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Recessed Lighting Fixtures

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Visualize little stars glittering from the ceiling as they brighten up your lives and add to the warmth and coziness of your homes or offices. Well, recessed light fixtures also popular as down lights, spot lights or can lights are a type of light fixtures attached to the hollow openings in a ceiling. As rightly termed these light fixtures are recessed into the ceiling.


These fixtures direct and focus the light in a downward direction. An unobtrusive light fixture, recessed light fixtures appear as if the holes in the ceiling are shining with light. The light flows in a downward direction similar to a spot light or a broad floodlight. These types of lighting have been in use since the early 1940s.


Recessed lights blend well with any décor. Colorful, bold and dramatic trim components can also be used to create an additional effect. Bold and dramatic lighting can change the mood and ambience of any space. Recessed lights are very efficient as they provide a complete lighting solution for any given space.


Recessed light fixtures are also known as recessed lighting trims, down lights, recessed down lights, recessed can lights, recessed ceiling lights, high hats, recessed cans, etc.


Parts of the recessed light fixture

Trim: The portion of the fixture that is visible at the ceiling opening.


Housing: The housing rests above the ceiling, it is the fixture that is installed inside/within the ceiling. The lamp holder is a part of the housing.


Light bulb: The light source, it is difficult to see the bulb when the lights are on. Can be seen when a person looks straight up into the fixture.


Types of light bulbs

Directional: These lamps have reflectors that reflectors control and direct the light. E. g. R, BR, MR, PAR


Diffuse: These lamps have a omni-directional system that controls the distribution of light


Trim styles

Trims have undergone a revolution since their inception. A variety of styles are available in the market:


  • Trims with standard baffle (separator) in black and white color combination, these trims absorb extra light thus creating a crisp appearance.

  • Multipliers are used to control omni-directional light from 'A' style bulbs

  • Luminous trims provide dim light and have an open down light component

  • Cone trims are used for areas where low-brightness is required.

  • Lens trims are designed to provide a dim/diffused light and to protect the lamps. These trims are used more often in wet locations.

  • Adjustable trims as the name indicates allows for the adjustment of light as required

  • Wall-washer trims are used to eliminate the scalloped light effect.


Housings

  • Housings are used to prevent flammable materials from coming in contact with the hot lighting fixture.

  • Based on the diameter of the circular opening where the lamp is installed, housings are available in various sizes.

  • The most commonly used sizes are 4, 5 and 6 inches in diameter. Smaller housings of 2 and 3 inches are also available; they are used for special purposes.

  • Air tight housings do not allow air to escape into the ceiling or attic, thus reducing cooling costs.


Types of housing

IC or insulation contact: These insulations are attached to the ceiling supports before the ceiling surface is installed. If the area above the ceiling is accessible, housings can be installed from within the attic space. IC housings must be installed only when the insulation will be in direct contact with the housing. Most IC housings are rated to a maximum of 75-watt.


Non- IC contact: Non-IC housings are used just like the IC contacts but they do not require contact with the insulation. These housings require at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) spacing from insulation. These housings are rated up to a maximum of 150 watts.


IC rated remodel housings: are used in existing ceilings where insulation is already present and is in contact with the fixture.


Non-IC rated remodel housings: are used in existing ceilings where no insulation is present. These housings should not have contact with insulation and should be spaced at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) from the insulation.


Sloped-ceiling housings that are vaulted can be used with both insulated and non-insulated ceilings.


Why use recessed light fixtures

  • A clean and sleek look, improves the aesthetics of the room
  • Increases the amount of light in the room
  • Opens up spaces and makes the room appear bigger
  • Can be used to highlight pictures, paintings, portraits, etc.

Recessed light placement

  • Bottom of the kitchen cabinet, this light will enhance the look of the counter top with its focused light

  • For reading purpose, make sure the lights are placed rightly so as to provide sufficient lighting

  • For highlighting paintings, portraits, etc. place these lights at least 12-18 inches in front of the specified object

  • When recessed lights are placed around the perimeter of the room, they give the room a larger look

  • Too many lights should not be placed at the center of the room as it may give the room the look of an airport runway

  • Recessed lights have to be placed at the right place for the best of effects else the light will go waste.

