DIY recessed lighting installation?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Topic Author
softmax
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:27 am

DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by softmax »

I'm contemplating adding a few recessed lights by myself but I have zero experience in electrical work :happy.
My attic is easy to access and those DIY youtube videos seem straightforward. It's definitely not rocket science but I just don't know if it can easily become a fire hazard if not done professionally.
It definitely saves money but is a penny wise and pound foolish move?
Normchad
Posts: 2324
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Normchad »

You shouldn't do this if you don't know what you are doing.

Legally, you are required to get a permit for this. Although many people don't get one.

yes, they can be a fire hazard. Depending on the bulb you use, they create a lot of heat, and can catch insulation or other material on fire. they can also create a fire hazard by over=loading whatever circuit you hook them up to.

There are LED equivalent fixtures now that don't produce as much heat, or draw as much power. But still, you shouldn't do this if you don't know what you are doing.
User avatar
Bogle7
Posts: 1042
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 9:33 am
Location: Mountain state

нет

Post by Bogle7 »

1. Get a permit. If you have a fire and no permit, then your insurance company will not pay.
2. Pay a pro whose work can pass inspection.
3. Have the pro do more work while there. For example, whole house surge protector, changing breakers to arc fault, installing an outlet behind the toilet in the master bath, installing a BEV charger in the garage, etc.
Last edited by Bogle7 on Tue Apr 13, 2021 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Old fart who does three index funds, baby.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 13294
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona
Contact:

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Sandtrap »

If you mess up the install or don’t get a permit if it’s needed and there’s a fire or injury, your homeowners insurance might not cover it.

There are only so many fixtures and load allowed per circuit and the light you install has to be code for where you put it. IE heat venting, etc.

Suggest hiring a reputable licensed electrician unless you are experienced at this or a tradesman etc. know the codes and run your own permit etc.

There can be more to it than following a YouTube install.

Hire an electrician not a handyman.
Especially because you have zero experience.
Do it right.
Sleep well
j🌺
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
Topic Author
softmax
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:27 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by softmax »

Thanks for the replies! I think I’ll just hire a electrician. Not sure whether Washington state requires a permit for this type of work. I’ll research it.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 13294
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona
Contact:

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Sandtrap »

softmax wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:16 pm Thanks for the replies! I think I’ll just hire a electrician. Not sure whether Washington state requires a permit for this type of work. I’ll research it.
Compare quotes from several licensed electricians.
They’ll handle permits if needed.

Good luck
j🌺
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
BobStrauss
Posts: 154
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:08 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by BobStrauss »

Fine, I’ll play the contrarian here.

I’ve heard it quoted a lot that insurance won’t pay for issues due to non-permitted work, but have also read a number of threads saying that’s not true - that worst case scenario is that you get paid out (but not up to code) and dropped as a customer. I’d also bet that by far most electricians aren’t interested in getting permits to run a handful of recessed lights.

The process is really quite simple, and modern integrated LEDs rated for insulation contact pull next to nothing and don’t get near hot enough to cause issues. But of course, if you’re the type of guy who’s absentminded, prone to shock himself, or likely to buy something completely inappropriate - hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
Topic Author
softmax
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:27 am

Re: нет

Post by softmax »

Bogle7 wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:52 pm 1. Get a permit. If you have a fire and no permit, then your insurance company will not pay.
I'm just trying understand how this is enforced.
1) How I am going to ensure that no work is done without permit if I'm not the first owner?
2) How does the insurance company know which add-ons were done without permits?
suemarkp
Posts: 517
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:18 pm
Location: Somewhere in WA State

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by suemarkp »

Many things have dates on them. Wire does. So it is possible to see you never pulled a permit since you lived there but have wire that is only a year old.

