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Recessed Lighting

LED Recessed Lighting & Recessed Ceiling Lights

Recessed lighting commonly referred to as can lights, pot lights or high hats, is one of the most versatile lighting systems available. Not surprisingly, the term 'recessed' comes from the way this type of lighting is mounted. Recessed ceiling lights are one of the most affordable ways to update and illuminate your home or commercial building. However, if not properly placed they can create an uncomfortable appearance.

While recess light systems of years past were often thought of as being clunky and complicated, today's options are designed to meet almost every need. With the evolution of lighting technology, new LED systems are not only able to perform at higher standards, they're easier than ever to plan and install.

LED recessed lighting can achieve a wide-range of different lighting outcomes in both indoor and outdoor applications. Its perfect for rooms that have limited ceiling space to work with, or for instances where a large fixture would be too obtrusive.

Selecting The Best Recessed Lighting

When you are considering the installation of new or replacing existing recessed lights in your home or business, its important to new what is available. LED recessed lights come in a variety of different styles, wattages, and color temperatures. Many of them with their own unique fixtures that may suit your application's needs better. Below we will go over the most common types of LED recess lights so you can make an informative decision before you are ready to purchase.

New Construction and Remodel Recessed Lighting

When it comes to recessed lighting for new construction and remodel projects, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to select the right fixture including function, operation, and appropriate layout. Typically, recess lights have been composed of three pieces, a trim, housing and lamp type.

Recessed Lighting Trim

The recessed light trim is the finished portion of the fixture that is seen from the room below. There are a variety of different trim styles that can provide different aesthetics or manipulate how the light will be dispersed.

• The recessed lighting reflector trim has a mirrored surface that amplifies the beam spread of light to make it appear bright and vibrant. It is recommended for spaces that require high lumen output, such as kitchens and rooms with high ceilings. Recessed light reflector trim options typically come in metallic, black or white finishes with a polished interior.

• The recessed light baffle trim has large grooves that help absorb excess light, and is designed to reduce glare for a softer glow. It is typically available in black (which helps to reduce the most glare) and white (which reduces the appearance of holes in the ceiling).

• The gimbal recessed light trim allows you to control the direction of the light, providing unique displays of illumination. It features an adjustable swivel body that lets you guide the light beam as desired for your application. Its great for highlighting certain elements of your space such as architectural features, accent walls, and artwork or as display lighting. A gimbal recessed lighting trim is available in diameters of 2 to 6 inches, with varying degrees of tilt and beam angle. Directional gimbal trims are also great for sloped ceiling applications and creating wall wash effects.

Recessed Lighting Housing

The recessed light housing is the part of the fixture that isn't visible, it sits neatly above the ceiling. As previously mentioned, the housing is either a separate component or often is integrated into the full fixture. Below we'll go over the different types of recessed light housings, their ratings and where they are used.

• New construction recessed light housings are often used in new homes before the ceiling has been installed.

• Remodel recessed light housings is intended for use in areas with an existing ceiling already in place.

• (IC rated) insulated recessed light housings means the fixture is safe to be in direct contact with the insulation that is above the ceiling.

• Non IC recessed light housings requires at least 3 inches of spacing from insulation.

• Airtight recessed lights, can either be IC or non-IC rated, reduces air flow between the unconditioned space above (usually the attic) and the conditioned room below. This is very important to keep heating and cooling costs low, as well as preventing moisture problems from occurring. Most recess lighting fixtures that are available today have both IC and AT ratings.

Canless Recessed Lighting

Even though traditional recessed lighting setups are still often used, they are not the most popular. Many home and commercial building owners are choosing canless recessed lights, where no housing is needed. These fixtures are perfect for ceilings with a shallow plenum (the space that facilitates air circulation for heating and cooling), and are available in sizes ranging from 3 to 12 inches. Their compact design allows you to install them where most fixtures can't go; like under overhangs and eaves, and directly under joists for maximum layout flexibility. With many canless recess lights only being a half inch thick, not only is a housing not required, but you also don't need direct access above the ceiling for installation. Canless LED recessed lighting is IC rated, emits barely any heat to require a gap between the fixture and insulation. This means they are suitable for new construction and renovation projects.

Installation is simple and only takes a few minutes once the hole is drilled, making them great for use in bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms. You'll also get all of the benefits of LED lighting including decreased maintenance costs, energy savings, and longer lifespans. Some models have a remote driver box while others are a single unit.

Retrofit Recessed Lighting

One of the fastest and most affordable ways to upgrade your current recessed fixtures to LED is by retrofitting. You can install an LED recessed lighting retrofit into an existing housing by simply removing the original bulb and trim, and screwing in an LED module adapter into the socket. LEDs are not only 85% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, they also produce way less heat. Also, since LEDs have a much longer lifespan than other bulbs, sometimes up to ten times longer, they're virtually maintenance-free. Determining which size you need is easy, simply measure the diameter of your existing cut-out, not including the trim (the visible portion of the fixture). Most of the recessed light conversion kits on the market today can be used for both new construction and retrofit applications, which gives you a greater selection of options.

Other Recessed Lighting Options

• Regressed: Recessed light fixtures with regression means that the light source is seated higher up into the housing and the surrounding trim is deep. A full, or 'deep' regressed fixture provides less distracting glare since the light is less visible when observing the downlight from a distance.

• Dimming and Special Features: You should pay close attention to color temperature and intensity since they both can have an effect on the overall look of your space. If addressed properly, these spaces will be where you actually spend the most time. To help, we carry many LED recessed ceiling lights that are dimmer compatible, white tunable, and color changing, and we continue to add more and more products that are functional with today's smart technology.

Recessed Lighting Layout & Spacing

Determining what the layout and spacing for recessed lighting should be will depend on the ceiling height and square footage of your space. You should keep in mind there are no set rules when it comes to fixture placement. In fact, personal preference and design aesthetic is often enough to go on. A good rule of thumb is to use one recessed light fixture for every 4 to 6 feet of ceiling space. Typically, fixtures should be placed 24 inches from a wall or cabinet with 2 to 5 feet of space between them. However, not all rooms require the same amount of brightness. For example, a bedroom doesn't need as much light as a kitchen, so in this case you would use less fixtures.

The most common size for residential recessed lighting is 4 to 7 inches in diameter. The most popular size used is a 6-inch fixture. For that reason, there typically more 6-inch styles to choose from. Higher ceilings require larger diameters, typically 6 inches or above. Generally, the larger the diameter of your fixture, the wider wash of light it will deliver. Below we'll take a look at the proper way for installing recessed lighting in kitchen and bathroom.

When it comes to kitchens, 4 and 5-inch is an ideal size for providing enough lighting output above countertops for food prep and cleanup. When you begin to determine your kitchen recessed lighting layout, you'll need to focus on areas that aren't covered by other fixtures like under cabinet lighting and pendants. You need to consider where your high-traffic areas are, and focus on lighting that space. For example, gallery-style kitchens or walkways around an island should have a single row of appropriately spaced recessed LED lights that will enhance your ambient lighting scheme. Whereas wall-to-wall kitchens that have nothing in the center, a grid pattern would be your best option for even illumination throughout the space.

Installing recessed lighting in bathrooms can add both style and function to your space. It can be installed in shower stalls or over tubs, unlike decorative wall or ceiling mounted fixtures. It's important to consider ceiling recessed light fixtures as part of an overall bath lighting layout. When these fixtures are used in combination with bar lights or wall sconces around vanity spaces and mirrors, you'll end up with a layered lighting system that is hard to achieve with just ceiling fixtures alone. Keep in mind for bathrooms, you should always choose a waterproof recessed light that's rated for wet and damp locations. For instance, steam that is generated by a shower, it can create problems for fixtures that are only rated for dry locations. Whereas, an air-tight waterproof fixture is able to resist corrosion and is less likely to short circuit over time. You should always check the product page or on the hyperlinked PDF for a fixture's UL listing.

