Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Converting a Recessed Light to a Hanging Pendant Light

Converting a recessed light on PBJstoriesRecessed lighting can be a great feature to have in a home, especially in the kitchen.  It’s a convenient way to provide a lot of light without taking up space.  We have a good size kitchen with lots of open space and within the kitchen area we had 6 recessed lights so that’s quite a bit of light for an open layout.  This allowed us though to play with the idea of changing out some of those recessed lights and replace with hanging pendants for more feature pieces during our kitchen makeover.  We had the perfect spots for them too, two above our breakfast bar, and one above our kitchen sink. 
You don’t need to have any previous electrical experience to change out a recessed light to a pendant because there are converter kits on the market that make the process super easy.  Plus, I’m gonna show you how we did it step by step!

Keep in mind that each kit may vary slightly, and your specific conditions may vary from mine.  But generally, each step should be about the same.

We used the Burnes Lighting Recessed Light Convert Kit and found it at my local Lowe’s and came with these following pieces:
Burnes Converter Kit
Remember safety first! Cut to off the electricity to your lights before you begin.

This is a picture heavy tutorial so you should be able to understand how to do it just by seeing the pictures but just in case I’ll describe too!  Again, your specific converter kit may slightly vary, and you should always reference the original instructions when doing your own project.  But this is how I did it with the Burnes kit:
Removing the can from the recessed light is easy, just pry it down slightly from the ceiling and you’ll see two metal clamps that you’ll want to pinch, and then pull down.  The whole can part will come down and then you’ll see on the light bulb attachment piece, two more clamps.  Push those and you’ll be able to remove the outer can piece.
From the kit, screw in the wire set that has the light bulb attachment piece.  One end will screw into the light bulb piece, the other will have a metal clasp on it.  This piece is what you’ll screw into the side of the metal can that’s recessed in the ceiling to keep everything upward.DSC_7393b
This next step was what we found to be the easiest to install the ceiling attachment piece.  We held up the part that screws into he ceiling and made three marks evenly spaced around the piece. 

Next using a 1/8th drill bit (teeny tiny one) we pre-drilled the marks we made.  The reason we did this step wasn’t for the anchors we were using but double checking we were going to be able to completely drill in those spots.  Each can light has a metal box that’s attached to it that houses all the electrical wiring.  Where that box is located can vary light to light so there may be a few spots that you wouldn’t be able to screw an anchor into because you’d hit the box.  Doing these pre-drills double checks that we have the all clear and won’t run into any problems.

The kit comes with the anchors pictured on the right.  For these ones you have to predrill and then push the anchors inward and they pressure out to “anchor” the screw when inserted.  However, I typically use these EZ anchors whenever I can.  They’re heavy duty, plus super easy to use.  You just use a standard screw driver to screw them in and that’s it.  So, we swapped out the provided anchors for these EZ Anchors.

Next attach the wire set from the provided kit and plug into the piece that you previously attached to the side of the can.  This has three coated wires that have exposed ends, and these are what you’ll attach your light fixtures wires too.

TIP: The kits cover comes white, but we painted it the same color as our ceiling to help blend in the unit.

Next, use the provided parts from your light fixture and the piece that would attach to the ceiling , you attach to the cover piece of the converter kit.
These steps will vary depending on your specific light fixture, but just follow the instructions for your specific piece and it should be easy to understand. 

You’re almost done, just connect the proper wires and attach the cap!

The kitchen before:
And after: I think the hanging pendant lights really fill the space, and help bring the space together!

Pretty easy to do especially for not needing any special electrician skills.  Again, remember to play safe and turn off the power to your lights, and then of course once you’re done to turn it back on. 

Do you agree? Do you think changing out the lights was a good idea for our space?


  1. Great tutorial! I will definitely be doing this in my kitchen soon :)

  2. Wow...this is great to know. I love how they all look, especially the one over the sink.

  3. Great tutorial ... I pinned it 'cause I know I'm going to want to remember this in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Huge thanks for your detailed explanation! It is no longer sold in Lowes or HD, but I found it on eBay! My wife love the new look of our kitchen!


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