Contractor issues regarding recessed lights installation

wtdedulaMarch 27, 2011

Hello All;

I am in the middle of a kitchen remodel and I ran into a snag last Friday regarding the installation of 5 Can (Recessed) lights in the kitchen.

I thought having a professional lighting company provide the Can lights and hiring a electrician would get me what I needed because I personally don't know anything about lighting installation and boy it sure seems like I was wrong. To make a long story short, let me try to explain this in steps ...

I first approached the professional lighting dealer and told the salesman I wanted to install five CAN lights for my kitchen and he recommended that I order the low-voltage version that can go around insulation.

2. However, my cabinet installer questioned that we needed "Remodel" cans instead of "New Installation" cans but they persisted with that's what I wanted. I did not know so I took his word for it. Since my attic was open, the lighting company insisted that they would work and they would be safer.

3. When my electrician came to look at my job for the first time, I specifically handed him the printed specs. for all of the things he was installing including the "New Installation" cans. I also made him go up in the attic to verify that they would work. At that time, he didn't have a problem or atleast he didn't tell me.

4. So now the electrician comes on the job to install my "new installation" cans and he says that he can't do it because he didn't realize how big they were. So I gave the electrician permission to installer smaller "remodel" cans which he purchased and proceeded to do.

5. So I went back to the lighting store and told the salesman that I wanted to return the five "New Installation" cans I bought from him and he got very irate and mad and told me I could not return them because he'd have to eat the cost. He called my electrician and they argued but the salesman did not back down. The lighting salesman told me that those cans will work except that the electricians have to do extra work to relocate some of the wriring in the attic and he's insisting that they just don't want to do the extra work.

6.So I went home expecting a confrontation with the electricians but they were fairly nice and they agreed to come back to try to install the original Cans (That the lighting store wouldn't take back) but they will probably charge me for the extra labor which may come to as much as the original cans cost.

So my delimma is, Do I just use the "remodel" cans that he has already installed in which case I'll have 5 cans with trim and lights that will just be collecting dust (And I'd be out about $800).

Or do I have the electricians try to install the original Low Voltage "New Construction" cans in which I may have to pay them for the extra labor involved ?

Is it desirable to have "New Construction" Low Voltage cans due to a safety factor or are the "remodel" cans just as OK to use ?

Do you think I have anything I can do to get the lighting store to return the cans I originally bought from them since I think I was manipulated into buying those even though we told the lighting store up front that this was a remodel and not a new construction

Sorry about the long message - it's linda complicated. I'm interested in your thoughts - hopefully, you're able to follow my story above.


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#2 - insulated ceiling/air tight (IC/AT) is mandatory in many areas and always recommended if installing in a ceiling that is insulated, or should be. Most low voltage housings are only IC/AT if new construction type. Light shop was correct in recommending new construction.

#3,4 - looking at attic for access does not mean that the housings will fit where desired unless they also carefully measured the layout to see what may be in the way of each fixture. The layout is generally done from below and projected up onto the ceiling with exploratory small holes to then locate in the attic. That the electrician found the space issues when starting the project should be foreseeable by him. How the electrician priced the project may reflect his experience. Low voltage new construction housings are generally larger and harder to place than non low voltage new construction housings. The fixture you ordered may be a brand or model he hasn't seen before. For example, Halo has a 3" low voltage fixture made for shallow depth but the housing is huge in length and width and can be quite a surprise if one hasn't used them before. If you don't need the shallow depth it is also a mistake to order that model.

#5 - sounds like store does not stock the housings. Buying product that may or may not fit well from stores that don't stock and won't accept a return is risky.

Electrician should try to put in the new construction. If you aren't in a mandatory IC/AT area then you can substitute remodel housings where necessary and at least limit the number you must return or eBay.

And then there is the issue of why and how you ended up with the number and type of fixtures you are using but I'm sure others will add to the thread about that.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Thank you very much, dim4fun. Your response is very helpful.

I have pretty much decided to let the electricians try to put in the IC/AT cans for New Construction though they did say that they can't put the one in by the sink because it is close to the sloping roof so I will inquire if it is mandatory for my area to use IC/AT and if it is, they will have to figure out a way to make it work.

Is there any way that I can find out myself if I am in a IC/AT area ?

Regarding your #5, I didn't have a clue that either those cans may not fit or the store wouldn't take returns when I first ordered the lights. I take issue with the lighting store because they didn't indicate at any time that the cans were not returnable until I actually had to return them. They emailoed me a receipt which was blurry but they did not give me a printed receipt because I actually placed the order over the phone while I was on travel.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:42PM
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