Update your ugly recessed can, pot or downlight lights fast, easily & cheaply

1:39:00 PM

Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting


Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting

We have a wonderful mid century split level home with gorgeously vaulted ceilings on the main level, and, at some point, recessed lighting was installed.

When we moved in, all of the lights worked, but slowly, they've been burning out, one by one.

The baffling or trim around the lights has become really yellow over the years, and quite gungy looking.
Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting

As well, the bulbs that are seated in the housings are all halogen - they get piping hot (no doubt contributing to the yellowing of the trims) and, halogens are expensive to run. In my personal experience they also don't tend to have as long a lifetime as incandescents or now, LEDs.

So. I was on a mission. My mission was three-fold:


  1. Make the darned things look nicer. Let's face it - they were an eyesore.
  2. Go with a more energy efficient, cheaper-to-run alternative.
  3. It had to be dimmable.

Until I started looking, I had no idea that they made retrofit LED can light bulbs - essentially, they're a light bulb with all of the baffle and trim attached:

Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting
image courtesy of Cree.com
There's no wiring to do - you simply screw the bulb end into the fixture end, and voila!

The bulb pictured above cost me $12 + tax. Not bad. Keep reading for the brand and review.

So, here's how simple it is to update the look of your downlights:

1. Measure up. Check to see what size down lights you'll need.

Sew at Home Mummy Tip:
measure the diameter of your existing can lights, from the outside rim edge to edge to determine the size of retrofit you'll need to pick up.

Most retrofits come in 4", 5" or 6" sizes or baffles. Make sure to measure up before you head to the hardware store.




2. If you can, remove the old light at this stage, before you head to the hardware store - I had to return my first purchase because it didn't fit depth wise - i.e. - the fixture housing was too shallow to accomodate the overly-deep fixture brand I had purchased. So, if you can pop off the old trim and remove the old bulb and measure the depth of the housing, this might save you a bit of headache.



Sew at Home Mummy Tip:
different retrofit manufacturers will have different depth of lights - check to see how deep your cans or housing is before you head to the hardware store to ensure a proper fit.







3. Screw in your new bulb (I went with a Cree brand LED retrofit, DR series -
Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting
... this was the shallowest 6" brand I could find, and it fit beautifully. I got it at that big-box orange and white home improvement store, and here's the Amazon link to the product for your reference (affiliate link)) and follow the manufacturer's instructions for pinching the metal pressure fittings while you're popping your new bulb into place.


It's that easy. Really.

So we went from this:
Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting


To this:
Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting



Now to work on all of the other lights, one by one!
Sew at Home Mummy DIY | quick and easy upgrade to recessed can pot down lights | cheap replacement retrofit recessed lights | LED lights | basement lighting

...oh my goodness, the new ones look so much better!
How to update your old can or pot lights yourself for about $12 a light! Only takes 5 minutes and a ladder. Great tips and tutorial!


This is the third bulb we've replaced with the Cree DR6 retrofit (affiliate link) over the last 6 months. I like them - they aren't too cool (very close to the yellow warmth of a 40W or 60W incandescent) and they dim nicely. And for $12 a bulb, they don't cost a ton. Plus, they look really awesome.

Happy DIY'ing!

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7 comments

  1. Wow! We have the same eye sore lights in many of our rooms. Thanks for the information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem, Sherry! I'm glad I could help. They sure make a difference, look so much better! And the energy savings won't hurt, either :)

      Delete
  2. They look fabulous!!! Not a single pot light in my 1930s farm house...I need to replace the awful crystal chandelier though!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. They look great and thanks for the measuring tips!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've just put led lighting through my new home and I'm loving it.
    Just a quick thought about your lights I don't know if you already have but I suggest buying enough lights to do all of them ASAP as the manufacturers are constantly improving their lights but that may make your lights obsolete and hard to get. I know we installed some that were a clearance line from the local lighting supplier and we bought enough to do all our external lights to match and it caused big issues when one wasn't what was written on the box (it had a wider beam angle).
    Even if you only install them as the old ones wear out at least then you know they will match.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a great tip, Abby! This happened to me with exterior light sconces I was swappinf out - luckily I managed to get all 3 done on the front of the house before they discontinued them. The rear of the house will unfortunately have 2 different lights!

      Delete
  5. We have the same old lights and I can't figure out how to replace them! Do you unscrew the casing or pull down? Nothing works! I can't even change the bulb as its enclosed in that horrible yellow ring up inside the pot light casing.

    ReplyDelete

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