Forum Thread

Converting recessed cans - fluorescent to LED

Wasser 2,444 October 24, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Since I have a bunch of LED floodlights come in, I would like to convert the recessed cans in my kitchen to LED. Currently they house 2 of the GX23 flickerthings.

Has anyone done that same thing? I guess I need to pull the ballast, and connect the wires to a screw-in socket. I do want to use the existing cans, rather than replacing them with pre-configured/expensive LED cans.

Any thoughts, places to buy sockets, experiences? Is it just not worth the hassle?

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#2
Quote from Wasser View Post :
Since I have a bunch of LED floodlights come in, I would like to convert the recessed cans in my kitchen to LED. Currently they house 2 of the GX23 flickerthings.

Has anyone done that same thing? I guess I need to pull the ballast, and connect the wires to a screw-in socket. I do want to use the existing cans, rather than replacing them with pre-configured/expensive LED cans.

Any thoughts, places to buy sockets, experiences? Is it just not worth the hassle?
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The ballasts on a florescent recessed housing are generally not very accessible. It honestly probably isn't worth the effort to try to convert them. Replacement may be easier but it's still difficult.
Are the existing fixtures remodel or new construction (do they have clips that hold them against the drywall or are they nailed in)? Do you have an accessible attic over the kitchen?

If you wait a few more years somebody may make an led replacement that works with the existing ballast, but no guarantees. The only GX23 led bulbs I can find currently are rather sketchy and could pose a major safety hazard.
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Last edited by jkee October 28, 2014 at 05:36 PM
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#3
Thanks for the reply! Perhaps I didn't make this really clear - I am not trying to find GX23 base LEDs, I want to convert the existing cans to screw-in base (E27?)

It's new construction, with clips in drywall, the cans can be pulled out, at least a few times until they get a bit loose. There is an accessible attic, but going up there sucks... loose fill insulation dust in your lungs, and roof nails in your back. Mad But may be worth it for a one time wire connecting effort.
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#4
Quote from Wasser View Post :
Thanks for the reply! Perhaps I didn't make this really clear - I am not trying to find GX23 base LEDs, I want to convert the existing cans to screw-in base
I understood that, I mentioned it as an easier option that may improve in the future.
Quote from Wasser View Post :
It's new construction, with clips in drywall, the cans can be pulled out, at least a few times until they get a bit loose. There is an accessible attic, but going up there sucks... loose fill insulation dust in your lungs, and roof nails in your back. Mad But may be worth it for a one time wire connecting effort.
Re-model style housings have a lip that prevents them from going through the hole and clips that hold them in place. You have to remove the entire housing to re-wire it or replace it but it is doable.
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#5
Quote from Wasser View Post :
Thanks for the reply! Perhaps I didn't make this really clear - I am not trying to find GX23 base LEDs, I want to convert the existing cans to screw-in base (E27?)

It's new construction, with clips in drywall, the cans can be pulled out, at least a few times until they get a bit loose. There is an accessible attic, but going up there sucks... loose fill insulation dust in your lungs, and roof nails in your back. Mad But may be worth it for a one time wire connecting effort.
Dust Masks are your friend! N95 if you can.


This reminds me I need to post my own can lighting post about adding one in the bathroom. Put this on the todo list.
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#6
Quote from jkee View Post :
Re-model style housings have a lip that prevents them from going through the hole and clips that hold them in place. You have to remove the entire housing to re-wire it or replace it but it is doable.
I will pull one out and see if I can reach the ballast from below. That would make things a bit simpler. Still need to find some retrofit screw base socket. They prolly have something like that in the local HW store.
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#7
Look at some of the florescent recessed housings they sell today so you have some idea what you're getting into: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Halo-6...5cZ1z1159x
Depending on the design, it could be quite difficult to swap the socket or bypass the ballast (but it may not be that hard). Replacing the fixture is likely to be easier.