WA requires a permit for any new item install such as light, outlet, or switch.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
Topic Author
softmax
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:27 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by softmax »

BobStrauss wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:34 pm The process is really quite simple, and modern integrated LEDs rated for insulation contact pull next to nothing and don’t get near hot enough to cause issues.
That’s exactly why I thought I could do it. Wiring is pretty straightforward and these LED lights are extremely low power. But maybe there are some special safety guidelines that only the pros know?
I personally worked on lots of electronics projects but I’ve never dealt with 120v.
whomever
Posts: 1081
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by whomever »

" But maybe there are some special safety guidelines that only the pros know?"

There is a whole code book of requirements :-)

That said, residential wiring isn't rocket science, but you really do have to do it right or Bad Things happen.

You might buy a basic residential wiring book and have a look and see if you think it's something you want to tackle.

If you do decide to do it, absolutely pull the permit and then tell the inspector that you are a first time DIY and ask them to give an extra careful look.

Another thing you haven't mentioned is where the power will come from, i.e. you're extending from an existing light that is already switched, versus you need to run wire back to the main panel. The art and science of fishing wires in an existing house is hard to learn from a book.

(Not an electrician, have done extensive DIY wiring, including subpanels, three phase, .... It's all feasible, but you have to climb the learning curve. IMHE one of the worst possibilities is the electrical engineer who thinks 'I understand electricity, I can just wing it', because 90% of the code has nothing to do with the physics of electricity, it has to do with mechanical routing and connecting in ways that won't cause problems later. There are a lot of details, e.g. the high temps in an attic may affect your wire choices.)
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 5874
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by lthenderson »

They now make led puck lights that literally only need the thickness of your drywall to sit flush so there is no need for cans and bulbs anymore. You simply run the wire, hook black to black, white to white, ground to ground and you have a new light. I have never had the opportunity to install one yet but have installed dozens and dozens of recessed can lights in all my houses over the years. I live in a state where permitting isn't required unless it is a new addition.

That said, I've been wiring my own electrical stuff since I was a teenager on the farm. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are positive you know what you are doing. I am also the first to admit that lighting can get tricky really fast when it comes to figuring out where power is coming into a light circuit, especially with multiple switches. I am not a licensed electrician and have called one a time or two over the years when I get above my pay grade. However, if you are just adding another light in a room that already has lights and not messing with switches, it isn't rocket science.
seawolf21
Posts: 994
Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:33 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by seawolf21 »

You should look into IC-rated cans to minimize fire hazard if there is insulation. As Normchad indicated, LED would be the way to go. Less heat less power.

As lthenderson, indicated, a can is not even needed for some low-profile LED recess. Just cut a hole in ceiling. Hard part is making sure you cut the hole in the correct spot and running wire if none exist.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial- ... /308959185
ddurrett896
Posts: 1524
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:23 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by ddurrett896 »

In my county you wouldn't need a permit for that. For work that requires a permit, it's simple enough to pull then have inspected.

Recessed lights are arguably the easiest thing to wire up, especially on an existing circuit. White to white, black to black, ground to ground and daisy chain them with 14/2 (15 amp) or 12/2 (20 amp). Buy the wafer styles that don't require a can. Helps on shallow ceilings and in places where you might hit a joist.
User avatar
hand
Posts: 1629
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by hand »

Fire and legal risk are real - but small. I would (and did) do it myself, but pull a permit to cover yourself from the risks.

This is not at all difficult if you're handy, and the care you take in your own home with regards to details like air sealing and product selection, may very well make up for any gaffs due to inexperience - not to mention the substantial savings opportunity.
User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 5874
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by lthenderson »

Here is one example of LED lights that don't need a can to install and are rated for contact with insulation.

https://www.amazon.com/Ensenior-Ultra-T ... 07QQ46VP3/
Topic Author
softmax
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:27 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by softmax »

whomever wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 8:50 am a
Another thing you haven't mentioned is where the power will come from, i.e. you're extending from an existing light that is already switched, versus you need to run wire back to the main panel. The art and science of fishing wires in an existing house is hard to learn from a book.
Ah I’m adding more lights to an existing light that’s already wired to the switch. Those canless integrated LEDs seem to have designed to be daisy chained.
User avatar
indexfundfan
Posts: 3217
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:21 am
Contact:

