Whether you're building a new home or renovating an old home, recessed lighting can be a key element in both the function, comfort and style of the space.
Here are some basic tips when considering having recessed lighting installed in your home:
- Recessed lighting offers a clean, streamlined look in a home. It can increase the amount of light in a room, highlight artwork or other special features, and open up spaces so they look and feel bigger.
- Recessed lighting can be layered with wall sconces, chandeliers and task lighting to give depth to the space you are finishing.
- Though recessed fixtures are most easily installed between ceiling joists, some recessed fixtures are designed specifically for retrofit applications and can slip into an existing ceiling space through holes made to accommodate wiring; however, the fixtures you choose must be rated for use near insulation (IC housing rated) whenever ceiling insulation is present. When a ceiling is uninsulated, a non-IC housing may be used.
- Avoid recessed lighting fixtures placed too close together or in rows down the center of the room. This type of installation can have the look of an airport runway.
- Match the size of your recessed lighting fixtures to how close together they can be installed.
- Center recessed lighting fixtures in front of the objects you wish to light - a painting, bookshelf, or drapery panels, for example - and about 12 to 18 inches in front of that object.
- Recessed lights used for reading or task lighting should be carefully placed overhead so your head and shoulders will not block needed light.
- When lighting a three-dimensional object such as a fireplace, sculpture, or flower arrangement with recessed lighting, it is more effective to light it from several different angles.
- Whether you choose fixtures with standard line voltage, low voltage halogen, or fluorescent fixtures, the basic sizes are 4-, 5-, or 6-inches in diameter. The 6-inch fixtures can be used in general applications, while the smaller 4-inch sizes work better in smaller spaces since they have a sleeker, contemporary look with minimal intrusion.
- Adjustable recessed light eyeball fixtures can be aimed at artwork as accent lighting.
- Cover the walls with light by selecting recessed wall washer fixtures.
- Choose recessed reflectors when you want the most light from a fixture, or install white or black baffle trims to focus and direct light or reduce glare.
When selecting or installing recessed lighting, several types of fixtures and bulbs are available for specific needs:
- Incandescent, also known as "A" bulbs, are inexpensive and good for general light or wall washing with the use of reflectors. However, they are not very attractive or energy efficient.
- "R" bulbs are most common and have a reflective surface included on the back of the bulb.
- Halogen bulbs offer a clean white light, and are available in both flood and spot types in sizes to fit 4-, 5-, or 6-inch fixtures.
- Low voltage halogen bulbs have a long life and put out more light than incandescent bulbs, but require the use of transformers and special low voltage housings.
- Led lighting is very efficient has a long life span (25 to 50 years) and also requires a special housing. Led light should come down in price as the technology advances and becomes more popular.
- Fluorescent bulbs are much more efficient than incandescant, however their dimming capabilities are limited.