2″-4.2″ Can-Free Round Recessed Light Installation Guide – aspectLED

LED recessed light installation
Installation Guides

Can-Free Round Recessed LED Light Installation Guide

Learn how to install aspectLED's can-free 2", 2.25", 3.15", 3.5", and 4.2" low voltage and line voltage single color recessed LED light fixtures.

Overview

aspectLED’s recessed lights are bright, energy efficient, attractively styled, and designed to fit into the tightest of spaces, making them perfect for virtually any residential or commercial application. We designed these lights with the installer in mind. Due to their compact size, these recessed lights can fit into tight spaces that a traditional recessed can light won’t, such as ceilings with ductwork/piping/obstructions, hot-roof ceilings with limited vertical clearance, and tight soffits. Installation is very straight-forward and is very similar to the same process you would use to install any light fixture. If you have any questions during your installation, please feel free to contact our electrician’s helpdesk at 888-503-1317 option 3 or via e-mail at support@aspectled.com.

Specifications

Round Recessed Model SKU Overall (Trim) Size Cut-Out Hole Size Wattage
2" Round AL-RL-D-2 1-15/16" Diameter 1-5/8" Round 3 Watts
2.25" Round AL-RL-S-225 2-1/4" Diameter 1-7/8" Round 3 Watts
3.15" Round AL-RL-D-315-S 3-1/16" Diameter 2-13/16" Round 3 Watts
3.15" Round AL-RL-D-315-U 3-1/16" Diameter 2-13/16" Round 9 Watts
3.5" Round AL-RL-S-35-S 3-9/16" Diameter 3" Round 3 Watts
3.5" Round AL-RL-S-35-U 3-9/16" Diameter 3" Round 9 Watts
3.5" Round (Single Array) AL-RL-S-35-10 3-9/16" Diameter 3" Round 10 Watts
4.2" Round AL-RL-S-42 4-3/16" Diameter 3-5/8" Round 6 Watts

Tools You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wire stripper
  • Jab saw
  • Screw driver
  • Drill with Hole Saw (optional)

Before You Begin

We know how boring it can be to read instructions, so we’ll keep this installation guide as short and sweet as possible. Before you begin with your installation, be sure to fully read the installation instructions. This installation guide is intended to be a helpful supplement, containing useful tips and pointers that will help to ensure a perfect installation, save you time, and ensure your safety. It is important that you install this product (and all other electrical products) in accordance with the National Electric Code (NEC) and all applicable local building and electrical codes for your area. If you are unfamiliar with the NEC, your local building/electrical codes, and/or the proper installation methods for electrical devices, you should hire a qualified and licensed electrician to do the work for you.

Before doing any electrical work, always disconnect power at the fuse or circuit breaker

Planning your layout

Most electricians space recessed lights equally apart from each other forming a grid pattern on the ceiling. The distance between each light generally depends on the LED wattage of your light. Here are a few rough rules of thumb for spacing when using the lights as primary lighting (if you are using the lights as accent lighting or you have other lights in your room, you can space them further apart):

LED Wattage Approximate Incandescent Equivalent Recommended Spacing
3 Watts 25 Watt 3W fixtures are generally used for accent/cabinet lighting and are not usually used as general room lighting. If you do use them as general lighting, you’ll want to space them roughly 2-3 feet apart.
6 Watts 50 Watt 6W fixtures are generally laid out in a grid such that they are 2’- 3’ off each wall and 4-5’ apart from each other.
9 Watts 65 Watts 9W fixtures are generally laid out in a grid such that they are 3’ off each wall and 5-6’ apart from each other.
12 Watts 75 Watt 12W fixtures are generally laid out in a grid such that they are about 4-5’ off each wall and about 6-7’ apart from each other.
18 Watts 125 Watts 18W fixtures are generally laid out in a grid such that they are 5-6’ off each wall and about 8-10’ apart from each other.

For more layout suggestions and assistance, click here.

Recommended Accessories

Light/Driver Extension Cables

These cables are used to extend the distance between the light fixture and the driver. Extension cables are available in 2’, 5’, 10’, and 25’ lengths.

New Construction Rough-In Plate/Bracket

These rough-in brackets make installing recessed LED lights in new construction applications a breeze. Simply install the rough-in plates at your designated locations before installing drywall, have your drywallers cut/router the holes for your lights using the rough-in plate as a guide, and then snap your recessed light into place after drywalling is completed.


