Types of Recessed Lightning

Recessed lighting is the most popular form of lighting today. It comes in different trim and features which make it even more popular nowadays.

types of recessed lightig

Based on housing, bulb, and trim we can divide recessed lighting into various types.

This lighting is often called pot or can lighting. Recessed lighting is a type of lighting installed within walls, ceilings, or other surfaces. It comes with a hidden mechanism that displays only the outlining trim and bulb. The lightning installation provides even lightning distribution in both commercial and residential rooms. Besides rooms and spaces, recessed lighting is a great option in highlighting artwork, furniture, and walls.

This article offers a deeper understanding of recessed lightning, its types, and sizes. Also, we’ll x-ray the housing, trim, and bulb types of recessed lighting.

Types of Recessed Lighting

The generally common types of recessed lighting include the following:

  • Ceilings Recessed Lightning – This type is the most common type of recessed lighting. It’s usually installed inside ceilings in a downlighting method.
  • Walls Recessed Lightning – Wall recessed lightning is gradually gaining popularity in recent times. Such installation demands an angled flange that will help direct the light downwards to achieve the illumination of the required spaces.
  • In-Ground Recessed Lightning–This type of recessed lightning has common use for outdoor applications. This itype of recessed lighting also know as outdoor ground recessed lighting or recessed deck lighting.They provide brightness for pathways and can uplight landscaping.

Components of Recessed Lighting

There are three main components of recessed lighting, namely; housing, trim, and bulb.

  • Housing – This is the physical part of the lightning that is recessed or hidden inside the ceilings, walls, or ground. Also, it contains all the electrical parts and the light source.
  • Trim – This is the visible component of the recessed light. It contains decorative molding that covers or conceals the lightingfixture behind them.
  • Bulb – This is the part that illuminates the entire fixture and brightens the space or room. It comes in different types depending on the recessed light type available.

Recessed Lighting Housing

The housing component of recessed lighting is the first and major component for consideration. It’s comprised of the fixture part to be mounted inside the ceiling, wall,  or underground. Then comes the bulb, which you can install into the housing, and the trim that covers the housing.

Below are some of the different types of housing for your recessed lighting.

  • New Construction
new construction housing

This type of housing is suitable for newly constructed buildings. Also, you can use them in situations where there are additions to existing buildings. The installation process is made before the completion of the ceiling. This means that the housing is included during the building process of the house.

New construction housing finds more specialty in locations with visible ceiling joists and where there are no drywalls.

  • Retrofit

Retrofit housing type comes when there’s a remodeling option for a building. It comes with a modern, lively, and retro design which is similar to a pop-art piece. Besides that, this type of housing is very economical. The installation process requires the complete removal of the existing trim from the current housing. The tightening of the retrofit is through the use of clips.

The retrofit housing has the primary use in the conversion of traditional incandescent lights to LED. You need retrofit recessed light to connect with retrofit housing.

  • Remodel
remodel housing for recessed light

The remodel housing type of recessed lighting is the best choice when there’s already an existing ceiling. You can use this housing type for places where the ceiling joists are not visible. Also, they are great options for upgrading existing lighting systems to LED.

You can conveniently install the remodel housing with ease into most ceilings, even those built without lighting in mind. The installation process involves inserting the housing inside a hole in the ceiling and securing it with clips.

  • Insulation Contact
Insulation Contact housing

Generally, all lighting bulbs and fixtures generate lots of heat. The recessed lighting models are not an exception. Rather, the heat they release is of higher amount since the housings are hidden inside ceilings, walls, and underground. Thus, the recessed design of the housing brings it constantly in contact with insulation. Where the housing has no rating for insulation, the building has a high risk of catching fire.

Thus, there’s the need for housing types that are insulation contact-rated. These IC-rated housing types come with extra heat shielding capacity that will minimize heat transfer from them to the insulation. This will take care of any safety issues, even when the recessed lighting housing comes in direct contact with the insulation. The insulation contact-rated housing is available in remodel and new construction types of housing.

  • Non-Insulation Contact
Non-Insulation Contact recessed light housing

In contrast to the insulation contact-rated housing, the non-insulation contact types provide no heat protection to the recessed lighting. Their design doesn’t have what it takes to reduce heat transfer from the housing to the insulation. Thus, they are not the best-recessed lighting option in ceilings. Using the housing type demands that there’ll be a minimum of 3” space from the non-IC housing to the insulation.

  • Shallow Ceiling
sallow housing recessed light

These types of housing are specially designed for where the ceilings of the building are shallow. However, not every ceiling has much space that can accommodate other conventional recessed lighting housings.

