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
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.
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.
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.
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