Replacing more light fixtures

A few years ago, we had an energy audit and replaced all our bucket light fixtures with cooler, more efficient ones that would allow us to insulate the holes they created in the ceiling.  (The electrician DH tried to hire basically told him that was the best option and to do it all himself instead of paying the electrician, so he did.)

This year one of the fluorescent ballasts in the kitchen sort of broke (it could still be used, but even with a brand new bulb, it took a long time to turn on and then still flickered and after some observation DH suspected it might be dangerous).  The fluorescents in a couple of the other rooms, including my closet, weren’t in that great shape anyway (nothing like a strobe effect to trigger migraines…), and DH wanted to move to LEDs, especially since the fluorescent hum was driving him crazy.  Although LEDs fit in the sockets it wasn’t clear that just swapping them in was safe given the various electric ratings.

Given our track record of the electrician coming out only to tell DH how to do small jobs himself, we decided it was time to get rid of all of our fluorescent lighting (make it a big job!).

Here’s what that consisted of, according to the electrician’s quote:


The quote for all of this was $925.  That’s a lot!  But it’s also 11 light fixtures.  (Some of the big rectangular fluorescent lights were actually two ballasts next to each other.)

According to DH, two of them worked for three hours, installing 5 fixtures’ worth of line-fed tubular LEDs, removing 6 fixtures and replacing with disk lights.

$12 per tubular LED Keystone KT-LED15T8-48GC-850-DX2
$30 per disk light SunSet 15W LED by Luminance

5*2*12 = $120 for the tubulars.
6*30 = $180 for the disks.

So $300 in parts, let’s round up to $350 for incidentals (ex. wires, putty for the holes left by the fluorescent ballasts, extra screws. etc.).

The quote was for $925. So $575 in labor.
$575 / 2 / 3 = $95.8/ person hour.  Which is a little high but is within a reasonable range of going rates for the area.  And it helps assuage a little of the guilt I had for us calling the electrician out twice before only to have him give DH good advice and detailed instructions for what to do in exchange for no money.

Overall we are really happy with the results.  One exception was that the light in my closet wasn’t bright enough and left eerie shadows.  Fortunately that was an easy $30 disc light swap that we could do ourselves.  Though now we have an extra light in case one of the other ones breaks sometime before the 22 year expected life of the new LEDs…

What kind of lighting do you have in your place? 


14 Responses to “Replacing more light fixtures”

  1. Leah Says:

    Yay for new lights!

    In the grand scheme of things, $1,000 is not so bad for both nice lights and no more annoyance from lights. Not having to change lightbulbs alone should be worth it.

  2. Susan Says:

    We had 27 recessed cans and incandescent bulbs in our ranch that the energy audit identified as leaking air into the attic. That’s a lot of leaks! I replaced all of them with LED cans that are closed/sealed, and I used an insulation ring where the base meets the ceiling for good measure. The electric bill actually dropped after that.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:


      I’m not sure if our electricity bill changed or not when we replaced things… we did the can insulation changes in the winter when we weren’t using a/c anyway (because that’s the best time to go into the attic!) and it’s hard to compare across different summers (and there was a tax increase…).

  3. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    We have almost all LEDs now—a couple old compact fluorescents in closets that we’ll replace with LED bulbs when they fail, and on set of cove lights that are still fluorescents that we’ll replace sometime in the next couple of years (we rarely use those cove lights).

    I have two blog posts about replacing fluorescents with LEDs:

  4. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    You’ve inspired me to replace our horrible fluorescent over-sink light. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before – I knock down walls and rewire outlets, but lights…

  5. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We have over 20 recessed cans using LEDs but now Susan’s comment has me wondering if ours are sealed like they should be because we clearly have an insulation problem somewhere around here. We were lucky enough to be able to just do the lights right the first time when we did the reno here.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    We replaced every light fixture during the renovation of our (rented) house, most have LED but a couple are CFL. The electrician was only needed for the lamp/heat/exhaust fan fixture in the bathroom. I think that amount of money for that number of fixtures is very fair.

    Also, I should have been an electrician. Why I bothered with college/grad school instead of vocational school is an ongoing conundrum.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Apprenticeships are pretty competitive and they take 5+ years. People say, “what if my kid wants to be a plumber/electrician” and so on, but they don’t have any real idea of how one goes about doing that. It’s not like you get a 2 year AA degree and bam you can set up an shingle.

  7. Time to think about the kitchen remodel again | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] that’s it.  We already replaced the fluorescent lighting and we already have fancy under lighting.  The cabinets already have all sorts of fancy drawer […]

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