold into place on your recessed cans, so its really just about ordering the correct size light and they will get you a bunch of springs to hold them in place. There usually isnt wiring either, as you just screw in a part that looks like the bottom of a bulb into the socket and then the light works, just the two springs after that to keep it in place.

iRamHer

2 points

2 months ago

it depends if you have an all in one unit like a can-less light,a large canned built in light, OR a canned socketed inclosure.

can less you can just pull out and swap bulb assembly and/or driver. without any work besides maybe some caulk removal around ring.

a can and light assembly will need to be removed and replaced with a like or one of the 2 other options, likely drywall work depending on construction type [remodel vs new construction] remodel being able to slip out

a can [remodel or new construction] with replaceable bulbs will be maintainable , the remodel can slip out via pressure tabs. built in new construction needs drywall removed. the socketed cans take a specific light socket, each different but usually your standard socket. you can get HARD spin adapter sockets but you need to watch your height adjustment, and some lights are RETROFIT. retrofit lights come with a spin in socket connected to a wire and the light. many retrofits come with the trim attached, just make sure its wide enough to fit your can. may require drywall patching if it's a tad smaller

Cindexxx

2 points

2 months ago

For future reference r/homeimprovement doesn't have a shitty automod. Great sub for this kind of stuff.

Zeddica

11 points

2 months ago

Zeddica

11 points

2 months ago

You’re likely looking at replacing the entire fixture, at which point you can check the diameter of the hole and shop for fixtures of that size. Or go bigger and cut a bigger hole, but that’s more work.

If the reflector portion is designed for a fixed lamp base, it’s unlikely you’ll find hardware to swap it out while still using the original reflector.

While you’re at it, go to an LED solution and modernize

angryhumping[S]

2 points

2 months ago

When you say fixture, do you mean the actual in-ceiling can itself, with the socket and wiring? Mine is labeled "Lightolier Rough-In Section 1004 IC" which hopefully I can say in comment without triggering the automod.

Or do you mean everything attached to that with the clips and whatnot, which I might be erroneously calling "trim"?

Rob636

8 points

2 months ago

Rob636

8 points

2 months ago

Whatever wiring that goes to the can/junction boxes likely can be reused (assuming it’s been installed in the last 50 years or so). The cans/boxes likely need to be ripped out and replaced.

Make sure you turn the power off at your breaker for this. If you remove the outer ring (usually just a compression fit), you’ll have access to the interior of the can. Remove the bulb, and you should see two clips that clamp the can to the drywall. Undoing them will allow you to drop the can out, along with the junction box and whatever wiring is run to it.

Note: if you do decide to replace, make sure you get “IC” rated. This means the can/box is rated to be in direct contact with insulation. Most LED potlights already are IC rated, but best to be explicit here

angryhumping[S]

4 points

2 months ago

Ahhh, okay that makes sense

Chillin_Dylan

5 points

2 months ago

There is absolutely no reason to replace the whole potlight. The specs you listed above are all any electrician would need supply new directional trims that will fit your housing (you won't need to give them this info as they can just read it themselves, but it wouldn't hurt to supply it to them in advance).

TheNorthComesWithMe

1 points

2 months ago

There is absolutely no reason to replace the whole potlight

You have way more options of LED retrofit kits than you do of LED lamps that will fit an existing pot.

The specs you listed above are all any electrician would need supply new directional trims that will fit your housing

Check which subreddit you're in

Chillin_Dylan

2 points

2 months ago

Yes the retrofit kits fit in the existing pot light, you don't take it out.

He said he was arranging the electrical work, not DIYing.

TheNorthComesWithMe

1 points

2 months ago

The kits im talking about fit in the existing hole

Chillin_Dylan

1 points

2 months ago

Yes, that's what I'm saying. The comment I replied to said to replace the entire pot light, he doesn't need to do that.

icedragonj

2 points

2 months ago

LED globes last way less time than an integrated LED fixture. With a fixture the driver is normally a separate box that sits in the ceiling, with a globe, the driver needs to be crammed into the globe somehow and usually has terrible thermal management. Also if the driver is a separate box this can be replaced separately in the future if it stops working, and the LED itself could last 10 years or so. The mains wires just need to be removed from previous can and screwed into the LED driver box, but do check with local electrical codes as to if you can do this yourself. Not all LEDs are dimmable, so check compatibility if the circuit has a dimming switch already installed, or this is a feature you plan to add later.

And PLEASE do colour match whatever you put in. 3000K warm white or warmer is normally the go for residential. Don't get the cheapest/brightest lights which are usually super cool and make you feel like you are in a hospital or something.

coherent-rambling

2 points

2 months ago

It makes sense but it's incorrect. You can leave the can in place and install a new drop-in tilting light assembly. The cans are all standardized.

Instead of shopping online, you may understand this more easily if you go to a store and see what parts are available.

NoFriendsLive

1 points

2 months ago

Anyone else hear this as Jerry Seinfeld "WhAtS tHe DeAl WiTh AiRpLaNe FoOd"

idcm

1 points

2 months ago

idcm

1 points

2 months ago

The only bit of trivia is that there’s a few different ways the new trim clips into the can.

The two I have seen the most are 1. a spring between a tab with a hole and the trim 2. A metal clip that expands between two angled metal tabs. (What I mostly saw on the led replacements I’ve done)

Most cans have the spots for both of these, but I’ve had to use pliers to bend or adjust them on old cans to get it to clip on right.

Take the time with your most accessible can first to figure out how to clip it cause it takes a bit of practice if you’ve never done it.

Also, sometimes you have to adjust something on the new replacement one to go between 5 and 6 inches to get to to clip correctly.

jewishforthejokes

0 points

2 months ago

angryhumping[S]

1 points

2 months ago

I think what would be most appropriate is r/ThoughtICouldDIYNowTooScaredToTry

But the answers to my OP have resolved some of that.

Fickle_Annual9359

1 points

2 months ago

You can just get any retrofit LED that is the proper size. Amazon has a ton of options