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M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:08 pm
by nrainham
Just found your site, browsed all your DIY videos and I LOVE the fact that you're in Canada! You are now my "go-to" for all things that need doing around the house. Here's my situation: I have pot lights that are MR16 Type GX5.3 and I would like to replace them with LED luminaires that have screw in sockets and are meant to "easily" retrofit halogen pot lights-Ha! My existing pots won't accomodate a screw in socket and I need to find out how to make the new lights work in the old pots. I have 12 of these that need replacing.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:12 pm
by Aaron
Looks like your existing fixture takes MR16-type halogen bulbs. This may be a low-voltage fixture! If that's the case the transformer is somewhere--perhaps above the fixture housing itself where the wiring would be.

If so, you cannot use that kit above, because that is a retrofit for a 120V fixture.

I believe there should be some low-voltage LED bulbs available for MR16 sockets.

Low-voltage halogen puts out great warm light. I personally would stick with it.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:18 pm
by Shannon
Thanks for coming to the forum.
I'm not sure this is an easy conversion with the pots you have and the retro units you have . Why not remove the cans and install LED slims in the existing spots?
See those two screws way up at the top of the cans? those are connected to the clamps (the small metal strips coming down the two sides) Loosen those two screws , push them up and that should release the two side clamps so they pop into the can through that slot. The can will then drop out of the ceiling and you can disconnect the electrical and install a new slim light.
Measure the existing hole in the drywall and either find a slim that will fit it or cut the hole larger to accommodate the slims.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:51 am
by nrainham
Aaron wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:12 pm
Looks like your existing fixture takes MR16-type halogen bulbs. This may be a low-voltage fixture! If that's the case the transformer is somewhere--perhaps above the fixture housing itself where the wiring would be.

If so, you cannot use that kit above, because that is a retrofit for a 120V fixture.

I believe there should be some low-voltage LED bulbs available for MR16 sockets.

Low-voltage halogen puts out great warm light. I personally would stick with it.
Thanks for pointing out that the two fixtures are of different voltages (most likely). I was hoping to get rid of the transformers because they will fail at some point in the near future and the cost of low-V MR16 LED bulbs is higher than what I paid for the new fixtures! Looks like I've got a dozen brand new fixtures to sell.....

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:10 am
by nrainham
Shannon wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:18 pm
Thanks for coming to the forum.
I'm not sure this is an easy conversion with the pots you have and the retro units you have . Why not remove the cans and install LED slims in the existing spots?
See those two screws way up at the top of the cans? those are connected to the clamps (the small metal strips coming down the two sides) Loosen those two screws , push them up and that should release the two side clamps so they pop into the can through that slot. The can will then drop out of the ceiling and you can disconnect the electrical and install a new slim light.
Measure the existing hole in the drywall and either find a slim that will fit it or cut the hole larger to accommodate the slims.
If I remove the cans I assume I will also have to remove the transformers from the old fixtures. Also, the 12 lights I have are operated by 3 switches; I believe they are wired in parallel because if one bulb burns out the others still work. Any special considerations if I go with LED slims?

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:13 am
by Aaron
Do you know for sure those lights each have a transformer? You can test with a volt-ohm meter to see what voltage exists at the MR16 socket. Also if you look at the former bulbs take out, the markings on them may indicate whether they're low voltage or not.

If you have 120V then you could just splice in that retro kit.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:01 pm
by Shannon
yes check first like Aaron said and report back. That sticker in the can picture will likely tell you.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:50 am
by nrainham
Shannon wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:01 pm
yes check first like Aaron said and report back. That sticker in the can picture will likely tell you.
Removed the can from the ceiling but can't see what's inside the metal box that's still up there. Not at all sure what I've got or how to go about changing out the existing fixtures.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:12 am
by nrainham
Looking at possibly going with Shannon's suggestion of using LED slims. Would need some (okay, probably very detailed) guidance with the hook-up.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:50 am
by Aaron
There's a metal box still up there? I shouldn't be attached to anything; you should be able to pull it through the hole. You basically need access to 120V, regardless of what lighting you go with.