So, for ceilings with 2” X 6” joists, the shallow housing recessed lighting is the best option. Also, where the ceilings have lesser space, you can conveniently get the extra low-profile housing types for their recessed lighting.

  • Airtight
air tight recessed light housing

The installation of all other recessed light housing requires creating holes in the ceiling for walls for the setting of the housing. Though the housings are secured tightly with clips, air will still escape from them. Most times, the holes can result in problems due to the escape of air.

However, airtight housing types bring a solution to such problems. When they are secured tightly, they prevent the escape of both hot and cold air from the holes. Thus, they minimize airflow between the unconditioned and conditioned areas above and below, respectively.

They will also increase your comfort level and improve energy efficiency in your home. So, you will get reduced costs in your bill through the use of airtight housing recessed lighting.

  • Sloped Ceiling

The installation of recessed lighting housing on flat ceilings and walls could be quite easy. However, it could be difficult to install housing where there are angles on the ceilings or walls.

sloped ceiling recessed light housing

Then comes the sloped ceiling housing types that offer easy installation of housing for angled ceilings. Their design specifically satisfies recessed lighting of the sloped ceiling with limited spaces.

Its always advisable to first verify your ceiling’s angles of sloping before purchasing sloped ceiling housing. Then, where you’re confused, you can get a professional to measure the angled before placing your orders.

Types of Recessed Lighting Trim

Once you’re settled with the housing for your recessed lighting, the next part is the trim. This is the component that remains visible to the eyes besides the bulb. Every other component of your lighting will be recessed inside the ceiling, wall, or underground.

The trim serves you some purposes in the recessed light installation:

  • It hides the fixture and housing beneath it,
  • Gives a decorative and beautiful appearance on its outward.
  • It provides direction and shape to the downward display of light.

Before choosing a trim, you should consider the function it will perform. There are special trims for general lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting. Ensure that you give attention to the motion’s range of the trim, especially for accent lighting.

Also, choosing your trim demands that you’ll consider the size, brand, color, and product design of your housing.

Here are some of the types of trim for recessed lighting.

  • Baffle Trim

This remains the most common trim type for recessed lighting. It’s popularly used in residential and office settings such as home movie theatres and kitchens. It serves as directional light with a design that reduces glaring from bulbs through its ribbed interior. Also, its interior helps trap and reshape light.

They are suitable for living rooms, entryways, and even foyers. The dark-colored baffle trims, like black and dark brown, are great choices in preventing further glare of your bulbs. 

  • Reflector Trim

Just as the name goes, reflector trim increases light reflection and creates optimal illumination. It does that through the use of its mirror and smooth interior.

Also, reflector trims have a visible interior. So, you can easily notice the interior due to its mirrored surface. Just like baffle trims, the reflector trims are inset.

  • Eyeball Trim

The exterior of the eyeball trims is similar to those of baffle and open types but has some adjustable features. Also known as adjustable trim, the eyeball trim allows you to conveniently adjust its interior fixture. This brings the customization of the lighting with a room. The adjusting process operates through the rotation of the fixture, which controls the direction of the light.  The rotational motion moves between 30o to 359o. Thus, you can focus the lighting on your desired area for more illumination.

With much of the trim being visible, eyeball trims most times appear to be unattractive. It’s always best to choose the ones that have the color with your room and décor style. They are used in accent lighting.

  • Open Trim

Open trim recessed lights are similar to the baffle trim types. However, the difference is that the former has no ribbed interior. Thus, open trims can’t reduce the glare of the bulb lights.

However, they can produce bright lights, are economical and low-profiled. Furthermore, the open trims give tight-fitting around the bulbs that rest flush with the ceiling. Also, open trims give a great performance of illumination for larger spaces and rooms. You can choose the white-colored one for enhanced brightness.

  • Gimbal Trim
gimble trim

The operation of the trim is just like the eyeball trim. But for gimbal trim, the bulb is flushed with the ceiling. So pivoting the fixture makes the housing obstruct some of the light. Also, they have the range of motion as the eyeball. However, the trim tends to cut off some portions of the beam at full range.

The gimbal trim is an ideal choice for accent lighting and angled ceilings. Pivoting helps to create directional light downwardly.

  • Pinhole Trim
pinhole trim

The pinhole trim comes with a thick trim that accounts for the production of a concentrated but narrow light beam. In other words, this trim has a concealed source that gives a tight-punched light.

The trim is ideal for accent and task highlighting.

