Recessed Lighting 101

recessed lighting

Recessed lights provide both ambient and task lighting. From bathrooms and kitchens to entry ways and living rooms, recessed lighting looks attractive in just about any area of your home, as long as it’s installed correctly. Also known as pot lighting and canned lighting, these lights are commonly mounted in the ceiling, but can also be mounted in the wall rather than surface mounted.

Available in a wide variety of housing and trim designs, recessed lighting provides functionality, without being aesthetically distracting. One of the best things about recessed lighting is that is that it creates the illusion of more space. Recessed lights give off a soft subtle glow, which blurs the boundaries of the room, making the space appear larger than it actually is.

Since recessed lights are embedded into the ceiling, there are no safety risks associated with dangling cords. Recessed lights that are embedded on the walls, often seen in staircases, provide ample light during the night when visibility is poor. Designed to work in much the same way as a nightlight, staircase lighting comes in handy, as it prevents stair-related accidents from occurring.

To Lay Out Recessed Lighting

  1. Map your ceiling joists and plan to install lights between them.
  2. Need extra light somewhere in your room? This is your starting point. Center the first light over your focal point and space the others around it. For even lighting, plan to have the first can installed in the center, and work from there.
  3. To determine how far apart your lights should be, divide the ceiling height by 2, and space your lights accordingly. For example: a 9 foot ceiling should have recessed lights installed every 4.5 feet apart from one another.
  4. Unless you’re installing lighting in the walls, attempt to avoid placing the ceiling mounted lights to close to the wall to avoid harsh shadows, which will only work to make the room appear smaller.

Choosing a Housing and Trim

  • Make sure it has the correct voltage.
  • Make sure it is IC-rated if in direct contact with insulation.
  • Make sure it is designed for a new construction space if installed before the ceiling or for a remodel if done after construction.
  • Make sure it has the structural features you need: low profile, airtight, sloped, etc.
  • Make sure the trim you choose is aesthetically pleasing. Recessed lighting trim comes in a wide variety of popular styles including adjustable, baffle, glass, pinhole, reflector, square, wall wash, and more.