If you can, post a picture looking up into the housing with the bulb and trim kit removed.
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Last edited by jkee October 24, 2014 at 05:40 PM
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#8
My kitchen has recessed incandescent fixtures, which I replaced with LED bulbs. Much better all-around: None have burned out, they light up instantly, and the color temperature of the light is perfect. Also, they are extremely cool and consume far less electricity. Previously, I could feel the warmth in the flood above the ceiling, but I no longer do.

I feel that their long-lasting trait makes them worth the extra cost, but the low electricity use, whiter color, and cooler running are great bonuses.
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Last edited by Rebound October 25, 2014 at 01:31 PM

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#9
You get rid of the ballast for conventional fluorescents because CFLs and LEDs have their own ballasts built into them. If the new lights are screw-ins, install them just as you would incandescent lamps.
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#10
Quote from jkee View Post :
Look at some of the florescent recessed housings they sell today so you have some idea what you're getting into: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Halo-6...5cZ1z1159x
Depending on the design, it could be quite difficult to swap the socket or bypass the ballast (but it may not be that hard). Replacing the fixture is likely to be easier.

If you can, post a picture looking up into the housing with the bulb and trim kit removed.
Thanks, yes, that's helpful to understand how these things are set up. The ballast part is probably screwed against a ceiling joist. Easiest would probably be to go up there, dig away the insulation, open the little box and disconnect the cable going into the ballast and route it into the can. I was thinking something like this [amazon.com] could work? Not sure if there is something specific for cans that would fit better.
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#11
Quote from Wasser View Post :
I was thinking something like this [amazon.com] could work? Not sure if there is something specific for cans that would fit better.
NO that would not work at all! It's hard to be sure anything exists that would work without seeing up into the housing as I previously requested a photo. Swapping out the entire fixture or housing is going to be the easiest.
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#12
Are you saying that screwing a socket like that to the inside of the can and attaching the wires would not work, or is not up to local codes?
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Last edited by Wasser October 26, 2014 at 09:47 AM
#13
Quote from Wasser View Post :
Are you saying that screwing a socket like that to the inside of the can and attaching the wires would not work, or is not up to local codes?
Both.

I've never seen a recessed fixture or trim quite like that picture. Try this, remove the bulb and then pull straight down on the trim ring to see if it will move. Don't pull too hard. Based on your picture, I can't tell if you have a remodel or new construction housing.

Are those rivets or screws beneath the bulb? If screws, try removing them.
If you poke something through the hole on the side opposite the socket how far can you go before you hit something (<3" or more than 6")?
When would you guess these were installed and in what state?

If you manage to remove the trim, please post another picture.
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Last edited by jkee October 26, 2014 at 01:16 PM
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#14
You have conventional fluorescent lamps, 2 per fixture, with an external ballast.
There are special fixtures for both the lamps and the ballast, or you may have a separate metal box for the ballast that connects to the lamp fixture through some metal armored flex conduit.



A) ballast
B) Internal Quick-Connectors
C) Hanger bars include integral spikes and captive nails on new construction
D) Accepts Quad, Triple Biax or other 4-pin compact fluorescent lamps.
E) Meets ASTM E283 standards for Air-Tight requirements.


If the ballast wasn't mounted in either, then the installer did a hack job that's probably illegal or should be illegal because ballast wiring can't be exposed, and you sure don't want something that gets as hot as a ballast to be mounted to joists. Also if you can't verify in writing that your fixture (including any ballast box) isn't certified for "zero clearance", then clear the insulation away from it, including completely remove it on top. There are "dams" to keep the insulation away, but a 4-sided box made of drywall would also be safe.

If it's going to be as difficult to replace the ballast as to redo everything, you may as well switch to fixtures for conventional screw-in incandescent lamps, and switch to screw-in LEDs or CFLs.
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Last edited by larrymoencurly October 26, 2014 at 08:41 PM
#15
Hopefully, there's a more typical recessed housing hiding beneath the trim and you don't have one these gems: http://www.lightolier.com/MKACatpdfs/1102T.PDF Which by the way is not rated for insulation contact.
I do strongly suspect you probably do have a new construction housing that can't be easily removed from below. Attic access is almost certainly going to be required and you almost certainly aren't going to want to bother modifying the existing fixture/housing.
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