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by indexfundfan »

The can-less LED lights are easy to install. Don't forget to use push-in connectors at where the wire enters the junction box.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-8-in-Non- ... /203803776
My signature has been deleted.
TonyDAntonio
Posts: 626
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:32 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by TonyDAntonio »

I've installed new led cans, new led wafers (no cans), new switch controlled led sconces, new switch controlled led overhead lights in bedrooms that just had switch controlled outlets and many overhead led bulbs in my garage. I'm not an electrician. I had no previous experience. I read a lot and watched a lot of YouTube videos and started small. I'm pretty conservative and didn't do a lot on my house when I was younger. I'm the son of a federal government building inspector. I had him do all my work until he died. That was 20 years ago.

You have to feel comfortable enough to do this. Only you will know when and if you are ready to try. But it is relatively easy work and relatively safe and low risk. The voltage on all the new led fixtures is so low that one of the issues, overloading a circuit, has been eliminated. I have no idea if my insurance will cover if there is a fire. What I did will not cause a fire. You have to do enough learning to be 100% sure of this. I know and have had over to the house electricians and building inspectors. Neither of them batted an eye over what I have done. This includes an entire bathroom remodel that I would not recommend just anyone try.

My two cents. Good luck. Whatever you decide is right for you.
NichtKlein
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:21 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by NichtKlein »

I say go for it. There are a lot of fear mongers on this thread. You say you've done some electronics work, so you aren't a complete novice. Of course there are caveats and all situations are different.

I am an electrical engineer in WA state. This is very straight forward. As a homeowner, you can do your own electrical work if you pull your own permit. This is done through L&I. Watch a few youtube videos to build up your confidence.

I think the hardest part will be cutting your ceiling drywall. Make sure to check the attic before cutting the hole so that you don't land on a rafter.
suemarkp
Posts: 517
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:18 pm
Location: Somewhere in WA State

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by suemarkp »

One gotcha now is if you extend a circuit more than 6 feet, that circuit must be upgraded to an AFCI breaker if the extension is in a room that requires AFCI (in 2020 code most rooms require AFCI protection). If you get it inspected, the inspector will check for that.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
mkc
Posts: 550
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:59 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by mkc »

Strongly recommend thin surface mount (use standard J-box) LED lights over recessed can lights. Can lights basically perf your most important insulation layer.

Don't forget to air-seal.
michaelingp
Posts: 484
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:46 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by michaelingp »

Do you (O.P.) have a handy friend who can give you some pointers and check what you're dealing with before you start? If you ask a question like this on an internet forum, you're going to get a lot of negative responses, because nobody knows your skills and life experience, and thus don't want to encourage you to get over your head, with possible serious consequences. Like NichtKlein I would also be in the "go for it" camp, except that I have seen the electrical work that some of my friends have done, and some have been really scary. In one case, a friend put a new socket on an electrical cord and managed to reverse the black and white wires. The cord worked fine, but in certain possible but rare situations could have been fatal to someone. Using a simple, inexpensive socket tester would have discovered the error. Three-way switches are another area where I've seen mistakes, although they don't usually have safety consequences.

YouTube videos can be problematic as well. I have seen plenty that were just plain wrong. I used one, found it to be totally wrong. I wondered why nobody said in the comments that it was the wrong way to do the job. Then I read more carefully. The first 100 comments were all, "Yeah dude, great video, you saved me a ton of money." Then the 101th comment was, "You do know there is a much better way to do this, right?" Lesson: Read ALL the comments.
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 8041
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by JoeRetire »

softmax wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:35 pm I'm contemplating adding a few recessed lights by myself but I have zero experience in electrical work :happy.
My attic is easy to access and those DIY youtube videos seem straightforward. It's definitely not rocket science but I just don't know if it can easily become a fire hazard if not done professionally.
It definitely saves money but is a penny wise and pound foolish move?
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
User avatar
hand
Posts: 1629
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by hand »

JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 8041
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by JoeRetire »

hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
iamlucky13
Posts: 2401
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: нет

Post by iamlucky13 »

softmax wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 11:42 pm
Bogle7 wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:52 pm 1. Get a permit. If you have a fire and no permit, then your insurance company will not pay.
I'm just trying understand how this is enforced.
1) How I am going to ensure that no work is done without permit if I'm not the first owner?
2) How does the insurance company know which add-ons were done without permits?
As far as I'm aware, they don't know in general. I suppose if an investigation points to a defective installation as the cause of the fire, I would expect them to start asking questions, but I couldn't say how frequently that happens. Really, the problem there is the defective installation, not the permit itself, but if you have a permit and the inspector signed off on the work, that's would help protect your interest.

Regarding work a previous owner might have done, I would hope that unless an insurer can prove that work not covered by your policy such as due to lack of required permits occurred after the policy was first issued, they can't deny coverage, but I don't know.

Also, keep in mind that per forum rules, we can't advocate for skipping a permit if it is required in your area. I would expect new fixture installation is probably permit-required. Replacement of existing fixtures with equivalent might not require a permit.
softmax wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:53 am But maybe there are some special safety guidelines that only the pros know?
No. They will have pretty extensive knowledge of the requirements and often some specialized knowledge unlikely to apply to household wiring, but most household wiring requirements can be learned by a moderately handy person with a little bit of patience and the ability to read carefully.

There are some good books geared towards helping homeowners do things right, like Wiring Simplified. For electrical wiring, I would recommend such a resource, written by people knowledgeable in the National Electric Code, rather than just doing web searches for information. Not only does it reduce the concerns about incorrect information, but for less than $20, you get a lot of information compiled all in one place.
inbox788
Posts: 8192
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by inbox788 »

softmax wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:53 amThat’s exactly why I thought I could do it. Wiring is pretty straightforward and these LED lights are extremely low power. But maybe there are some special safety guidelines that only the pros know?
I personally worked on lots of electronics projects but I’ve never dealt with 120v.
Lighting is relatively straightforward and simple and installing these new low profile units has gotten really easy. They've gotten so thin some of the lights are actually in the drywall itself.

DIY is certainly something to consider. Running and securing the wiring is probably the most difficult part of the job.

Which LED lights are you looking at?
Topic Author
softmax
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:27 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by softmax »

inbox788 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:20 pm Which LED lights are you looking at?
This type of LED with J-box included. I think some of these even have quick connectors in the J-box.
https://www.amazon.com/Ensenior-Ultra-T ... 07QQ46VP3/
inbox788
Posts: 8192
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by inbox788 »

softmax wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:05 pm
inbox788 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:20 pm Which LED lights are you looking at?
This type of LED with J-box included. I think some of these even have quick connectors in the J-box.
https://www.amazon.com/Ensenior-Ultra-T ... 07QQ46VP3/
Yup, those are the ones I started seeing a few years back. I was amazed at how much smaller and simpler and easier it was than the old can installations from above in the attic. It may even be possible and allowed in some places to fish wiring from below, especially if you're doing a retrofit and not set foot in the attic or in places with no attic access.

They're only 12 watts, so generate little heat. I'm starting to worry more about the higher power from QC 3/4 and USB-C PD up to 60 or 100 watts. I didn't worry about cheap adapters and cables (and many have failed, both expensive and cheap), but now I'm paying a lot more attention to the adapter and especially wiring specifications as well as condition. I've come across a lot of damaged insulation from use and abuse of phone and other charging cables.

