Retrofit Can vs. Canless Recessed Lighting: Which is Best for Your DIY?

The next time you’re thinking about renovating your kitchen or bringing some upgrades into your living room, you may find yourself wondering whether you should choose retrofit can lighting or canless recessed lighting. While both types of LED lighting work well in residential spaces, there are some pros and cons to each, depending on what your DIY goals are. From aesthetics to functionality, NuWatt is here to help you decide whether retrofit can lighting or canless recessed lighting is best for you!

What is Retrofit Can Lighting? 

Retrofitting is all about enhancing your existing lighting infrastructure for better performance. Take our 6" Black Retrofit Adjustable Can Light as a prime example; it's engineered to retrofit seamlessly into your pre-installed 5 or 6 inch can. With a traditional bulb base (TP24 or E26), this unit allows for straightforward integration with your existing fixtures. What's more, it's adjustable color temperature for versatility to fit your atmosphere.


What is Canless Recessed Lighting?

Unlike retrofit can lighting, canless recessed lighting is used to add light into areas for a newly constructed building. So, this type of lighting is great for new construction projects or DIY projects that may want to incorporate all new lighting. Our canless recessed lights do not require a can or fixture to hold the bulb in place and instead connect directly to your wiring, also eliminating the need for an additional electrical box. The end result is an ultra-thin lighting design that requires only a few inches of ceiling space to install, making it perfect to add lighting almost everywhere in your home or office.


How to Install Retrofit Can Lighting

Because retrofit can lighting is intended to be used as an addition to current lighting options, this specific type of LED lighting often requires existing housing. The housing of a light refers to the main component where electrical parts are stored. If your DIY project does not have existing housing and you still want to use retrofit lighting, you’ll need to determine the size of the housing that will fit in your ceiling prior to installing a retrofit can light. This installation process is ideal for DIY projects working off of current construction sites or are only renovating lighting areas that already exist. Simply remove the existing lamp, connect the E26 or GU 5.3 base of the retrofit unit to the current fixture's socket, secure the clips, and you're good to go—no fuss, no extensive rewiring needed.

retrofit can vs. canless recessed lights

How to Install Canless Recessed Lighting

A simpler option for DIY projects that do not already have housing units is to use canless recessed lighting instead. Unlike retrofit can lighting, canless recessed lights have a more straightforward installation process. These lights connect directly to the wiring in your ceiling and come with an electrical junction box and snap in clips for easy installation. Canless recessed lighting is a great option if you’re new to DIY, are working on a completely new construction project without current housing, or just want to simplify your lighting installation process! Cut the designated hole in the drywall, wire up the junction box, snap the spring-loaded clips in place, and you've got yourself a seamlessly installed canless recessed light—no can housing required.

Retrofit Can vs. Canless Recessed Lights

A crash course to determine which type of LED lighting is right for you:

retrofit can vs. canless lighting


Ready to choose the lighting that’s best for you? Shop NuWatt’s extensive canless recessed lighting and retrofit can lighting collections now!