Those red/blue wires make be suspicious you have a transformer of some sort up there.

The sticker says 120V but that could just mean that it's the supply voltage required for the light fixture and the transformer (being that it's North America).

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:16 am
by emtnut
That's a new construction IC can.

You can still install the slim LED in the opening, but you will have to find where the power (120V) comes into the can.

If you don't have access through the hole, you'll need to do this from above. Hopefully you have access up there ! ??

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:13 am
by Shannon
I agree that is an IC can so it wont come through the hole at all. Why two sets of wires? Whats on the ends?

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:50 am
by Aaron
Shannon wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:13 am
I agree that is an IC can so it wont come through the hole at all. Why two sets of wires? Whats on the ends?
Looking at that pic with the two sets of wires more carefully, it looks like there's a box shroud in the joist cavity. You can sort of see it through the hole in the drywall.

You covered that in one of your videos, I think it's the one where a big vapor barrier pocket goes around the shroud.

In that case where are the splices for the light made? Inside a junction box in the shroud I'd imagine?

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:58 pm
by nrainham
Two sets of wires, presumably because another pot light is connected to the one I've removed (in parallel, both come on with the same light switch). Another switch has 6 lights that all come on together. Hope I can just splice the new LED slim wiring to the wires that I can see and reach because that IC can is not a work-friendly space and I see no junction box in there, just wires coming from a rubber seal in the side of the IC can.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:58 pm
by Aaron
Yikes... so the wires that come into the can just goes through a grommet in the housing that is up above in the drywall of the ceiling through the can hole? If so, that would mean that the 120V connection might reside outside of the housing. In that case, you'd need to cut away ceiling drywall to access it. And then, of course, you'd do it at each light. :?

But I do see a white wire also, which makes me think it's a 120V neutral that may be paired with a black wire that would be the hot. You can test for the presence of 120V using a volt-ohm meter. If it's the case, it will save you a ton of grief. But that would still lead me to wonder where the heck the transformer is. If it's outside the housing, why would 120V even enter the housing?

You should be able to pull apart those white plastic disconnects if you haven't already. They are usually a pretty tight connection so you may need someone to hold the light and use two pairs of pliers to really yank them apart. That would enable you to probe the electrodes inside with a volt-ohm meter to read the voltage.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:17 pm
by emtnut
Most MR16 bulbs are low voltage, so where the 2 wires come in from the grommet on the IC can, there is probably a transformer on the outside of that can.

In the dome part, the 2 black wires look like they go to a temp switch (to shut down light in a high temp condition). The other 2 wires, you need to measure the voltage there ... that, or access the box from the attic (or wherever it may be), and see what is there.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:52 pm
by Aaron
Oh, a limiter switch! I should have known that's what that is. That probably opens the 120v, wouldn't you say?

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:26 am
by Shannon
Ya many of those IC boxes connect on the outside since they are done during rough-in stage and are not easily assessable later on.
I think this is going to be a messy change over to get rid of these. You will likely have to cut some holes in the drywall and patch, unless there are LED bulbs to fit this type of socket?
Check you socket as Aaron described and see what you have for voltage,I'm sure it will not be 120V

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:21 am
by Aaron
It's not. The bulbs he took out were 12V.

It's what I feared, he'd have to cut out drywall. And with a textured ceiling? That would be hard to hide.

Honestly, though, I am a big fan of the bright glow of halogen bulbs. They put out a very nice warm but intensely bright light.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:35 pm
by nrainham
I get a reading of 118V on the lead with the 2 black wires (I think I have the multimeter settings correct). I really hope I can easily install the LED slims that I've ordered.

Re: M16 pot light conversion to LED

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:09 pm
by emtnut
nrainham wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:35 pm
I get a reading of 118V on the lead with the 2 black wires (I think I have the multimeter settings correct). I really hope I can easily install the LED slims that I've ordered.
Those 2 black wires go to the temp switch ... I'd think so by the pics posted.
You need to measure where the MR16 light bulb was plugged in.