Recessed lights are the bane of my life. What can I do?

Sometimes they go on, sometimes not. Is it possible to revert to the old-style centre light?

Over the past 10 years, technology in recessed light fittings has significantly improved. Photograph: Istock

Over the past 10 years, technology in recessed light fittings has significantly improved. Photograph: Istock

 

Q: I bought and renovated a house in 2007 and in doing so put in recessed lighting in the bedrooms. They are the bane of my life. Sometimes they go on, sometimes not. Then I buy new bulbs, which are very difficult to insert as the ceiling is high.

Is it possible to revert to the old-style centre light? Would the ceiling be messed with too much? At the moment we rely on lamps at the side of the beds, but I would like some ceiling lighting.

A:Your frustration is fully justified and like you, I had a number of recessed light fittings in my home which were either not working or appeared too tricky for me to replace.

However, the use of recessed ceiling lighting has become extremely popular for the simple reason that they do not clutter a ceiling. They also provide a really bright output of light on to the space and in the presence of low ceilings recessed lightings are a perfect solution.

Depending on whether your home is a single storey or multi-storey dwelling, there will be a certain amount of work involved in the removal of the existing recessed light fittings and for the installation of a centrally located ceiling pendant light.

The removal and replacement of the existing recessed light fittings should be undertaken by a qualified electrical contractor.

The openings in the ceiling will need to be neatly filled. However, this may prove difficult to have the openings blend in with the ceiling.

The introduction of a new centrally located ceiling light pendant should be incorporated. If your dwelling is single storey then most of the enabling works can be carried out from the roof space above. However, if your dwelling is a multi-storey property then you may have to lift some floor boards in the room above to allow for access to the ceiling void for the purposes of installing the new ceiling light.

Improved recessed lighting

Depending on where your recessed light fittings are positioned at present, you may be lucky in that your electrician may be able to “fish” cables over to where the new centrally located ceiling light pendant is to be positioned through the ceiling void.

On the down side, if you are removing the existing spot lights from your ceiling, it may be very difficult to neatly fill and conceal the resultant ceiling openings.

I note that you renovated your home some 10 years ago and in this time technology in recessed light fittings has significantly improved. LED (light emitting diodes) recessed fittings on the market today are particularly energy efficient and these fittings typically come with a five-year manufacturer’s guarantee. Where these are properly installed, they will provide you with years of trouble-free lighting.

Unless you do not particularly like recessed light fittings now, I would recommend that you consider replacing your old fittings with new good quality recessed LED fittings. Always take care when working at heights.

Andrew O’Gorman is a Chartered Building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie