Recessed Lighting is one of the more common types of lighting found in homes today because of it's simplicity, modern design and utility. They offer the advantages of being a hidden light source and especially with LED, energy efficiency.
Recessed lights are also referred to as down lights, pot lights and can or canister lights. Generally speaking, they are light fixtures that are installed into an opening in the ceiling which concentrates the light in a downward direction; sometimes these lights are adjustable.
Components of a Recessed Lighting Fixture
There are three basic components to a recessed lighting fixture: the housing, trim and bulb.
Housings: Before LED recessed lighting became popular, the housing was more of an issue. Considerations might include voltage (low voltage or line voltage), whether the space is a new constructions of remodel, whether it will make contact with the insulation in the ceiling and whether it can fit the available space. For example a slanted ceiling might require slope lights. Size is an also an option, with 4 inch being most common, followed by 6 inch.
Trim Styles: The trim is the visible outer edge of the light housing that you can see in the ceiling.. Typically they are white, by also come in other colours, including aluminum, black, brass and more. Baffle trims feature grooves which help to absorb excess light. Adjustable or gimbal style trims allow the light to turn and focus in a particular area, making them good for highlighting a certain area of the room. Reflector trims can enhance the lighting in the room and are good for high ceilings. Wall washed and glass trims provide additional options for design.
Bulb: Before LED, the bulb (lamp) was somewhat of an issue, typically recessed lighting were halogen, incandescent or compact fluorescent. In some cases these lamps can be retrofitted with an LED lamp that fits the base. Incandescent and halogen lights use more energy and produce more heat.
Today, most recessed lighting is LED, meaning there is no lamp. The driver (power supply) and LEDs are incorporated into the fixture. They are available in multiple styles and light colours and the nice thing is you won't need to change the bulb for 10-20 years, depending on usage.They are also energy efficient, can be dimmable and have no mercury.
IC Rated Housings: These are rated for direct insulation contact and may be used in attics or other places where the fixture would sit close the insulation without risk of fire.
Non IC Rated Housings: Non IC-rated housings would be suitable for areas where there is sufficient space (typically at least 3 inches) between the light fixture and the insulation in the ceiling.
One of the most important considerations is light colour, which is measure in Kelvin. This will set the mood for the room. In some cases the light, including LEDs can be dimmable, but the light colour still matters. Most interior lights for the home or work range between 2700K (soft and warm) to 6500K (cool white and bright). For a space like a living room where people will relax, its more likely you would want a warm white light, in the range of 2700K to 3200K, which provides a soft, pleasant mood. If the space will be used for work for an extended period, it's more likely you want light colour in the range of 5000K, which provides more of a bluish white light.
How many recessed lights do you need?
Obviously the number of lights is a personal choice, but a standard rule is measure the high of the ceiling and divide it in half. This is the distance that each light should be from each other. So if the ceiling is 8 feet high, then the lights should be spaced 4 feet apart. It also depends on the type of fixture, for example, is it a spot or flood light and the desired amount of light, but this is a general rule.
Why choose LED Recessed Lighting?
LED Recessed lighting offers numerous advantages, including energy efficiency, ease of installation and both upfront and long term cost. LEDs are typically 5 times more energy efficient, which will reduce your power bill significantly in the long term. The cost for these fixtures has come to around $15 for a basic light, which is not bad, considering it should last 10 years or more.
In part 2 of this blog post we will cover other considerations when selecting recessed lighting.