Recessed Lighting Tips

Recessed lighting is the most common type of architectural lighting in residences today. Recessed downlighting blends comfortably with most interior designs. And because of the diverse effects possible with recessed lighting it can provide ambient, task, accent and wall illumination. Recessed lighting can utilize incandescent, low voltage, compact fluorescent or LED as sources.

Term: “IC” Rated Housings

Definition: “IC” is short for Insulation Contact. This means that any housing with the “IC” rating can make direct contact with ceiling insulation.

Term: NON “IC” Housings

Definition: This means that these housings can NOT make direct contact with insulation. These housings are still used because they usually allow for higher wattages.

Term: Remodel or Retrofit Housings

Definition: This means that any housing with the “Remodel” rating is made without a frame and has mounting clips. These clips are attached to the “can” of the housing. These clips are designed to attach to the drywall and or some other materials. Therefore you must have existing drywall or other suitable surface to attach these housing to, You can NOT use for open ceilings.

Term: 12v LOW VOLTAGE Housings

Definition: 12v Low Voltage means that that housing has a transformer built in to it (unless otherwise noted that transformer is not included). This transformer (usually 50 Watts maximum) steps down the voltage coming in to your home which is called High Voltage (110/120 Volt) and converts (steps it down) to 12 Volt Low Voltage. 12 Volt Low Voltage is an energy efficient lighting and allows you to utilize the MR16 bulb (unless otherwise noted that it uses another type bulb). This halogen MR16 bulb offers a variety of wattages and beam spread.

Term: 120v HIGH VOLTAGE Housings

Definition: 120v High Voltage means that that housing has NO transformer and does NOT require one. Therefore it uses the same voltage coming in to your home which is called High Voltage (110/120 Volt). These High Voltage housings are useful for the following reasons:
There is no transformer to worry about
They generally cost less because there is no transformer
Depending on trim selected, they can use a halogen or incandescent bulb
Great for ambient lighting

Term: 3″, 4″, 5″ & 6″ Recessed Lighting

Definition: Very Simple: Diameter Size (in inches) of the housing’s opening where the trim is to be inserted. Is there a difference in light output? There is no difference in light output if they take the same bulb and handle the same wattage. For example, if a 4″ housing takes a 50 Watt Par Bulb, and a 5″ or 6″ housing takes the same bulb, then you will get the same exact light output. The only difference is the 4″ will just be a smaller looking fixture than the 5″ or 6″.

Term: Baffle

Definition: Baffles trap and shape the light, ultimately minimizing glare and reducing brightness by narrowing the focus of the downlighting beam. They also provide control for R, BR, and PAR lamps

Term: Reflector

Definition: Reflectors maximize light output. These trims are ideal for general, accent, and task applications for both residential and commercial needs.

Term: Wall Washers

Definition: Wall Washers emphasize vertical surfaces and visually increase the perceived size of a room. Aim wall washers toward pictures, fireplaces, or wall hangings.

Term: Elbows and Adjustable

Definition: Elbows and adjustables provide adjustable and directional lighting suitable for accent, task, and wall washing.

Installing recessed lighting is a relatively simple job that can be done safely if you follow one cardinal rule: Turn off the power first. Always cut power to the circuit at the main electrical panel. To ensure that the power is off use a tester and then lock the panel box, or put a sign on it, reminding people not to touch it because someone is attending to wires. Additionally, make sure to check with local authorities to see if a permit is required.

Another important safety consideration during installation is to only install approved IC fixtures when insulation is present. When insulation touches an improperly rated light, fire can result. Also remember your circuits and some of these steps will probably be different, so read the manufacturers instructions.

Before you install your light fixture, you need to prepare a plan. The spacing and layout is extremely important. You want to position the housing where it’s needed for the job that it is intended to do, while avoiding the creation of shadows where light is needed. Consider the different jobs that this light source can accomplish and take into consideration the need for task, accent, and general lighting.

If recessed lighting is the only fixed source of light in a room, allow one fixture for every 25 square feet of floor space. And you should space your lights about 6-7 feet apart to get a good overall coverage in your room. Most housing’s require 7″ to 8″ above your ceiling. It is also important to determine where the joists are in your room so that you can place your lights accordingly. Keep in mind that if you place all your lights between the same two joists, you will have less trouble running wire than if you place them between different joists. To make an easy installation, minimize the number of joists that you have to run wire through.

Before you begin installation, make sure you’ve considered all of the electrical and safety considerations have the bought appropriate materials and tools, and have read the manufacturers instructions. Another good idea before you start the installation portion of the project is to cover or remove furniture and cover the floor with a drop cloth because you may make a dusty mess during the installation process; you may also want to cover interior doors to contain your dust and open outside windows. And remember, if there’s no electrical outlet handy, you may want to hire an electrician to run wire to the new fixture.