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About Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting fixtures are popular in residential and commercial projects, and they are also known as can lights, high hat lights or pot lights. Recessed light fixtures are designed to be  installed and wired above the ceiling. You can only see the lower part of the fixture, which is called the trim, while their housing is hidden from sight. There are many types of trims available, and you can choose one that matches your interior design.

The light bulbs used by recessed ceiling lights can be LED, fluorescent, halogen or incandescent. However, fluorescent lamps consume around 4 times less energy than fluorescent and halogen bulbs, while LEDs consume 6 - 10 times less. There are also recessed LED wafers that have a compact and flat design, and they don’t need the typical can-shaped housings. For this reason, LED wafers are also easier to install and wire.

Since recessed pot lights are installed above the ceiling, maintenance and replacements can be difficult. However, LED can lights and wafers normally have a service life of over 50,000 hours, which means that replacements are rarely needed. For comparison, most fluorescent bulbs last less than 10,000 hours, while halogen and incandescent bulbs last less than 2,000 hours.



Types of Recessed Lights

Based on their physical construction, recessed light fixtures can be classified into two main types:

  • Traditional can lights, which can be incandescent, halogen, fluorescent or LED.

  • LED wafers, which have a flat design with integrated LEDs, and no housings or bulbs.

Both types of recessed lighting fixtures are available in multiple sizes, such as 4”, 5”, 6” and 8”. This number indicates diameter when referring to can lights or round LED wafers, and width in the case of square LED wafers.

When checking the specifications of recessed light fixtures, you will notice they can be IC rated or non-IC rated. IC stands for “Insulation Contact”, which means the light fixture can be in contact with insulation safely. On the other hand, a non-IC rated fixture in contact with insulation may start a fire.


Recessed Lighting Trim Options

The trim is the visible part of a recessed light fixture, and as you might expect, there are numerous designs to choose from. You can use trims with a color that matches indoor decoration, and there are also adjustable trims for sloped ceilings. The following are some of the recessed lighting trims available from Lumenco:

 Baffle trim

 Adjustable gimbal trim

 Adjustable eyeball trim

 Pinhole trim

 Dome trim

 Dropped glass trim

Adjustable trims are very useful in sloped ceilings, and in general when you need to point the light beam towards a specific direction. For example, you can use an eyeball trim to provide direct lighting for a decorative feature on the wall.


How To Install Recessed Lighting Fixtures

When installing recessed lighting fixtures, the procedure will depend on the specific products you are using: conventional can lights, LED wafers, or retrofit kits for existing fixtures.

  • Can lights, also called pot lights or high hats, have four main components: the housing, the trim, the electrical junction box and the light bulb. If you’re using low-voltage recessed lights, you will also need a special transformer to step down the supply voltage.

  • LED wafers are easier to install. They are integrated fixtures with special supports, and there is no need to install a housing and trim separately. LED wafers are simply wired to the power supply and inserted into the ceiling holes, where they latch in place.

  • Recessed lighting retrofit kits are designed for existing fixtures, and there is no need to install a new junction box and housing. In most cases, they use the existing light bulb socket, with no rewiring needed. The retrofit kit is inserted into the housing, and is attached with special supports similar to those used by LED wafers.

How to change recessed light bulbs?

The procedure to change a light bulb will depend on how the trim is designed. In some cases, the light bulb is exposed and it can be replaced without removing any other components. However, there are also recessed fixtures with enclosed bulbs, and it may be necessary to remove a lens or other parts of the trim. 

LED wafers and many retrofit kits have an integrated light source, and there are no removable bulbs. However, this is not an issue because the service life is normally above 50,000 hours.


Advantages of LED Recessed Lighting

Some of the first LED lamps suffered from low lighting quality, and many homeowners preferred halogen lights in spite of their higher consumption. However, modern LED recessed lights have an excellent color rendering index (CRI), and they can produce warm colors just like halogen bulbs. The advantages of LED recessed fixtures include:

  • They have a long service life, which is typically 50,000 hours or more. This saves many light bulb replacements over time.

  • They are safer than halogen lights, since they produce much less heat.

Recessed light fixtures are common in homes and commercial buildings, since there are multiple options to match the interior design. Fixtures with exposed housings cannot achieve this design flexibility, since they may clash with the decoration and other indoor elements.

The applications of LED recessed lights include area lighting, decorative lighting and task lighting. They are a popular choice for apartments, hotels, kitchens, bathrooms, stores, restaurants and building lobbies.