Recessed Lighting has two main components - the housing and the trim. Picking up the right trim largely depends on your personal preference or taste. However, choosing the right housing involves more technical work and knowledge. You may consider taking help of your electrician or ask him a few questions to decide best for you, in term of selecting the best housing for recessed lighting.
The basic understanding of following key factors may help you buying the right kind of recessed light:
1. Housing Style: Whether You Need Remodel or New Construction
Firstly, you will need to identify whether you should use a Remodel or New Construction housing style.
These terms aren’t as easy as they sound, there is a bit of complication in their meanings. Here’s the clarification:
A. Remodel: These housings in comparison to New Construction housings are less bulky. They’re appropriate when the access to space over the new fixture is limited or zero. Remodel housing are common in homes or apartments without attics or crawl spaces.
B. New Construction: These housings are appropriate for accessible space around the place where you want to fix the light. This housing style is used when –
• You’re building a new space and you’ve full access to the floor, wall or ceiling without any hindrance (in the form of plaster, sheet rock, etc.) to access to beams, etc.
• You’ve access to space (where light is going to be placed) due to a pop out ceiling panel, an overhead attic, etc. You need this space because New Construction housings are usually bulkier. You have to install them onto hanger bars (from drop ceilings or T-Bar) or in between joist beams.
2. Components: Whether You Require IC Rated or Non-IC Rated
The next critical consideration to choosing the right housing for recessed lighting is to understand whether you require IC (insulation contact) rated or Non-IC (non insulation contact) rated components. What’s the difference? Here’s the answer:
A. IC Rated: In this rating, the fixture may come in direct contact with the thermal insulation.
B. Non-IC Rated: The fixture doesn’t come in direct contact with thermal insulation in Non-IC rated components. You should keep them at least three inches away from any insulation.
3. Voltage: Whether You Need Line Voltage or Low Voltage
Identifying whether you require line voltage or low voltage is the final technical decision to be made.
A. Line Voltage: It operates directly on the normal household power, i.e. 120 volt current. You don’t need a transformer or any special modern-dimmers. Line Voltage works best for high ceilings and/or when a room or space needs general illumination.
B. Low Voltage: It is more energy efficient than Line Voltage as it uses a 12 volt current. You need a special transformer to reduce the voltage and also, the modern-dimmers for a dimming feature. When you wish to create high contrast using the recessed light as a form of accent or task lighting, Low Voltage works best.
4. Trim: Which Size You Need
Being a visible component of the light, you need to decide for the right trim according to your need and the application’s purpose. For this, you have to pick the right size of the trim first. Trims come in many sizes ranging from 3 to 6 inches in diameter. You may choose any size based on your personal preference. The larger sized trims are capable of producing the broader amount of light whereas, the smaller trims are not so clearly visible, hence, they’re often considered to be more architecturally desirable.
• 4 inch trims are basically used for accent and task lighting with lower light level and short throw distances requirements.
• 5 inch trims are popularly used for task lighting and general lighting (for smaller scale settings).
• 6 inch trims are still preferred for wall wash illumination and general residential downlight, as they can accommodate a wider range of wattages, lamps, and efficient optics.
5. Trim Styles
Once, you’ve decided on the trim size, you need to understand which trim style you want, depending on its application and the effect you desire to create. Here are some trim styles:
A. Baffle Trim: These are the most preferred choice among all recessed lighting trims and work best for living spaces of your house such as living room, bedroom, dining room, etc. These trims can absorb excess light through their large uniform grooves and help in reducing glare. They typically come in two colors - black and white.
B. Adjustable Trim: You can use Adjustable Trims for a variety of applications such as general lighting, accent lighting, task lighting, and wall washing. They allow the bulb to hang in the housing so that you can position the bulb in the desired area. With Adjustable trims, you can install the housing off center.
C. Reflector Trim: They are the perfect choice for very high ceilings, kitchens, and commercial applications. They can maximize the light produced by the bulb using a highly polished smooth interior. These trims come in multiple colors.
D. Lensed Trim: They protect the bulbs and housing’s interior from any kind of moisture. These trims are generally preferred for use in showers, bathrooms, wet spaces, and in closets.
E. Decorative Trim: These trims are very popular nowadays. They can provide a pleasing look to the ceiling with an efficient powerful low-voltage halogen bulb.
F. Wall Washed Trim: They’re combination of a light scoop and a directional reflector. Most of the scoop wall washers use CFL lamp or A-lamp. They’re generally spaced 20-30 inches away from the wall and 20-30 inches apart.
As not every trim size and style work well with all housing, it’s important to understand what type of housing you require before choosing a certain trim.
We hope this small guide to buying best recessed lighting for all your residential and commercial lighting needs will help you in making a better decision.