In both cases, it's critical to protect the covering or sheath. Even pros make stupid errors, like forgetting to protect the wiring from the sharp punch out or stapling thru romex. Safer to avoids staples all together and use those plastic fasteners.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 13294
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona
Contact:

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Sandtrap »

JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
softmax wrote: Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:35 pm I'm contemplating adding a few recessed lights by myself but I have zero experience in electrical work :happy.
My attic is easy to access and those DIY youtube videos seem straightforward. It's definitely not rocket science but I just don't know if it can easily become a fire hazard if not done professionally.
It definitely saves money but is a penny wise and pound foolish move?
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
+1
There is a specific reason why lights, circuits, j boxes, etc, are all planned out in a new home or permitted remod or alteration.
It can be more than just tapping into an existing light and adding 4 more on the same circuit, or not tapping into or adding an additional j box in the area to accommodate what’s going on.
If you do a DIY at least draw everything out and have an electrician friend look at it first.
These things can be easy and simple or some wire gets swapped somehow and you back feed your system and someone gets shocked. It even happens with the pros.

Careful
j🌺
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
TonyDAntonio
Posts: 626
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:32 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by TonyDAntonio »

JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:08 pm
hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
Let me know the next time someone asks you for the permits for your lights. 😄
rebellovw
Posts: 985
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:30 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by rebellovw »

Geez - permits for lighting? I must be the Charles Mansion of home ownership and DIY projects.
User avatar
mmmodem
Posts: 2417
Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 1:22 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by mmmodem »

Not a licensed electrician but I hooked up my ceiling fan and installed updated light switches. Not a licensed plumber but I unclog my own toilet and installed my kitchen faucet and garbage disposal. Not a licensed mechanic but I do my own vehicle fluid changes. Not a licensed CPA or an FA but I do my own taxes and investments. These aren't easy things to do. But they're not difficult either if you're willing to learn. Just be careful and the internet is full of armchair quarterbacks to tell you what to do.
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 8041
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by JoeRetire »

TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:13 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:08 pm
hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
Let me know the next time someone asks you for the permits for your lights. 😄
When we sold our primary residence 2 years ago, we were asked for the permits for work done 30 years ago. So yeah.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
TonyDAntonio
Posts: 626
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:32 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by TonyDAntonio »

JoeRetire wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:47 pm
TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:13 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:08 pm
hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
Let me know the next time someone asks you for the permits for your lights. 😄
When we sold our primary residence 2 years ago, we were asked for the permits for work done 30 years ago. So yeah.
And of course you said, "the lighting came with the house".
TonyDAntonio
Posts: 626
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2016 8:32 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by TonyDAntonio »

Is there anyone who posted on this thread that doesn't drive because they could kill someone while driving? I mean you could literally eliminate that worry by taking Uber everywhere.
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 8041
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by JoeRetire »

TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:06 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:47 pm
TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:13 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:08 pm
hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm

To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
Let me know the next time someone asks you for the permits for your lights. 😄
When we sold our primary residence 2 years ago, we were asked for the permits for work done 30 years ago. So yeah.
And of course you said, "the lighting came with the house".
Actually, I said "The work was done 30 years ago."
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
Normchad
Posts: 2324
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:20 am

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Normchad »

JoeRetire wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:47 pm
TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:13 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:08 pm
hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
Let me know the next time someone asks you for the permits for your lights. 😄
When we sold our primary residence 2 years ago, we were asked for the permits for work done 30 years ago. So yeah.
See Joe! Somebody who writes a nice letter wouldn't ask you that :)

Actually, nobody has asked me either. But if they did, I'd just say I hired a guy. And then claim ignorance about permits, etc. If they put up a stink, I'd just move on to the next buyer.
inbox788
Posts: 8192
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by inbox788 »

TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:06 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:47 pmWhen we sold our primary residence 2 years ago, we were asked for the permits for work done 30 years ago. So yeah.
And of course you said, "the lighting came with the house".
I changed the all the lightbulbs in my house without a permit. So sue me. And I'd do it again!

Those were quite advanced LED lights from 30 years ago.