Choosing between low voltage & line voltage

With the advent of energy efficient LED technology, light fixtures now consume much less power (up to 90% less!) than traditional light bulbs/fixtures. Since light fixtures now draw much less current, so they can use lower voltage and much smaller wire. Because of this standard line voltage (120vac) light circuits are becoming less and less common.

There are many advantages to low voltage, class 2 wiring, which include:

  • Low voltage installations do not require a junction box at each light location
  • Stranded low voltage wire is less expensive than romex or BX/MC wire
  • Wiring requirements are less stringent for class 2 low voltage wire, making it easier/faster to run your wire

There are still many applications where line voltage (120VAC wiring) makes sense. If you already have 120VAC wiring at or near the light location, or if you don’t have a place to locate your power supply (transformer), line voltage lights may be a good option.

This installation guide covers both low voltage and line voltage installations.

If you plan to use low voltage, skip to the low voltage section.

If you plan to use line voltage (120vac), skip to the line voltage section.

Low Voltage (12/24VDC) Wiring Diagram

Line Voltage (120VAC) Wiring Diagram

New Construction

For new construction applications, we recommend using aspectLED’s Rough-In Bracket/Plates.

Before installing drywall, layout your light locations and securely fasten the rough-in plate to your joists at each light location. The rough-in brackets have convenient slots in them allowing you to make minor adjustments to the bracket positioning after you’ve mounted them. Run wire (following the conventional or low clearance installation instructions below) to each of your light locations before drywalling.

Before drywalling, double check the location of each light. Once you’ve drywalled, you won’t be able to adjust the positioning.

Instruct your drywallers to cut-out the holes for each light using the rough-in bracket as a template. Then, once drywall is finished, install your lights by following the remainder of the low voltage or line voltage installation instructions below.

Low voltage installation method

  • Find a place to locate your power supply With a low voltage installation, you’ll put one or more power supplies (also called transformers) in a remote location and then you’ll run low voltage wiring out to your lights. Most electricians will find a nearby place where they can hide this power supply. Typically this is in a utility room, unfinished room/basement, cabinet, closet, or other location. It is important that you locate this power supply in a place where you can access it in the future, as electrical codes will require that it remain accessible without tearing apart things to get to it. When choosing the location for your power supply, remember that your power supply should ideally be located within about 100’ of your lights.
  • Choose the right power supply for your application We offer two types of power supplies, dimmable and non-dimmable. If you want to dim your low voltage lights, you’ll need a low voltage LED power supply.
    The first important consideration is to make sure that the voltage output of your power supply matches the input voltage of your lights. In today’s world, most customer choose 24VDC.
    To figure the size of your power supply, simply multiply the wattage of each light fixture by the total number of fixtures and then add 20%. As an example, if you are using the 3.5” 9W fixture, this fixture consumes 9 watts. If you had 6 of these, fixtures, your total consumption would be 9 watts X 6 fixtures = 54 watts. Then, add 20%. 54 watts X 1.2 = 64.8 watts. So, you’ll need at least a 64.8 watt power supply, so you can simply round up to the next nearest size power supply, in this case, an 80W.
    Remember that it never hurts to have a power supply that is larger than you need, and your power supply will only consume the amount of current (watts) necessary to power the lights that you have connected to it. For example, if you have 64 watts connected to an 80W power supply, the consumption will only be around 64 watts. If you have an undersized power supply, your lights won’t work properly.
    If you’re looking at dimmable power supplies, remember that you should never use an MLV style power supply with recessed lights. You can view a complete list of our available power supplies here.
  • Layout your light locations on the ceiling Using a tape measure and the layout/grid design that you’ve decided on, layout the location of each light on your ceiling and mark the center of each light location with a small pencil mark. The old adage of measuring twice and cutting once is worth thinking about as you’re marking your light locations. No one wants to repair or patch a ceiling because they cut their hole in the wrong spot.
  • Cut the hole that you'll install the fixture into Using the table above, find the cut-out size that you’ll need to make for your recessed LED light fixture. Draw the appropriately sized cut-out hole (round or square, depending on your fixture) on your ceiling using a pencil. Then, using a jab saw (or optionally, a drill with a holesaw for round cutouts), make a hole in your ceiling that is the correct size and shape for your light.
  • Run low voltage wire to the light location Run appropriately sized low voltage wire from your central driver location to each light location. You can daisy chain wiring from the power supply to your first light, from your first light to the second, to the third, etc. But, we never recommend exceeding 80 watts on a single wire run.
    If you choose to run your own low voltage wire from the driver box to each light, we always recommend using a 2 conductor stranded wire with a voltage rating of at least 300V. Many electricians and professionals choose to use low voltage in-wall stranded speaker wire, which tends to work excellent.
    Always consult a voltage drop chart that factors the wattage of the fixture (load) and the distance from the driver to the light (run length) in order to determine the appropriate size your wires.
    You’ll need a little bit of slack in your wire at the light location to allow you to install the light (and to remove it if you ever need to), so be sure to leave about 6-8” of wire sticking out of your hole at the light location. Also, be sure to leave some extra wire at the driver/junction box location, so you have enough slack to neatly organize your wires.
  • Mount your power supply and run 120VAC power to this location At the location where you’ve decided to install your power supply (see step 1), securely mount your power supply and provide power from the switch/dimmer location to the power supply. See your power supply's installation instructions. Once you’ve run your power to your power supply, connect the low voltage wires that you’ve ran to your lights to the output wires (positive [typically red] and negative [typically black]).
  • Connect the low voltage wires to each light driver Now, at each light location, go ahead and connect the incoming low voltage wires to the LED driver that for each light fixture using wire nuts or crimp connectors.
  • Install your light into the hole Gently lift upwards on the retention clips on each side of your light fixture and carefully push it into your cutout hole. Once the light fixture is in the hole, allow the spring-loaded retention clips to come down, holding the light firmly in place against the drywall or ceiling material. The maximum ceiling material thickness that these lights are designed to work in is 1.25”.
  • That’s it! You’re finished! Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed the low clearance installation process. Once your light is installed into the ceiling, your project is finished. Now is a great time to take a moment to sit down and enjoy your favorite beverage while giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

