Downlight Fixtures 


Before you decide to add a recessed light, also known as a can light, or decide which recessed or can light to install, there are a few things to consider: What do you want to light? Do you want a pool of light or a tight spot? What size fixture do you want? What kind of light bulb do you want to use? Do you need to use a remodel fixture, or can you install a new-construction housing? What about getting the necessary wiring to your new light? Will you need an IC (Insulation Compatible) or AT (Air Tight) fixture or one that is both?

Components of Recessed Downlight Fixtures

Can Housing

Some recessed fixtures are all one piece, but most are made as two pieces. In a two-piece fixture, the housing is the piece that is mounted to the ceiling.

Recessed Trim

Inserted into the housing. Depending on the type of housing and trim you choose, you may have to remove the trim to install the light bulb.


Every electric lighting fixture is rated for the maximum wattage of the incandescent light bulb or bulbs that you can safely use in it. Most recessed fixtures are rated for 75 or 100-watt bulbs, but some are rated for bulbs up to 150 watts.

Downlight Frame

Recessed fixtures that are made for installing into open framing have a mounting frame that is attached to the framing members in your ceiling—the joists—to secure them in place.

Recessed Lighting: What Do You Want to Light?

Recessed light fixtures are very versatile. They can be used to provide general lighting, task lighting or accent lighting. Recessed downlights are ideal applications for living rooms, kitchens, man caves, basements, bathrooms and just about any other room you can think of in your house.


If you want more light to read by, or on your kitchen counter, you probably want a downlight. The same is true for lighting a hallway or corridor, or for the general lighting in a large room such as your family room. To light up that sculpture on your mantel, you'll probably want an eyeball spot. On the other hand, to highlight a large painting or poster, or to subtly light your stereo components, a wall washer trim may be what you need.


What Size Downlight Fixture Do You Want?

The common sizes for residential recessed light fixtures are 4" through 7" in diameter. One way to answer this question is by considering how far the ceiling is from where you want the light, and how big an area you want to light. In an 8' ceiling, a 4" fixture can work well to provide kitchen countertop lighting. A 6" downlight at that height will illuminate your breakfast table nicely. In a 10' ceiling, you might want 4" fixtures for area lighting, since the light will spread out more. A 7" fixture makes a nice wall washer in an 8' ceiling.


Make the switch to LED in your can lights

There are a laundry list of reasons why LEDs are the way to go over incandescent lights, but we’ll start with the short list:

  1. They give off less heat. LEDs use a significantly less amount of energy. Keeping in mind that watts are actually the amount of energy the bulb uses, an LED bulb with similar brightness to a 60-watt incandescent emits only 8-12 watts. Less energy use doesn’t just mean a lighter load on your wallet and the environment; it also means less heat generated and lost, and therefore fewer side effects like those pesky ice dams.
  2. LEDs last longer. An LED bulb lasts an average of 50,000 hours compared to an incandescent bulb’s relatively sad 1,200 hour lifespan.
  3. No mercury. Maybe you’re not opposed to ditching the incandescent, but you’re wondering why CFL bulbs aren’t the forerunner in the race. Know this: CFL bulbs contain highly toxic mercury. In addition, LED lights are significantly more compatible with dimmers than their CFL counterparts.
  4. Improved color and variety. While many cherish the warm yellow of incandescents, that’s about the only color you can get from them. LEDs, on the other hand, have an impressive spectrum of lighting colors, and a great variety of options in terms of size. For the home, you’re most likely looking for “warm white” or “soft white,” but know that the option’s there to go a little crazy.


How to determine recessed light bulb size

The number following the letters in a recessed light bulb indicates size: it's the diameter of the light bulb in eighths of an inch. So, a BR30 is 30/8 inches, or three and 3/4 inches. An MR11 is 11/8 inches. So, you can swap out a PAR30 for an R30 or a BR30 - they are all the same size.

1.) PAR Light Bulb Size

The PAR denotes the light bulb has a parabolic aluminized reflector on its inside, directing light out. That PAR coating maximizes the light output that you'll get from the light bulb. If brightness is your #1 priority in a recessed light, choose a PAR lamp in the appropriate size. The majority of PAR lamps are available in a flood beam spread, but spot beam PAR lamps are also out there. Many PAR lamps are approved for use in wet locations.

2.) MR Light Bulb Size

MR indicates the light bulb has a multifaceted reflector on its inside. The facets help gather light from the filament to create a very concentrated light beam. MR lamps are primarily available in smaller sizes - they are all about beam control, which is typically desirable for a narrower light beam. You can choose your beam spread (i.e., narrow flood, flood, spotlight) for many MR lamps.

3.) BR Light Bulb Size

BR Light Bulbs. This is another reflector lamp to maximize brightness, but this time, the light bulb itself has a bulged shape to direct light out. One disadvantage of the BR lamp is that it's a little longer than the PAR and MR, which means it tends to sit lower in the recessed fixture - and perhaps, protrude from the bottom of the recessed light fixture.

4.) R Light Bulb Size

For "R" Light bulbs, as you might assume, it stands for reflector in this case. There is a mirrored coating on the back of the light bulb to improve light output.


Top-Rated Downlight Distributor & Supplier is a lighting distributor of Indoor & Outdoor Commercial and Residential light fixtures and bulbs. Based in the US, we carry the top LED lighting brands like EiKORAB Lighting, MaxLite, naturaLED, Westgate Lighting and more. We also carry a wide variety of Horticulture products by Hydrofarm, along with ceiling fans by RP Lighting+Fans. also provides rebate programs, expert lighting design advice, and lighting audits for large projects. As a wholesale ad bulk distributor of lighting products, we take pride in our customer-focused 100% satisfaction guarantee and return policy. 


For more information, call 888-325-4448 or email: [email protected] for more information.