  • Decorative Trim
decorative trim

Decorative trims are known for the beautiful gloom they add to spaces. They come in different shapes and styles that can match your décor and taste. They are usually designed with a combination of glass and metal.

  • Wall Wash Trim
wall wash trim

The wall wash trims are made with eyelids that remove angling shadows if the light is focused on a wall. The design inculcates a combination of the baffle and eyeball trims. The exterior has additional adjustable features for the light fixture.

The trim is a great choice for spotlighting and accent lighting.

surface adjustable trim
  • Surface adjustable Trim

Just like the name goes, you can adjust the lighting by rotating and tilting the trim. The maximum rotation and tilt for the light are at 358o and 70o, respectively. Surface adjustable trim is also referred to as scoop or elbow trim.

  • Lensed Trim
lense trim

This type of recessed lighting trim comes with either a glass or plastic lens covering and protects the bulb. Also, it can withstand moisture and humidity. Thus, you can set them in lighting wet areas such as your bathroom.

Types of Recessed Light Bulbs

Choosing bulbs for your recessed light demands that you consider the type and size of your fixture. There are the pin and the screw light bulbs available for different types of recessed lighting fixtures.

Some factors that can affect the light quality of a bulb include its wattage, color temperature, and lumens.

The following are some of the available bulb types for your recessed lighting.

  • LED Light Bulbs

The LED bulbs stand as the most energy-efficient recessed lighting option. They can conserve above 90% of energy which is much better compared to other types of bulbs. Also, they have longer longevity and durability. So considering all the factors like energy efficiency, durability, and longevity led bulbs are the most preferred choice for recessed lighting.

  • Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the first and notable bulbs that will come into people’s minds when you mention lighting and bulbs. This is because they are the first invention of electricity and lighting. The lighting process of this bulb is through the heating of the filament. Though they are less expensive than other types of bulbs, their heat-generating capacity is very high.

  • CFL Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb is a great choice for recessed lighting. They are energy efficient, just like the LED bulbs. The design uses the slight turn of fluorescent technology in creating a substitute for incandescent bulbs. They have a longer lifespan but are more costly than incandescent bulbs.

  • Halogen Light Bulbs

The halogen bulbs are reputable in their use for recessed lighting, just like the LED ones. Not only are they energy-efficient, but they can also produce very bright and white light. They come in different sizes, like floodlights and spotlights.

  • R-Type Light Bulbs

These R-type light bulbs are known for producing concentrated and focused lighting. They have gained popularity due to the presence of the reflector at the back of the bulb and account for optimal lighting. They are a great option for accent lighting.

Recessed Light Sizes

Recessed light fixtures come in different sizes that will suit various purposes and areas. The common sizes available range from 4” to 6” in diameter. Also, there are recessed lightings with diameters up to 7” or 9”.

Whatever the size may be, the choice will depend on the type of fixture you want and the locations for their installation.

The small-size recessed lights like 4″ are great choices for modern décor and small rooms. For those within  6” diameter, they will provide an ideal choice for the lighting of ambient for the larger room.

Where to use Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting has found a wide range of usage in several applications and areas.

They can be used in the following:

  • General Lighting– is for illuminating rooms and sections with frequent movements, such as kitchen, living room, office, ambient, and others.
  • Task Lighting–Task lighting major, provides enhanced light where you require accuracy. Such tasks include reading instructions from a medicine pack or carrying out a kitchen chore. Thus, you can use task lighting to illuminate your bedroom, kitchen, office, and others.
  • Accent Lighting– The use of this lighting is major for creating dramatic effects. You can use accent light both within and outside your home. It creates special visual interest when highlighting objects such as architectural designs, artworks, plants, fireplaces, and textured walls.

Aditional Features:

Smart Recessed lighting: In smart recessed lighting, you can control the recessed light through mobile apps or google assistance, or Alexa. This is a great innovation in terms of modern recessed lighting.

Dimmer switch: The dimmer switch helps to control and change the color temperature so that you can get you expected ambiance and color in the room.

Remote control recessed lighting: With remote control recessed lighting, you can control the recessed lighting from a long distance with a remote.

Color Changing: In color-changing recessed lighting, you can change the color to give the room a different atmosphere as ambient lighting.

Motion Sensor: Motion sensor recessed light automatically turns on and turn off when it can track any motion.

Where to buy recessed lighting:

You can buy recessed light both online and physically. If you want to buy online there are some great options for you.

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by Scott D. Averill
Scott is a very nice guy with an electric obsession. He is an electrical engineer and a workshop owner in Chicago downtown. He is also a father of 3 child. From childhood he has been an electronics friendly child and always loved to be busy with repairing something.

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