The same spacing guidelines previously mentioned for the kitchen area should be applied here. It's good practice to install recessed lighting fixtures at least 2 feet from walls and cabinets to avoid a spotlight effect on vertical surfaces. If there is too much spacing, shadows can be created throughout the room, so we recommend placing them about 4 feet apart. You should also consider using a dimmer for added control. In bath areas, dimming gives you ambient, task, and accent lighting all at the touch of a button.

Recessed Lighting FAQs

Recessed lightingis a type of lighting fixture that is intended to be installed in ceilings. These versatile fixtures are designed to fit flush with the ceiling surface for a seamless look. Since the housing and electrical wiring is hidden or recessed, these fixtures project light output downward into the space for beautiful ambient illumination.

When it comes to installing recessed lighting, there are a couple of steps that need to be followed. regardless of whether your working to on a new construction or remodel project. If your not comfortable working with electricity or your unsure how to properly install recessed lights, you should contact a licensed election rather than attempting to install the recessed lighting yourself.

Step 1

• Make sure to shut the power off to the area where the recessed lighting is being installed in at the main fuse or breaker box. If your not sure which fuse controls the power to the particular area you will be working in, shut the power off to the whole house.
• To be thorough, go ahead and make sure the wall switch that will be used to control the recessed light once they are installed is off.
• Use a volt meter to ensure there is no residual power that is flowing through the electrical wires.

Step 2

• Start out by planning the placement of your recessed lights and mark their locations.
• Use a stud finder to make sure there are no ceiling joist in the way.
• If you have access to the attic, go up an make there is no ductwork, pipes, electrical conduit or wires that could be in the way.
• Make a template of the recessed lighting that will be installed by tracing the outermost points of the light onto a piece of cardboard or paper.
• Drill a pilot hole in the center of the opening where the recess light will be installed into the ceiling.
• Cut the hole in the designated area in the ceiling where the light will be placed with the appropriate size hole saw.

Step 3

• Run the appropriate size electrical wire from the power source to a switch box and then to your first recessed light. Keep in mind you should give yourself at least 24-inches of extra wire to simply the installation process.
• Find the junction box for the recessed light and open it.
• Pull your wire through the knockout that you will be using.
• Use a wire stripper to strip back no more than half an inch of the insulation on your black (hot) and white (neutral) wires.
• Match the like-color wires and connect them using UL-listed wire connectors. For example, match black to black and white to white. The ground wire will be bare or have a green insulation.
• Make sure the wires are neatly folded inside the junction box and replace its cover.
• After completely wiring the first recessed light, you will then run electrical wire to the next opening and repeating the same process until you get to the last opening where a recessed light will be installed.

Retrofit recessed lighting is a type of lighting fixture that is specifically designed to replace existing recessed trims and bulbs. These fixtures make the process of upgrading recessed lighting as simple as possible without the need of having to re-wire or install a new recessed fixture.

When it comes to installing retrofit recessed lights, the process is pretty simple and straight forward. First, remove the trim and bulb from your existing recessed housing. Then use the included medium base E26 adapter that comes with the retrofit recessed light and screw it into the socket of the recessed can and insert the trim.

Yes, you can install recessed lighting without a can. You needs a canless recessed light, which comes with a remote driver that will allow you to insert the light into the ceiling and secure using the attached spring clips on each side of the fixture.

When it comes to canless and can recessed lighting, the main difference is the use of a housing. Canless models do not require a can, instead they come with a remote driver or have a junction box mounted to the the top of the fixture and are installed using torsion spring clips. Whereas, can recessed lighting using a housing where either a bulb and seperate trim or LED module with integrated trim are inserted.

