Why Recessed Can Lights Turn On and Off

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

What is causing our recessed light to go on and off all by itself? How To Fix Recessed Flush Lights that Turn On and Off.

Blinking Recessed Can Lights

Electrical Question: What is causing our recessed light to go on and off all by itself?

  • We have an existing recessed light that was installed by the builder which is located near the shower.
  • A flat toggle switch operates the lamp.
  • My wife swears the light just comes on by itself and then off.
  • I told her to firmly switch the lamp off when using it.
  • She thinks I am the problem for not fixing a problem.
  • What is going on here (with the lamp)? condensation issues?
  • The lamp is cover by glass and has frame, any ideas?

This recessed lighting question came from: Dan, a Homeowner from Petaluma, California.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your recessed flush light question Dan.

The On and Off Problem of Recessed Lights

recessed light fixture

The High Temperature Safety Feature of Recessed Lights

  • I’m very familiar with this situation and have seen this occurrence many times.
    • What is happening is the recessed can lights have a high-temp safety switch mounted into the top of the enclosure which will turn the light off if it gets too hot.
  • The light fixture then cools down, and after a few minutes it will come back on. This is especially true with light fixtures that use incandescent light bulbs.
  • This occurrence is not a problem or fault of the light fixture, in fact it is a great safety feature that prevents the light fixture from over heating which could possibly lead to a fire.
  • This is on and off occurrence is especially noticeable with recessed light fixtures that are installed into the ceiling above a shower because of the required tempered glass lens which will decrease air circulation inside the recessed light fixture enclosure resulting in a hotter light fixture.

How To Fix Recessed Flush Lights that Turn On and Off

Reducing the Size of the Lamp

  • The remedy to stop a recessed light from going on and off is to install a light bulb with a lower wattage.
    • If the light bulb is a 60 watt then replace it with an energy saving 56 watt bulb and this will typically take care of the problem.

More about Recessed Lighting

Lighting For The Home

Recessed lighting

  • How To Install Recessed Lighting
  • This article is about recessed lighting for your home electrical improvements.
  • Discover how recessed lighting can enhance the mood of any room in your home.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

2 Responses to “Why Recessed Can Lights Turn On and Off”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Same thing here too Oscar, Check to see if your neutral wire is good. See the reply to Allan.

  2. Oscar says:

    Dave and Dan, that is true, but my situation is somehat different. Some of the low voltage lamps in the same switch turn on and others do not. After a while some will turn off and others will turn on. I think the device has gone haywire….


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