  • When lights are placed too far from one another the room looks very dim and badly lit

  • When the lights are placed too close to each other, the soft glow from each light will be lost.

  • Lights have to be placed after measuring the size of the recessed light. E.g. a six inch light should be installed six feet apart, a four inch light should be placed four feet apart. This will ensure even distribution of light.

  • Different types of lights give out different frequencies and this does affect the recessed lighting placement as well. E.g. Fluorescent lights are bright and so should be installed in reading areas or study rooms. Low voltage lights have a soft look and so should be used to illuminate the border of rooms.


Low voltage recessed lighting


Recessed lights have gained popularity mainly because of their sleek look, design and shape. Low voltage recessed lights have become an instant hit as people all through the world are aiming at achieving low energy bills and energy conservation. Low voltage recessed lights are embedded either in the ceiling or on the wall. These lights are less invasive and are not very bright. Low voltage as the name suggests utilizes low voltage bulbs/lamps for the lighting purpose.


These lights can be installed on insulated and non-insulated ceilings. Airtight insulation contacts are the best choice as they conserve energy and thus are more efficient. Trims and housings for low voltage recessed lights are available in a variety of designs. Retrofits fit with transformers can be used to reduce the standard current to as low as 12 volts. These retrofits help in converting normal light into low voltage light. This enables the user to transform high power consuming lights into low power consuming lights.


  • Reduced energy bills, 12 volts low voltage bulb consumes lesser energy when compared to a normal 12 volts bulb.

  • These bulbs can be used in any part of the house. As they conserve a lot of energy they can be ideally used in bathroom vanity, bedroom cabinet, living room, etc.

  • A variety of designs, colors and shapes are available to suit the taste of the user, custom made designs are also available.

  • Low voltage lighting is definitely environment friendly when compared to normal lighting systems.


Square recessed lighting

Stylish and stunning to look at and yet very economical, square recessed lighting is no doubt a popular choice of many people. These lights have been tagged as best energy savers and with growing energy costs, these lights have become an instant hit.


  • When fixed to tiled ceilings, the damage incurred to the ceiling will be very minimal.

  • Lights are manufactured to suit the size of the tile so that cutting will be easy and minimal.

  • It is easy to cut a square shape when compared to other shapes

  • Installation of the lamp is quicker when compared to other shape lamps


Types of square recessed lighting

  • Halogen fixtures are used for display lighting, track lighting and reading purpose.

  • Incandescent light fixtures are best suited for low ceilings; they are combined with reflectors to give better lighting. These light fixtures are highly economical.

  • Xenon lights are great when used as under cabinet lighting as they do not provide too much of lighting.

  • Micro fluorescent lighting fixtures are the best energy conservation lighting and can be fixed on high ceilings. They are expensive when compared to other lighting types.


Square recessed lighting benefits

  • Non-intrusive type of lighting. When switched off, you never know the existence of the light.

  • These lights produce a focused effect and so can be used as focus lights.

  • They have retrofit units, thus conservation of energy is also possible.


Exterior recessed lighting

Exterior recessed lighting as the name indicates are lighting fixtures used to lighten up the exteriors of your home or office. These lights brighten the pathways and the yards and also make the building look attractive during the night. With these lights, indoor parties can be shifted outdoors as they create the perfect party ambiance. Exterior recessed lighting adds on to the elegance of any home. These lights are available in a variety of colors, styles and shapes. They are easy to install and easy to maintain too.


Exterior recessed lightings can be fixed in the decks, porticos, verandas, etc. they in fact can serve as security lights also.


Choosing exterior recessed lighting

  • Choose fixtures that suit outdoor applications as these fixtures have to withstand external environmental factors

  • Pick lights according to the requirement, size and shape has to suit the depth of space available for fixing lights.

  • Calculate the number of lights you will need, based on the brightness you require you may choose the number of lights.

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