There are several different types of recessed lighting housings and trims available. Here are some examples:

Recessed Lighting Housings

• New-construction housing: is intended for use before the ceiling is installed or when adding an addition
• Remodel housing: is designed for installation into existing ceilings
• Insulation contact (IC) rated housing: is designed to be in direct contact with insulation
• Airtight housing: is designed to reduce the airflow between an unconditioned space (typically the attic) and the condition room below

Recessed Lighting Trims

• Baffle Trim: has a ribbed interior to minimize glare
• Reflector Trim: has a mirrored surface to reflect the light output
• Open Trim: allows the bulb to fit flush with the ceiling
• Gimbal Trim: allows the bulb to pivot while being able sit flush with the ceiling
• Pinhole Trim: allows the light output to be projected in a tight beam spread
• Wall-Wash Trim: features a shield to restrict half of the light output to a specific area

Recessed lighting is designed to be installed inside a ceiling and is suitable for either commercial or residential applications. Recessed can lights are commonly used for decorative lighting, general ambient lighting, and task lighting.

Below are some of the benefits of LED recessed lighting:

• Produce less heat, while using less energy than traditional recessed lights
• LEDs are available in various color temperatures, unlike incandescent options that were only available in a yellow, warm hue
• LED recessed lights are very thin, which means they more flexibility when it comes to installation
• Dimming capabilities
• High customizable
• Environmentally friendly
• LED lights are designed to last over 50,000 hours, which means they last 2-4 times longer than incandescent light bulbs

Yes, you can used LED bulbs in recessed lighting. These bulbs are commonly referred to as bulged reflector (BR20, BR30, BR40) and parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR16, PAR20, PAR30, PAR38). You can simply remove the existing incandescent bulb and install the new LED bulb into the recessed lighting housing.

Yes, a handyman can install recessed lighting. However, it is much better to allow an experienced electrician who is insured and bonded do the work. The reason is that an electrician will be familiar with the local electrical codes and will implement the appropriate safety codes when it comes to installation, which will help to eliminate the risk of a possible fire hazard.

When it comes time to change a recessed light bulb, you should follow these important steps.

• Shut the power off to the recessed lighting fixture to allow the bulb to cool down. Typically, it will take around five minutes for an incandescent light bulb and about twenty minutes for a halogen light bulb to be completely safe to handle without the risk of getting a burn injury.
• Turn the recessed light bulb counterclockwise to loosen it. If it feels stuck and doesn't want to come out, try turning it clockwise and then counterclockwise again to free it.
• Once the recessed bulb has been has gotten to a point where you can fully grip it by hand, finish unscrewing it.
• To replace the recessed light bulb, repeat the same steps as you did to remove it in reverse.

To determine how many recessed lights that you will need will depend on the type of space they will be installed in and its overall size. Start by measuring the length, width and height of the room where the installation is taking place. Then take the ceiling height and divide it by two to determine what the appropriate spacing for the recessed lighting should be. For example, if your room has a ceiling height of 12-feet, the recessed lights should be spaced 6-feet apart and 6-feet off of the walls of the room.

For a recessed light to appropriately removed there are certain steps that need to be followed.

Step 1

• Before you begin, make sure the power that is controlling the recessed lights is completely shut off at the breaker box.
• Remove the recessed light bulb
• Remove the recessed light trim by gently prying once side loose with either a putty knife or flat head screw driver. Then pull the trim straight down and disengage the tension clips on each side.

Step 2

Depending on whether you have a recessed light that is using a remodel (old-work) can or new construction can the next step will be a little different.

• If you have a remodel recessed light, the housing is attached to the ceiling drywall and is easy to remove without having to have attic access. This type of recessed light uses spring-loaded clips to secure the housing in place. Start by prying each metal clip loose inside the housing to release it from the drywall and carefully pull it down out of the hole.

• For new construction recessed lights, the housing has to be removed from the attic or it can be cutout using a drywall saw. Keep in mind, if you decide to use the cutout method you will have to replace the damaged and missing drywall after removal.

