Recessed Lighting Frequently Asked Questions

Recessed Lighting FAQ

Q: What is recessed lighting?

A: Recessed lighting refers to fixtures that are set into ceilings or walls. Commonly called cans because of their shape, they include the housing (the internal part in the ceiling that you don't see) and the trim, which is visible. With little or no profile, recessed lighting provides effective ambient and accent illumination for both residential and commercial use.

Q: Which type of housing should I use: Remodel or New Construction?

A: There are two types of housings, New Construction and Remodel. Determining which type to use will depend on your application. If you have access to your ceiling from above, you will want to use a New Construction housing. If you do not have access, you will want to use a Remodel housing.

Q: What is the difference between IC vs. Non-IC rated housings?

A: IC rated housings allow insulation (either laid in or blown in) to be installed on or around the housing. Non-IC housings require that insulation be kept at least 3" away from the housing at all times.

Q: How many lights am I going to need?

A: This question has no easy answer, as opinions on this subject vary greatly. However, a good rule of thumb is to take the height of the ceiling and divide it in half. This is the distance that each light should be from one another. For example, a room with an 8' ceiling, should have lights approximately 4' from one another (8' ceiling / 2 = 4' apart). The total number of lights will also be affected by the type and wattage of bulb being used. Spot lights with narrow beams will produce pockets or pools of light, while flood type bulbs will produce broader amounts of light.

Q: Can I use a dimmer?

A: Yes, a dimmer can be used on most recessed lighting. Line Voltage recessed lighting can be dimmed with a standard incandescent dimmer. While Low Voltage recessed lighting will be dimmed with either a Low Voltage Electronic or Magnetic dimmer. The type of transformer (Electronic or Magnetic) used in the housing will determine which type of dimmer you need.

Q: What is meant by Air-Tight down light and why would I want to use one?

A: Any air-tight rated down light has demonstrated in an independent testing laboratory environment that it will prevent air flow through the fixture. This is important because it saves money in heating and cooling costs. Just as important, some state regulations are now requiring that new home construction use this type of down light.

Q: Can I use a CFL or LED bulb in a Line Voltage Housing and Trim?

A: Yes, CFL and LED bulbs can be used in Line Voltage Housings and Trims. These types of bulbs are readily available in Par, R and A shaped bulbs. It's important to note, that the shape of the bulb should be as close to the bulb specified by the manufacture as possible. For example, if the housing and trim are recommending a Par/R shaped bulb, the CFL or LED bulb should be in a Par/R shape. Spiral CFL bulbs can be used as they have the same socket base as a Par/R bulb, however due to the length and width of some bulbs, the light pattern given off by the bulb and the overall look, may not be what was originally intended.

Q: Can recessed lights be installed in a bathroom?

A: Yes, recessed lighting trims and housings are suitable for damp locations (porch or bathroom) using any trim. Wet locations, above a shower or outdoors, require the use of specific wet location trims.

Q: Why Consider Die Cast Trims over Stamped Trims?

A: Aluminum die cast trims provide stronger construction, more precise shapes and superior heat dissipation properties than corresponding stamped metal options. Die cast trims are stronger due to their single piece construction versus a stamped trim that is made up of multiple pieces of metal that are fastened or welded together. The die cast process produces trims with tighter tolerances than stamping, thus resulting in greater precision of shapes with smoother edges. Stamped trims are similar in appearance to die-cast trims as they utilize the same powder coat finish. In summary, die cast trims look similar in appearance the corresponding stamped trim, but die cast trims are superior quality.