Kristen Hicks on March 23, 2016 0 Comments Table of Contents Installing Recessed Lighting Types of Recessed Lighting Trim Factors to Consider While Shopping Most Popular Brands To Consider Recessed lighting is the category of lights that are installed in the ceiling in a recessed cavity so that the light is contained within the cavity itself rather than on the ceiling’s surface. Since there’s not an external fixture, they’re a subtle, clean-looking lighting choice for those who want a less ostentatious look for the lighting in a room. Recessed lighting is an affordable option that’s appropriate for a wide range of spaces. If you think there’s a space in your home that would benefit from recessed lighting, or if you want to replace the lights you’re using in a space that’s already been designed for it, here are the main things you need to know. Installing Recessed Lighting If you’re installing recessed lighting in a home that’s already been built, you have to make sure you get a type of recessed light that can reasonably be installed in the space already there. There are generally two types of projects where you would consider installing recessed lighting. Click Here to View All Recessed Lighting Fixtures New Construction If you’re either building a home for the first time or have full access to the spot you’re installing the light in due to there being something like an overhead attic space or pop-out ceiling panel, then you can buy new construction recessed lighting. Remodel Remodel style recessed lighting can be reasonably installed in a space that’s already built for recessed lighting. If your home has already been built and your access to the spot where you’re installing your light is blocked by plaster or sheet rock, then you need to be sure and buy a light in the remodel style. Types of Recessed Lighting Trim Many of the design differences in your recessed lighting fixtures come down to the type of trim you choose to go with. The most common trim options you’ll encounter in your search are: Baffle Trim — These are the most popular choice for recessed lighting. They include ridges around the trim that help absorb some of the light and reduce glare. Decorative Trim — Any trim that adds some extra design element to the recessed lighting can fall into this category. Eyeball Trim — Sometimes called directional or adjustable trim, these allow you to change the direction of the light as needed. Pinhole Trims — These are useful if you want lighting that’s dramatic, but don’t actually need much illumination. The trim covers up all of the light except for a small central sphere, as with a pinhole camera. Reflector Trim — When you want more light than a recessed light typically produces, a reflector trim will maximize the amount of illumination it puts off. Shower Trim — Also called a lensed trim, these have a lens over the light that protects it from moisture, making them perfect for bathrooms. Square Trim — Just like it sounds, the trim comes in a square shape. Wall Wash Trim — Have a lid over half of the light so the illumination is focused in a particular direction. These are popular for when you want the light to focus on something specific, like a painting. Most of these are available in different colors and styles, so you have some different visual options within each category. Factors to Consider When Buying Recessed Lighting To make sure you end up with recessed lighting that you not only like, but that’s also a good fit for the space you’ll be using it in, there are a few main factors you should keep in mind in your search. Style Naturally, the style you personally prefer should play a key role in which recessed lighting fixture you choose to go with. Since by its very design, recessed lights are less obviously visible than most types of lighting fixtures you may consider, aesthetic preferences might not be as big of a consideration in your choice as they would be if you were choosing a chandelier or pendant, but even so you want to love the fixtures in your home. Take time to browse your options in order to find something that looks right to you, and then picture it in the space you’ll be placing it before you buy. Figuring out which type of trim you like will be a big part of picking out the right style, but so will additional factors like the color of the finish, the shape of the recessed light, and any extra decorative elements a recessed lighting fixture has. Cost Good news! Recessed light fixtures are one of the most affordable home lighting options out there, at least in terms of the cost per light. Most recessed lights fall in the $10-$40 range, although you’ll occasionally see high-end recessed lights that get to over $100. Usually you’ll find you can get a discount if you’ll need enough of them to buy a case or set. The flip side of that is in most cases you won’t just want one recessed light in a room, you’ll want several. Make sure you’re not just looking at the individual price when considering which lighting option to choose, but instead consider the overall cost for all the light fixtures you’ll be buying for that particular space. If you plan on hiring a professional to install your recessed lights, then you’ll also need to take into account what installation time will add to the overall cost. And finally, it pays to think in the long term and consider how much you’ll be spending on the different lighting options in terms of energy usage. In some cases, a higher cost upfront could mean less spending over time. Room and Placement You probably noticed as you read the types section above that there’s a wide range in how much light different types of fixtures give off and how they illuminate a room. You’ll need to consider how much light you’ll really need in the space you’ll be using it in, along with how many recessed lights you’ll be buying and whether or not the room will have additional lights of another type. Many recessed lights can be used with a dimmer, so if they will be functioning as additional accent lighting in a space where you already have a different fixture or lamp doing the main job, you have options for keeping the recessed lighting from becoming too overwhelming, even if you prefer a trim type that leans toward the brighter side. If you’ll be installing a lot of different recessed lights in one room, you can hook them up to a couple different dimmers by zone so you can get the right lighting for the right section of the room as needed. You also need to consider if the room you’ll be putting the light in will encounter much moisture. This is especially relevant for bathrooms and shower spaces, but also applies to recessed lighting you’ll be putting on a patio or in another outdoor space. An outdoor light fixture has to be properly designed to be safe for use in damp spaces. Spacing While related to room and placement, for recessed lighting spacing is its whole own issue. To start, you’ll of course need to consider how many recessed lights will