Step 3

After the recessed light housing has been unsecured, you will have to access and disconnect the wires. Typically, the electrical wires are located inside a junction box mounted to the housing. Disconnect the wires and remove the wire nuts by turning them counter-clockwise. Then pull the wires through the Romex connector on junction box so that they are hanging freely.

Step 4

The electrical wires will then have to be terminated using an old work box. Start by inserting the box into the ceiling and hold the box in place will turning the screws to the box's attached wing brackets to secure it in place. Next, pull the wires through the convenient knockouts on the ceiling box and terminate their ends with wire nuts. Then thoroughly wrap the wire nuts tight with electrical tape to ensure they are secure.

Step 5

Install a blank plate onto the ceiling box.

Step 6

Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker.

Canless recessed lights have a compact, ultra thin design which allows them to be installed in areas where conventional recessed lights could not due to size restrictions. They also feature a remote driver box and UL listed for use in wet location applications.

Canless recessed lighting offer a quick and easy installation process. First, simply cut a hole in the ceiling to size so that the attached spring clips lock the fixture into place. Then proceed with making all the wiring connections withing the attached or remote driver box.

Choosing the right size recessed lights for a kitchen will depend on the size of the space and the height of the ceiling. If your kitchen has a low ceiling height and the overall size is relatively small, 4-inch recessed lights are the most appropriate. However, if you a larger kitchen with higher ceilings, 6-inch recessed lights would be the most suitable due to their high lumen output and the wide light distribution patters they provide.

For a recessed light to be IC rated, it needs to be able to used when it direct contact with insulation. Typically, they have double-wall construction or a protective covering that helps to keep insulation from coming in contact with the light source.

For a 6 inch recessed light, you will need a 6 3/8" hole saw to ensure the hole that will be cut in the ceiling is large enough for installation.

The recommended size bulb for a 6 inch recessed light would be one of the following BR30, BR40, PAR30 or PAR38. These bulb sizes will ensure that you will have enough light being produced by your recessed light but it will also fill the trim out, which makes the fixture look better as well.

For a 4 inch recessed light, you will need a 4 3/8" hole saw to ensure the hole that will be cut in the ceiling is large enough for installation.

Typically, reflector (BR series) or parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR series) bulbs are the most frequently used bulbs in recessed lighting due to the way they can distribute light output at wide beam angles.

When it comes to installing recessed lights in a bathroom, you will want a smaller size so they will not be obtrusive. Typically, a 4-inch recessed light is used in a bathroom because of their small stature and high lumen output.

Since a living room is one of the largest areas within a home, you will need to have more light output than other areas. Typically, 6 inch recessed lights are used in this area due to their ability to distribute light output over larger areas. This results in less recessed lights being required and not having an overbearing amount of fixtures spread across the living room ceiling.

Some characteristics that you need to look for when choosing the best LED recessed lights for your application comes down to three important factors; efficiency, longevity and quality. When it comes to efficiency, the fixture needs deliver a high-lumen output while using the lowest wattage for operation as possible. For longevity, the LED recessed light needs to be able to last long-term. These fixtures should be designed to operate up to 50,000 hours or 5 years, whichever comes first. The quality of the fixture will come down to the manufacturer. If the fixture offers great efficiency and has a long life expectancy that is coupled with a quality design, that will help to ensure your getting the best LED recessed lights for your particular application.

Generally, recessed lighting fixtures are budget-friendly if you were only needing one fixture to illuminate an area. However, since most areas require more than one recessed lighting fixture the cost can quickly add up. The material and labor costs can result in some customers from deciding to utilize recessed lights for illumination. The up-side though is that even though recessed lighting is more expensive than other conventional fixtures, it is less obtrusive and is more aesthetically pleasing once it is installed.

Typically, LED recessed lights begin to flicker for one or two reasons. The first being the dimmer that is used to control them. You will need to make sure your dimmer is intended for use with LED fixtures. The second and most common reason flickering starts to develop in LED recessed lights is their internal driver is starting to fail, which requires the fixture to be replaced.