I have 25 can lights of various widths in a suspended ceiling in an office. All of the cans have old work frames which are screwed into the suspended ceiling frame metal. What is the easiest way to remove these? Get a right angle ratchet / driver and take out each screw attached to the framing (tight space in the ceiling, gonna be akward to get at screws vs being in attic) or dremel / snip apart the frame and leave the screwed in bits? I'm putting in flat modern LEDs with the spring clips so I could leave the framing bits in the ceiling and wouldn't harm anything. Any other approaches?


This is approximately what this looks like. (Not my office, but same idea)

The red lines are the brackets on the new construction light. The yellow lines are the screws into the ceiling grid frame.

If I access the light on either panel to the left or right, it's hard to get at the screws because you need like a right angle ratchet (not impossible though)

enter image description here

  • 1
    pics of what you see and need to work on would help.
    – RMDman
    Jan 25 at 1:34
  • Dremel is a terrible idea unless you are trying to burn the building down.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 25 at 1:35
  • What in a pain in the ass. I see the appeal of the retrofit light here, but I have a bunch of weird proprietary 3" inch halogens that I don't think there is a good way to retrofit...
    – Leroy105
    Jan 25 at 2:37
  • I’m voting to close this question because it's about a commercial installation, not Home improvement.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 25 at 12:34
  • 1
    At a minimum, if this does stay open, providing an actual pic of your actual installation would be most helpful. A pic of some random ceiling with a hand drawn "it sorta looks like this" is only going to get you some rough, random guesses.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 25 at 13:55

3 Answers 3


Keep the cans in there. Take off the trim pieces and take out the bulbs. Then buy a retrofit kit that snaps over the cans and uses a 'tail' with an edison screw to tie into the existing light socket.

No cutting or removing necessary. Might cost 2x but the time savings is worth it.

  • I've sure thought about the retrofits, but there is hard wired 3" Halogens (about 15 of the twenty cans), which look like a custom solder job and I'm not sure if any retrofit is gonna hold. The 6 inch cans you could retrofit. It is looking like an hour of work per fixture to pull it out of the ceiling and re-wire. I was hoping some could weigh in on this whose done a bunch of work with hanging ceiling, I think the original crew put in the grid ceiling, then put in all the lighting cans, and then cut tiles. Wondering if maybe I should reverse the process.
    – Leroy105
    Jan 25 at 18:32
  • We'd have to see pictures. Most light fixtures have LED replacements nowadays, and this issue is sufficiently common that I'm sure there are are commercial solutions. As for the 6 inch cans: I saw some flat LEDs with springs around them and a 'tail' that has an edison srew on the base. You unscrew the existing lightbulb, screw in the tail, and slap the flat LED into the can opening. 10 minutes per if you are slow.
    – gbronner
    Jan 25 at 19:05

Cutting metal with Dremel would work, BUT it will generate lots of sparks and create fire hazard.

Suspended ceiling material would play a role here.

Unscrewing is safer way to go.

  • 1
    I posted up a picture of what this looks framed up inside the ceiling. I got back from the office and was thinking about this: would it make more sense to remove the trim pieces to the can light, and then remove the ceiling tile, and that way you can could get at the exposed screws and remove them from the ceiling grid? Otherwise, I was originally thinking to get a ratchet and remove from each side.
    – Leroy105
    Jan 25 at 2:36
  • where did the picture go? all I can see is a drawing, I could cut through those maroon lines with scissors, but I can't tell what it would take the cut through something that I cannot see.
    – Jasen
    Jan 25 at 6:15

If it's bigger than your head Dremel is always the wrong answer.

possibly a demolition saw could work here if manual tools (shears or bolt cutters) can't easily cut the light frames.

A socket on an electric driver (impact driver or drill/driver) could work too.

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