By Gene and Katie Hamilton
One of the smartest additions we made to a bathroom was replacing an old ceiling light/vent with a smart one designed to sense when someone entered or left the room and turned itself on or off accordingly. It also senses the humidity level; when it rises, the vent turns on to remove the moisture in the room. This makes the room more comfortable and helps prevent the growth of mildew, a chronic problem in any bathroom.
When a bathroom has an existing light or vent in the ceiling an electrician will charge $256 to replace it with a new sensing combination unit. This includes the labor and material. That's the best-case scenario - a direct swap so no new wiring is required. The cost will be more if new wiring is needed or if there's not access to the ceiling joists of the bathroom so the old unit can be worked on. And if the ceiling joists run perpendicular to the direction of the vent duct, more work is needed, which will raise the cost.
Assuming there's access to the ceiling joists of the bathroom and you have electrical experience and tools, you can replace an old unit with a new one for $140 and save 45 percent. When you’re working on any electrical project, make sure to turn off the power at the circuit panel or fuse box. If there's any doubt about doing it yourself, don't. Hire an electrician because this project can get dicey if it's not a direct swap.
Wrapping up, given the average cost to install a bathroom light/vent you can compare the price of a contractor’s bid with doing it yourself. For a local cost input your ZIP Code.