OP, it's not all or none. Apply common sense. If you have trouble turning off the circuit breaker when wiring and changing fixtures and switches, then this isn't for you.

https://youtu.be/MqX9573kko0?t=5
User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 8041
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by JoeRetire »

Normchad wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:18 pm See Joe! Somebody who writes a nice letter wouldn't ask you that :)
They did write one of the nice letters. They asked after the inspection.
But if they did, I'd just say I hired a guy. And then claim ignorance about permits, etc.
Exactly what I did! "Gee. It was around 30 years ago. I'm pretty sure the electrician had a permit, but I don't keep that kind of paperwork around so long."

It didn't end up being a problem. Had it stalled things, I would have moved on to one of the 7 other offers that were above the asking price. It was a good time to be a seller.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
whomever
Posts: 1081
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by whomever »

"From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares. "

That's certainly possible. We hired an electrician once for a major project (replacing the main panel, because the existing panel was one of the brands - Zinsco - where the breakers didn't always work) and while he was there we had him install a couple of new branch circuits. In my estimation, he seemed like a competent, careful guy. I asked him some questions, for example, about why he did some things the way he did, and he had good answers. The inspector passed, and indeed praised the work.

Then I followed my normal practice and plugged one of those socket testers into each outlet ... one of which had the neutral and hot reversed.

Pros have the big advantage of experience, and the disadvantage of having to make a living doing whatever they do. They face time constraints a homeowner doesn't. They have to work even when the baby kept them up half the night, when the boss is on them to get this job done and start on the rest of the backlog. Most of their customers want a Chevy job, not a Rolls Royce job.

The same tradeoffs apply to e.g. car repairs.

(and I should emphasize I'm not slamming pros ... just that they face a certain amount of economic pressure)
User avatar
hand
Posts: 1629
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by hand »

Yeah, I'm slightly bitter after paying for a generally good quality kitchen renovation, then having to pay again later to move a gas line where the plumber "saved" a couple of bucks by cutting corners instead of taking a more sensible route, and spending hours rerouting electrical wires which had not been run to code (yet were signed off by the inspector).

On the other hand I've happily paid for some really impressive professionals/craftsmen/artists - as always the challenge is that it sometimes takes almost as much knowledge to find and oversee the right pro as it does to figure out how to do the work yourself!
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 13294
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona
Contact:

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Sandtrap »

JoeRetire wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:47 pm
TonyDAntonio wrote: Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:13 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:08 pm
hand wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 1:50 pm
JoeRetire wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:02 pm
Hire someone with experience. It's not rocket surgery, but they license electricians for a reason.
To increase pricing power by artificially limiting supply? :sharebeer

Like many trades and professions, electrical work comprises of some work that can be done by almost anybody with an 8th grade education, and some work that requires specialized skill and knowledge. Installing can lights is in the former category, and is work that is often done by apprentices or laborers loosely overseen by an actual electrician. If one is confident that they can tell the difference between what requires skill and what is work, and execute the work correctly, there is no reason the average homeowner can't install their own lights, especially if they pull a permit and get the work inspected.

From my limited experience, pros who have little agency in the final result other than a paycheck and the foregone conclusion of a wink and a nod from an inspector, can end up doing a worse job than an armature homeowner who cares.
Tell that to someone who buys your house and asks about permits.
Let me know the next time someone asks you for the permits for your lights. 😄
When we sold our primary residence 2 years ago, we were asked for the permits for work done 30 years ago. So yeah.
+1
Much of the time, DIY home projects without a permit (that need a permit) fly under the radar and are never an issue, even if the home is sold.
. . . but. . .
later on, if something does need a permit such as a larger remodel, addition, or alternation, and a permit is done and the home is inspected, building inspectors might or might not spot "non permited" work or a DIY vs Professional installation or alteration of existing, then require "as built" plans and a permit to be run. This might be as simple as a plans alteration and additional permit fee, or turn into a "money pit" that might involve having an architect or engineer certify new plans and permits and things brought up to code.