If you ever need to remove the light in order to access your junction box (or anything in the ceiling cavity above), simply grab hold of the sides of the light and gently pull downwards until the light comes about 1/2” down out of the hole. Before pulling the light all the way out of the hole, be sure to get a firm grip on the retention clips, so you can hold them upwards in order to avoid getting your fingers snapped in the springs. Then, pull the light the rest of the way out of the hole and gently let the retention clips back down. Remember, the retention clips have a similar strength to your average mousetrap! Be careful not to snap your fingers inside of the springs!

Line voltage (120VAC) installation

There are two different methods that you can use to install your 120VAC aspectLED recessed LED lights. The amount of vertical clearance that you have at the light location, and whether the cut-out hole for your light is large enough to accommodate your junction box, will help you to decide which method to choose.

  • Conventional Line Voltage Installation

    Assess whether you’ll be able to access the driver box for your fixture from above the ceiling or behind the wall. 2" and 2.25" 120VAC recessed lights have drivers too large to fit through the cut-out hole size, so you'll need to either have access from above the ceiling or behind the wall, remotely locate it, or use low voltage instead.

    For 3.15" and larger fixtures, if you don’t have access from above, no worries. The included driver box can fit through a cut out holes for 3.15" and larger fixtures. For all fixtures 3.5" and larger, the driver will easily fit through the hole. Note that for 3.15" fixtures, you may need to slightly enlarge a notch/small area of the hole on either side to allow for the driver to fit in and out of your cut-out hole. To accomplish this, simply hold your driver up, large end against your ceiling, centered precisely on the hole opening. Carefully trace the shape of the driver, being sure that you don't trace a hole area larger than the trim diameter of the fixture, and only trace an area the size of the box (don't enlarge the entire hole), this will appear as two slots on either side of the hole. Then, cutout these two slots to allow the driver to fit in and out of the 3.15" opening, and when installing your fixture, insert your springs in an orientation such that the springs are not located in these slots.

  • Remote Driver Line Voltage (120VAC) Installation

    If the light that you plan to use is too small to fit a driver box through its cut-out hole, and if you don’t have access from above the ceiling or behind the wall, you’ll need to remotely locate the driver for you light in a location where you can access it. For 2" and 2.25" fixtures, you typically won’t have room to fit a driver box through the cut-out hole.

  • Line voltage (120VAC conventional installation method)

    If your fixture is 3.15" or larger, or if you have access to the fixture from above the ceiling or behind the wall, or enough room to fit a junction box through your cut-out hole, this will be the fastest and most straight-forward installation method. If you don’t yet have drywall on your ceiling, please see "new construction applications" above.

    • Layout your light locations on the ceiling Using a tape measure and the layout/grid design that you’ve decided on, layout the location of each light on your ceiling and mark the center of each light location with a small pencil mark. The old adage of measuring twice and cutting once is worth thinking about as you’re marking your light locations. No one wants to repair or patch a ceiling because they cut their hole in the wrong spot.
    • Cut the hole that you’ll install the fixture into Using the table above, find the cut-out size that you’ll need to make for your recessed LED light fixture. Draw the appropriately sized cut-out hole (round or square, depending on your fixture) on your ceiling using a pencil. Then, using a jab saw (or optionally, a drill with a holesaw for round cutouts), make a hole in your ceiling that is the correct size and shape for your light.
    • Run your wire to the light location Run your electrical wire from the switch/dimmer location to your light fixture. Be sure to check your local code for which type of wire to run, most electrical codes require NM (also called Romex), BX, or MC wire. Leave about 12-16” of wire sticking out of your hole, which will give you enough wire to connect to your driver box.
    • Make your electrical connections

      Remove the wiring compartment plate on your junction box

      Make a knockout on your junction box and install the appropriate type of connector. For NM/Romex wire, you will typically use a NM/clamp connector. For BX or MC, you’ll use a connector specific to the wire that you’ve used.

      Bring your incoming wire into the junction box and strip the black and white wires. Be sure to ground the driver box by connecting the green ground wire on your driver box to your incoming ground wire using UL listed wire nuts/connectors.

      Connect the black wire in your driver box to the incoming hot/line wire (usually black). Connect the white wire in your driver box to the incoming neutral wire (usually white). Be sure to only make connections using UL Listed wire nuts/connectors.

      Once you’ve finished making your electrical connections, install your wiring compartment cover and snap it shut.

    • Connect the driver to the light Connect the driver cable plug to the plug on your light. Be sure to pay close attention to the arrows located on plug (there is one small arrow molded into the plug on the light side of the cable and one small arrow molded into the plug on the driver side of the cable). These arrows must point towards each other. Also, if you look inside the plug, you’ll notice a groove on the light side and a bump/key on the driver side. Be sure that the bump/key fits nicely into the slot. Screw the connectors together.
      It is important to remember that each model light has its own specific driver and drivers are NOT interchangeable between different model lights.
    • Tuck the driver box through the hole Carefully tuck the driver box up through the hole and allow it to sit on the ceiling at or near the light location. If your code/jurisdiction requires you to fasten the driver box to a nearby truss, stud, structural component, or other approved member using the keyhole slots provided on the back of the driver box.
    • Install your light into the hole After you’ve verified that your light cord is connected to the driver output cord, gently lift upwards on the retention clips on each side of your light fixture and carefully push it into your cut-out hole. Once the light fixture is in the hole, allow the spring-loaded retention clips to come down, holding the light firmly in place against the drywall or ceiling material. The maximum ceiling material thickness that these lights are designed to work in is 1.25".
    • That’s it! You’re finished! Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed the conventional installation process. Once your light is installed into the ceiling, your project is finished. Now is a great time to take a moment to sit down and enjoy your favorite beverage while giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

    If you ever need to remove the light in order to access your driver box (or anything in the ceiling cavity above), simply grab hold of the sides of the light and gently pull downwards until the light comes about 1/2" down out of the hole. Before pulling the light all the way out of the hole, be sure to get a firm grip on the retention clips, so you can hold them upwards in order to avoid getting your fingers snapped in the springs. Then, pull the light the rest of the way out of the hole and gently let the retention clips back down. Remember, the retention clips have a similar strength to your average mousetrap! Be careful not to snap your fingers inside of the springs!

