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The ballast went out on one of my recessed ceiling fluorescents. I'd like to replace all 3 of the fluorescents with remodel Halo cans then put in some LED retrofits.

The existing wiring isn't long enough to reach the junction box on the replacement Halo can, so I'd need to extend it with a few more feet of NM-B. (the existing NM-B terminates at the transformer box where it's wire-nutted to the transformers, but the new Halo housing has the junction box for the wiring on a bracket a foot or so from the can).

I'd like to put a metal handy box up in the ceiling to act as a junction box for the wiring extension. I can secure it to Halo can frame in place of the transformer box (which is itself a junction box, the house wiring comes in to that box with wire nuts joining it to each of the transformers). The transformer bracket acts as a cover for this box so I can't just use it as-is as a junction box.

I know that junction boxes are supposed to be "accessible", but does hiding it behind a Halo light count as "accessible"?

(Note that this question seems to be a duplicate of Is a junction box “accessible” if it is mounted behind/above a recessed light housing?, but the answer on that question said to use the built-in Halo fixture junction box, so it didn't really answer the question about whether or not it's ok to put the junction box there)

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Accessible is a somewhat relative concept. You need to fully remove a recessed fixture from a ceiling to access the connections. This is a bit more difficult than pulling a switch to get at the wires, or even dropping a canopy style fixture, but it does meet the criteria of accessible.

But one of the main rationales for the rule seems to be to ensure a troubleshooter knows where all the connection are, that none are truly buried in the walls where they can't be found.

I don't know if the code has considered your solution, but it sounds like the box you are suggesting is buried, even though it is attached to the recessed fixture. In a sense, you are modifying the fixture in a way not contemplated by the manufacturer. But it might pass muster with some inspectors since it sounds like the junction would be accessible if you removed the can.

There is another way that might suit. The code now allows for certain in-wall splices that can be buried, such as these.

nm splice

The old wire is inserted into one section of the device, clamped, and screwed in. A new wire is inserted into the other. The halves then snap together and the resultant splice can be buried in a ceiling or wall. If feasible, the completed clamp should be attached to a framing member, but I don't think the code requires it if the wire is left in an unaccessible area.

You could attach this splice to your old wire and run a short extension to your can.

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  • I saw those splicers at the hardware store, but thought they'd have to be in a box or something, I didn't know they could be left as-is behind a wall. That's an excellent suggestion and looks like it would work better for my purpose. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), that splicer costs a bit more than a handybox+clamps+cover+connectors, but I guess that's the price of convenience. I'll leave this question open for a while to see if someone can give a definitive answer on hiding a box behind a light can, but I think yours is the best answer for me. – Johnny Aug 10 '15 at 15:21
  • @Johnny I did a reno and had to remove some boxes that had been junctions for downstream lights and outlets (the wall disappeared in the new plan). I did not want to have to rewire along a convoluted path from the last junction box, so I used these to extend the NM to the next accessible junction box. – bib Aug 10 '15 at 15:27
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I have used flush mount led lights that look like can lights but are installed in a 4 inch electrical box. The trim can't be upgraded is the only downside I have with these.

  • Ahh yeah, I looked at those, but mounting the 4" box seemed harder than putting in a retrofit can -- and, after seeing what happens to a screw-in LED bulb when it fails (foul smelling smoke and blackened plastic), I like having an entire can surrounding the light so even if it bursts into flames, it will be contained. Plus I don't think the existing wires would make it over to the box so I'd be facing the same situation. – Johnny Aug 10 '15 at 16:52

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