What's involved in moving/installing a can light?

eleenaSeptember 28, 2012

I need to decide on lighting for the kitchen. Someone suggested installing 6 or more can lights. Three years ago, the quote was $130 to install a can and now it is $260-$280, based on a recent quote for building a walk-in closet from a GC who (most likely) will be remodeling the kitchen.

I do trust him and don't think he is trying to rip me off. I did question that item and he said that this what the electrician would charge him. But I do not understand why the price has doubled in 3 years.

As my remodel budget was cut substantially due to another repair needed, I need to figure out if I can afford the lights now or should do it later (as the kitchen has some lighting, it is just not "good enough").

Getting a competitive quote directly from an electrician is problematic b/c they charge just for coming to your place - anywhere from $35 to $110+ and you have to wait days or weeks. Plus, I have already had some bad experiences by communicating directly.

The area we live in is not very "competitive" and lots of professionals charge whatever they want to b/c of that. E.g., some doctors do not take any insurance, not just one or two but all of them in that specialized area.

I would like to understand how much work is involved in installing a can light and how long it takes (on average) if there is an attic above the kitchen. Is it more work than installing a different type of lighting?


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Where are you moving it to? A few inches to one side or several feet?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:09PM
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Sorry, I had that info in my original post which was too long, so I edited it before posting and omitted that info.

Moving one can no more than 10" (more likely, 4"-6").

Installing 6 or 8 cans in the kitchen (probably, design not yet final).

I guess, I am asking about two different things then?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Even moving one a few inches may be signifiant work.

If the cale to the light has enough slack, or you are moving it along the cable towards a feed point it is not all that hard with attic access.

If the one you want to move feeds another lights, now you have two cables that must reach the new location, or junction boxes must be added.

New lights in a kitchen with an attic above may require a new circuit (more $$ since it has to run all the way to the panel) or you may be able to use an existing circuit to feed them.

With attic access and no new circuit it is a few hours (at least around 30 minutes per light).

Remember that the ceiling has to be cut, the light mounted, then wired.

Make a mistake cutting the ceiling that the trim ring does not cover and you have a drywall repair to contend with.

This is one of the reasons that slow and methodical wins.

If the ceiling is anything but drywall, it gets harder and takes longer.

If a ceiling joist is in the way the lights move or a LOT of work is required by a carpenter to move it.

If the 'joist' is the bottom cord of a truss, it needs an engineer's stamp to alter the truss (better to move the light usually).

About all you can do is learn to do the work yourself, or get multiple bids.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:19PM
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Thank you, brickeyee!

No, not doing ourselves, not that handy. :-(

To be perfectly honest, IDK why but I don't like cans to begin with, even forgetting the cost.

Right now, we have fluorescent box fixtures. They do the job but I was told they are not "acceptable" for a house like ours.

What else can we do for general lighting?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:42PM
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Sight unseen it's difficult for us to estimate the work but in any case the question is if you are willing to pay x dollars for the job. If I had told you the work was worth $50. Would you question your electrician based on the word of an Internet stranger? How about $500? Would you have written the bigger check or just been happy you got a great deal?

In terms of design, I believe the kitchen is a "work" area and the task dictates the lighting design. If you can come up with a fixture pattern that properly illuminates work surfaces and you like can lights, go for it. If not, put in the fixture that makes you happy. It's your house and you're paying the bills. Personally, I've put 4' four lamp fluorescent fixtures in two of my kitchens because I want to see what I'm doing. My house, my money.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Knowing that YMMV, I was not asking about the cost, just how long it takes to install a can light, assuming an "uncomplicated" situation, and what is involved. Then I can figure out the cost if I know what electricians here charge per hour.

I have not been long enough around this board and I am curious why the cost estimate is such a touchy subject here. I have seen websites, including the GW Kitchens forum, where people answer such questions all the time.

I have learned today that there is even software that provides estimates by region.

Most people here are not trying to hassle their contractors but nobody wants to be taken advantage of either - which happens quite often. Ordinary people like me have no idea what's involved in this and that, so we question when an estimate or charge seems higher than expected. Not any different than examining your hospital bill, IMO. :-)

"If not, put in the fixture that makes you happy. It's your house and you're paying the bills."

But I don't know what would make me happy b/c I am new to remodeling and have no idea what could be good for general lighting in the kitchen. I don't want to make a decision based on "looks", kwim?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:00AM
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