(dislaimer) The above from 100's of real life experiences in business. (there are always exceptions per person's experiences).

For example:
Customer wants a basement build out and full foundation rebuild to support an addition on a lower level split level hillside home.
Permits are run. Everything goes fine.
Inspector does a site inspection and notices that a full wraparound deck has the wrong picket spacing (too wide) and also the home's roof rafters have never been retrofitted per code with hurricane ties.
Guess what?
Yep.

So, if a homeowner or DIYer chooses not to run a permit for something that "needs a permit", it may or not turn into something for that homeowner or the next homeowner. Results vary. Experiences vary. Opinions vary.
But. . it is good to be aware of these types of things.

Additionally, many building departments are "complaint driven". Which likely does not apply to this thread.
For example:
Building inspector: "Why did you run a permit for your horse barn/stables? Nobody around here ever bothers with that. Did you get a neighbor complaint?"
Owner who paid for expensive engineered, certified, as built plans for an existing barn/stable building: "No no complaint, just being careful."
Building inspector: "Good idea to do all this now. I've seen neighbors turning in neighbors. It get's ugly."

j :D
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
Ramjet
Posts: 851
Joined: Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:45 am
Location: Ohio

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Ramjet »

My brother did it with no previous experience

Looks great. Youtube was his friend
VT & HFEA
jebmke
Posts: 12669
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm
Location: Delmarva Peninsula

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by jebmke »

When we lived in Milwaukee, my wife installed a dropped ceiling (she framed and installed the lighting, including connection to the J-Box). Then she had the city come in and inspect. Then we had a sheet-rock hanger come in and finish this ceiling as well as do some other work. Some jurisdictions may only require an inspection certificate rather than a permit for some types of work.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
mancich
Posts: 956
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:05 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by mancich »

We have a dozen of those can-less thin wafer LED lights and they look great. As for an electrician, I would hire one if you don't know what you're doing. To me it's not worth the safety risk but everyone is different :beer
wilked
Posts: 1932
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by wilked »

It's pretty easy. My vote is no permit, DIY

Important points:
-If you have insulation around the lights, you need to buy lights that are rated for insulation contact
-If you buy the lights that clip into regular drywall, make sure you have regular drywall. Plaster won't work with those
-If you have access to the ceiling from above, I'd buy ones with stringer bars. They are more robust. Just need to plan them and make sure no interferences with ceiling joists
-If you get LEDs, practically you won't need to worry about amp draw on a circuit. They don't use much
-Buy a NCVT. It's a little wand that when you put it next to a wire it lights up if there is current. It's like $10-20. Always test on a known live wire for functionality each time before you use it on a project. This is your way to know the wiring is dead.
-I imagine this will be a switched light. Are you using an existing switch? Is it a 3 way switch? Do you wish it was a 3 way switch? Now is the time to get the switches correct. I'd say if you need to modify switches that would be the point to hire help.
-Don't fall through the ceiling
flyfishers83
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:08 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by flyfishers83 »

One suggestion-If you're going to use LEDs, test them before installing all of them. There is a huge range in brightness and color these days, and you probably can't simply replace the bulb if you install and don't like. We went through this when retrofitting existing can lights with LEDs. You'd hate to install them all, flip the switch and be disappointed.
Supergrover
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2021 3:15 pm

Re: DIY recessed lighting installation?

Post by Supergrover »

I’m struggling with this one. If it was painting your house, DIY is ok. But some trades are not just grunt work. Electrical is nothing to mess with! I don’t think it’s financially smart to do something that should be left to a professional. Maybe because I’ve had some bad experiences...and it’s hard to look at shoddy work every day.

I’m pretty new to the forum and sometimes worry that I won’t be polite. But when I read (a while ago) that someone here paid a tradesman to teach them how to install a window, and then installed their other ten windows themselves, I had to shake my head. Do you really think your gonna learn from one video all the knowledge and nuances of the contractors profession?

I just don’t get the financial smarts in that.
Post Reply