A drop ceiling conceals unwanted materials and items overhead. With the new styles and different color tiles available, suspended ceilings are no longer relegated to dark basements and back rooms. A major drawback to drop ceilings is a lack of built in support for items such as overhead or recessed lights. Fortunately, there are companies who specialize in making canister light fixtures intended for use in drop ceilings. These fixtures are easy to use and are designed to work within the existing grid-work of the ceiling.
The easiest to install are canister lights. The light kits come complete with a support bracket which will snap into place above the ceiling tile. It fits neatly within the grid-work and no cutting or fitting of the bracket is necessary. Once you have the bracket in place mark the location of the canister on the ceiling tile. Use a box cutter or razor blade knife to carefully cut through the tile. The opening needs to be as neat as possible, but the light kit will contain a ring which will cover the edge of the hole and conceal any minor errors you may have made.
Before mounting the actual light fixture, attach additional hanger wires supports to the bracket. These wires will extend upwards to the overhead joists. You can attach these to the same anchor points as the hanger wires for the grid-work, or you can install new anchor points. Three to four hanger wires should be used per light fixture.
With the anchor wires in place install the light fixtures. Be certain all hanger wires are tight and the grid-work level after the light fixtures are installed. If the grid-work is not level make adjustments by twisting the hanger wires tighter, or loosen them slightly. Make small adjustments, then check the grid-work to see if it is level. Repeat this until the grid-work is level in all areas.
Once all light fixtures are installed, begin running your wiring. Make certain all electrical power is off in the area before beginning and work on the wiring. Electrical codes require the wiring be supported by hanger wires other than those supporting the grid-work. The wires also cannot be laid atop the ceiling grid, they must be supported in some manner. Connect each light fixture making certain no bare wires are exposed and all connections are tight and secure. Once all connections are completed, turn the power back on and test each light fixture.