be in the room and how spread out you want them to be. If you’ll need task lighting in a couple of spots, then you may want a couple of clusters of recessed lights rather than a more even distribution throughout the room. You should also take into account how high the ceiling is. Typically, lights should be closer together for lower ceilings and further apart as ceilings get higher. You should plan to leave at least two feet between each light, and make sure each is at least two feet from the wall. IC Rating The IC rating is an important consideration for safety purposes. It tells you how far your recessed lighting choice needs to be from insulation. If you buy a light that’s IC rated, then it can be installed in a place where it will come into contact with insulation. If you buy one that’s not, then you need to be extra careful that where it’s installed isn’t too close to insulation. It’s a pretty simple classification, but one that’s important to look for if the spot you’re installing your lights in requires it. Ease of Installation If you’ll be doing the job of installing recessed lighting yourself, you don’t want to end up signing on for a more difficult task than you’ve anticipated. Even if you’re hiring someone, you don’t want to find yourself paying more for a difficult installation job that takes longer than it should. Recessed lighting can already be tricky to install since you do need to create the crater in your ceiling for it to go into. Make sure you know what you’re doing (or hire someone that does) and check the reviews from other customers to see if anyone reports having a hard time with installation. If you can find a recessed light fixture you love that customers also say is a piece of cake to install, then you’ve hit the jackpot. Type of Bulb Many recessed lights work with standard bulbs, which makes them easy to find and replace when you need to. Others come with bulbs in less common shapes and types that may be a bit harder on that count. If the recessed light uses something other than a standard bulb, check with your local hardware store to get a feel for how hard the type it uses is to find. The bulb you use will also influence how much energy the light requires. A CFL or LED bulb will save you money over time due to lower energy costs and an LED bulb brings the added benefit of a long life, so you won’t have to think about replacing it for many years. For certain uses, you’ll need certain bulbs. A recessed light in the bathroom needs a bulb that’s rated for dampness. One that will be used for task lighting needs one bright enough to get the job done. One that’s meant more to add some ambient lighting needs a light that’s not too bright or that works with a dimmer. And finally, if you buy a recessed light that only works with an expensive bulb, you may want to kick yourself when the time comes to replace it (especially if it’s a bulb of a type that needs to be replaced with any frequency), so take the cost of the light bulb required into consideration as well. Voltage The voltage is yet another factor that will influence how bright your lights will be and how much energy they use. People commonly purchase line-voltage light kits that provide the standard voltage, but you can also find low-voltage kits that cost more upfront, but provide energy savings that can pay off in the long run. If you go with a low-voltage option, you’ll probably need to purchase a special transformer in order for your lights to work with your home’s electrical system. Popular Brands To Consider A good lighting fixture will likely be with you for many years to come. To help you ensure you pick the best one that will serve you well for all that time, we’ve given a look to the customer reviews of recessed lights made by several of the top brands working in the space. Here’s what we found. EnviroLite EnviroLite makes a couple of types of LED recessed lighting fixtures. Their reviews are positive across the board, with customers commenting on how bright the lights are and saying they’re easy to install. The most frequent praise in the reviews went to their energy-saving qualities. LED lights use less energy than most alternatives, don’t add heat to your home, and can be used with a dimmer. Add all that up and many customers saw savings on their energy bills. Halo Halo sells recessed lighting that seems to get mixed reviews from customers. Some customers are happy with their lights, while others complain they’re cheaply made and hard to install. While there are enough positive reviews that they may be worth considering, there are enough negative that you may be better served going with another brand. Minka Lavery Minka Lavery offers decorative recessed lighting that gets predominantly positive reviews from customers. Reviewers describe their lights as well made, classy and beautiful. Some mentioned having some difficulty with installation, so if you decide to go with one of their lights, you may end up wanting to call in a professional. Other than that, customers are happy. Progress Lighting Progress lighting sells a range of recessed lighting that gets solid reviews from customers. Review after review mentions how easy their lights are to install and many mention that they have great illumination besides. The overall gist of Progress Lighting’s reviews is that their recessed lighting is simple, but gets the job done. Sylvania Sylvania provides a number of recessed lighting options that get great reviews from customers. Reviewers love their lights, saying they look great, are easy to install, and put out a lot of light. A couple even mentioned that Sylvania was the go-to brand for electricians or contractors people work with, which speaks well to their quality. WAC Lighting WAC Lighting is another brand that earns great reviews from customers. According to reviewers they have a great product that emits a lot of light, is high quality, and offers a good value for the cost. One reviewer mentioned working with the company several times over the years and always having a great experience. Based on the experience of reviewers, WAC Lighting is a reliable brand to go with for recessed lighting. Conclusion Recessed lights aren’t right for everybody. Some homeowners will appreciate lights that are a little fancier and more immediately noticeable. For those that like a simpler look, this type of lighting will accomplish the job you need them to do without distracting from other visual elements in a room. And often, they’re the best choice for supplementing other types of lighting you have when you just need a little extra task lighting or want to spotlight something particular in a space. Finding the best recessed lights can be a little tricky since their usage varies so much and you want to make sure you get the right light for the use you have in mind, but as long as you know a few basics of what to look for, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the best recessed light fixture for you.