Recessed Lighting – Tips for Choosing The Best LED Recessed Lighting

Kitchen Lighting Allentown PA

Recessed lighting is easily one of the most practical and functional additions you can make to your home or commercial building. Recessed lighting — often referred to as downlighting or can lighting — is designed to sit flush with your surface (usually a ceiling). These versatile lights work in practically any room. LED recessed lighting is the most common form of architectural lighting found today, and one of the fastest ways to update an existing space. 

Quality LED recessed lighting installation will not only give your Lehigh Valley home or business a clean, modern and attractive look, it can be used to highlight special building features, illuminate decorative objects and artwork, or set moods with the help of a dimmer. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, LED recessed fixtures are energy efficient and last considerably longer than traditional bulbs.

With constant improvements in LED lighting and new products on the market, we would like to show you some tips to choosing the best LED Recessed Lighting application for your residential or commercial needs.

1)  Where to Use Recessed Downlights

Recessed lighting can achieve a range of lighting effects in both indoor and outdoor applications. Recessed downlights are the best choice for rooms with limited ceiling space to work with, or where a large fixture would be obtrusive. In kitchens, recessed downlights can provide great task lighting and create useful ambient light when used in combination with other fixtures like pendants and under cabinets. The slim dimensions of recessed fixtures make them ideal for hallways and corridors when paired with existing sconces or step lights. In the dining room, recessed lighting can complement a standout chandelier or pendant and add a mood-enhancing feel. Gimbals let you manipulate the light beam to provide special accents to artwork or photos. In the bathroom, recessed lighting that is approved for wet and damp locations can install above showers and bathtubs. And for outside, outdoor rated downlight fixtures illuminate porches, patios, soffits, and other spaces like gazebos and kitchens. 

2) What size Fixture Do You Want?

The common sizes for residential recessed light fixtures are 3 inches through 7 inches 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-foot ceiling, a 4-inch fixture can work well to provide kitchen countertop lighting. A 6-inch downlight at that height will illuminate your breakfast table nicely. In a 10-foot ceiling, you might want 4-inch fixtures for area lighting, since the light will spread out more. A 7-inch fixture makes a nice wall washer in an 8-foot ceiling.

The most popular size is a 6-inch fixture. For that reason, there are more different styles of trim available for 6-inch fixtures than the other sizes, giving you greater flexibility in choosing the trim you want. 

3) What Kind Of Bulb Do Want To Use

A recessed fixture with a medium screw base lamp holder can take an incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, or LED light bulb. There are also fixtures available with special lamp holders, or sockets, that can only take certain light bulbs, usually fluorescent or halogen.

If you like the savings, long life, and temperature coolness of fluorescent lamps, but you also like the color warmth of the incandescent light, you can buy fluorescent lamps with a low Kelvin value. For high-intensity light, especially in a small area, halogen often works best. For warm, general lighting, most people prefer incandescent lamps. LED light bulbs can combine several of these characteristics.

If you want to be able to dim your recessed lights or control them with a remote or automated system, choose fixtures you can use incandescent, halogen, or LED light bulbs in. Fluorescent light bulbs are not dimmable unless they have a dimmable ballast.

4) Types of Recessed Lighting


There’s many things to consider when selecting the right LED fixture including size, trim, and color temperature. However, your first decision is generally whether to install new fixtures or swap out old ones and save money by retrofitting. Installing an LED retrofit kit into an existing housing is often as simple as removing the original bulb and trim, and screwing in an LED module adapter into the socket. Not only are LEDs 85% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, they produce way less heat. And because LEDs have a much longer lifespan than other bulbs — up to ten times longer — they’re virtually maintenance-free. Determining size is as easy as measuring the diameter of your existing cut-out, not including the trim (the visible portion of the fixture). Many of today’s models can be used for both new construction and retrofit applications, giving you an even greater selection of options. 

Trim Type

The trim is the outside portion that can be seen of the recessed lighting fixture. There are many trim types including adjustable, baffle, pinhole, slotted, decorative, shower, and open. The adjustable trim style is great for accent lighting or illuminating cabinet shelves. An open light trim is a perfect choice for lighting up a large space, such as a kitchen or living area, while the shower is the optimal selection for the bathroom shower area, as it’s made to be moisture resistant. 


Light Bulb Type and Temperature

In looking at these light fixtures, you will notice that some bulbs have a screw-in or pin base. There are different types such as incandescent, halogen, LED, or a standard bulb. The LED light bulbs are cool to the touch and also are considered the better choice for cost-effective energy savings. You also need to select the temperature or color of the lighting that you prefer in your home—bright, soft, or daylight. You can put in dimmer switches to lower the level of lighting, too; just keep that in mind when purchasing dimmable bulbs.


Remodel Fixtures vs. New-Construction Housings

Recessed lights are made with two different means of support. The housing for a remodel fixture is typically supported by pushing metal clips through the housing onto the top of the ceiling—the drywall or plaster. New-construction fixtures are supported by screwing or nailing the fixture’s frame to the ceiling joists. If you can’t get above the ceiling to run the wiring, you will probably have to use a remodel fixture. But if you have access to space above the ceiling where the fixture will be located, you can install new-construction recessed lights in your existing ceiling. The pluses of doing this include that new-construction fixtures are usually less expensive and have a larger selection of trims than remodel fixtures do.

5) Other Considerations & Options


Most can lighting is controlled by a standard wall panel with a light switch or dimmer switch.

However, wireless options are also available. Chief among your choices of these is a remote control or even a smartphone control.  Voice controlled control is another, though less popular, option.

Wafer Recessed Lights

A recent addition to the recessed lighting market is the new Wafer LED recessed light. It has no housing and is therefore extremely thin. It can be used in new construction projects or on remodels.

Dimming & Special Features

Paying close attention to color temperature and intensity can all have a bearing on your space, making it somewhere you’ll actually want to spend time. For that, we have many LED recessed lights that ‘Dim to Warm’, white tunable, and color changing, and manufacturers are always adding more and more products that are functional with today’s smart technology.

If you would like to speak with a professional, licensed electrician to give you an honest opinion about your recessed lighting needs, please reach out to GB Electric in Allentown PA.  Homeowners and businesses have trusted us since 2002 to handle their residential and commercial electrical needs.  Give us a call at 610-508-9525.  We serve clients in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Valley wide.


Pro Lighting, The Spruce

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