Insulated Ceiling Light Installation

Can you install recessed light in insulated ceiling?

The answer is yes for most of the cases. Regular recessed lights cannot be installed due to heat transfer. You will need IC (insulated ceiling) rated lights. These lights usually have a large housing, 6″ so make sure to plan for that. They are also air tight in order to restrict heat transfer. If the size or beam/pipe locations restrict you in optimal light positioning you can use LED panel instead of recessed light to get similar results.

Installation process

For this case we will illustrate an example where there is an existing switch for a light in the same room. As usual the initial stage is Design. Decide where the lights will be positioned.

General Rules for recessed light positioning:

  1. Positioned 2-2.5 ft away from the wall, less for accent lighting
  2. 4-5ft between lights for even coverage with 7-8ft ceiling
  3. Avoid pipes and beams
  4. Use tape to mark initial positions
  5. Always use laser to adjust marker positions to line up the lights perfectly, we use Dewalt Cross Line laser

After you have decided where you want the lights you will need a appropriately sized hole saw with a dust pan attachment to make holes for the lights. You will find a layer of plastic holding back the insulation. That plastic will need to be carefully cut in an x-shape.


The next step is wiring. Insulation contains fiberglass and is irritating to the skin so the wiring will require long sleeves, gloves and safety glasses. At Vicamp we use Romex 14/2 wire for residential projects. In order to fish the wire from one light to another you will have to slowly make a hand sized opening in the insulation. After that it is a matter of fishing the wires through with the help of fishline or fishtape. In some cases you will encounter a beam between lights and you will have to use a drill with a 4-5′ drill attachment to make an opening for the wire.

Attaching the light

Once the wiring is done it is time to put the recessed light housing into the hole. There are many types of recessed lights which are secured in mildly different ways, the directions are often included with the product. One thing to keep track off is the insulation. Make sure the wires do not coil and push away the insulation as it will decrease its effectiveness. The final step is to attach the light bulb and the trim as directed by the manufacturers.

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