    Line voltage remote driver installation method

    • Find a place to locate your drivers With the remote driver installation method, you’ll put all of your drivers together in a remote location. Most electricians will find a nearby place where they can hide them. Typically this is in a utility room, unfinished room/basement, large cabinet, utility closet, or other location. It is important that you locate them in a place where you can access them in the future, as electrical codes will require that it remain accessible without tearing apart things to get to it. When choosing the location for your drivers, remember that your drivers should be located within 100 feet of your lights and the wire size between your lights and drivers needs to be of an appropriate gauge to account for any voltage drop.
    • Layout your light locations on the ceiling Using a tape measure and the layout/grid design that you’ve decided on (see above), layout the location of each light on your ceiling and mark the center of each light location with a small pencil mark. The old adage of measuring twice and cutting once is worth thinking about as you’re marking your light locations. No one wants to repair or patch a ceiling because they cut their hole in the wrong spot.
    • Cut the hole that you’ll install the fixture into Using the "Specifications" table above, find the cut-out size that you’ll need to make for your recessed LED light fixture. Draw the appropriately sized cut-out hole (round or square, depending on your fixture) on your ceiling using a pencil. Then, using a jab saw (or optionally, a drill with a holesaw for round cutouts), make a hole in your ceiling that is the correct size and shape for your light.
    • Run extension cables or low voltage wire to the light location Run aspectLED recessed light extension cables, or low voltage wire from your central driver location to each light location. Remember that you must run one aspectLED extension cable (or run of low voltage wire) for each light. You can not daisy chain multiple lights together.
      If you are using aspectLED extension cables, always purchase the appropriate length cable and never connect multiple extension cables together.
      If you choose to run your own low voltage wire from the driver box to each light, be sure to use a 2 conductor stranded wire with a voltage rating of at least 300V.
      Always consult a voltage drop chart that factors the wattage of the fixture (load) and the distance from the driver to the light (run length) in order to determine the appropriate size your wires. If you use the aspectLED extension cables, we’ve already done the sizing for you.
      You’ll need a little bit of slack in your wire at the light location to allow you to install the light (and to remove it if you ever need to), so be sure to leave about 6-8” of wire sticking out of your hole at the light location. Also, be sure to leave some extra wire at the driver/junction box location, so you have enough slack to neatly organize your wires.
    • Mount your driver box and run 120VAC power to this location At the location where you’ve decided to install your driver box and drivers (see step 1), securely mount your junction box. Run your electrical wire from the switch/dimmer location to the driver box. Be sure to check your local code for which type of wire to run, most electrical codes require NM (also called Romex), BX, or MC wire. Leave enough wire to connect to your driver box. Make a knockout in the box for you to bring your 120VAC power feed into the wiring compartment, and use an appropriate connector.
    • Wire your drivers Neatly connect your 120VAC power feed to each of the drivers, connecting the black (hot/line) wire from your driver(s) to the incoming hot/line wire, which is typically black. Then, connect the white (neutral) wire from your driver(s) to the incoming neutral wire, which is typically white. Be sure to appropriately ground the box by connecting your incoming ground wire to the green ground wire in the driver box.
      Also, if you're installing multiple lights, we highly recommend labeling each driver with the location of the light that it feeds.
    • Connect each driver to the light Connect the extension cable plug to the plug on your light. Be sure to pay close attention to the arrows located on plug (there is one small arrow molded into the plug on the light side of the cable and one small arrow molded into the plug on the driver side of the cable). These arrows must point towards each other. Also, if you look inside the plug, you’ll notice a groove on the light side and a bump/key on the driver side. Be sure that the bump/key fits nicely into the slot. Screw the connectors together.
      If you used your own wire for extending the distance between the driver and the light, cut off the aspectLED supplied connector on the light and driver and strip the black and red wires, then connect to your extension wire, being careful to keep the polarity consistent. We recommend using wire with a red and black conductor, making it easy to keep track of which wire is positive and negative.
      It is important to remember that each model light has its own specific driver and drivers are NOT interchangeable between different model lights.
    • Install your light into the hole Gently lift upwards on the retention clips on each side of your light fixture and carefully push it into your cutout hole. Once the light fixture is in the hole, allow the spring-loaded retention clips to come down, holding the light firmly in place against the drywall or ceiling material. The maximum ceiling material thickness that these lights are designed to work in is 1.25".
    • That’s it! You’re finished! Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed the low clearance installation process. Once your light is installed into the ceiling, your project is finished. Now is a great time to take a moment to sit down and enjoy your favorite beverage while giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

    If you ever need to remove the light in order to access anything in the ceiling cavity above, simply grab hold of the sides of the light and gently pull downwards until the light comes about 1/2” down out of the hole. Before pulling the light all the way out of the hole, be sure to get a firm grip on the retention clips, so you can hold them upwards in order to avoid getting your fingers snapped in the springs. Then, pull the light the rest of the way out of the hole and gently let the retention clips back down. Remember, the retention clips have a similar strength to your average mousetrap! Be careful not to snap your fingers inside of the springs!

    Dimming

    If you’re using the low voltage aspectLED recessed LED lights, consult the instruction guide for your power supply in order to determine the appropriate dimmer switches to use. aspectLED dimmable power supplies are designed to function with most standard incandescent-style dimmer switches. If you using the line voltage (120VAC) aspectLED recessed LED lights, and you’ve selected the dimmable option, make sure use an ELV style (LED) dimmer switch. This will be reverse phase dimming. A few popular dimmers that we have thoroughly tested are:


    Have questions or need assistance?

    We’re always here to help!
    Feel free to contact our electrician’s help desk at (888) 503-1317 option 3, or support@aspectled.com.