How to Buy Recessed Lighting

How to Buy Recessed Lighting - The Basics

What is a Recessed Light?

Recessed lighting or "downlights" offer a clean and modern look for just about any room. They install above the ceiling, so that when you look directly up, only the aperture and the trim of the light is visible. Learn the basics about this special type of lighting used in many home decorating projects to achieve a modern look. Combined with a dimmer, you can create the atmosphere you want in any room, from bright to intimate.

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Recessed Lighting Parts

Most recessed lights have three parts. You'll need all three to make a recessed downlight.

  1. Housing - installed between ceiling joists, the housing holds the electrical wiring and socket for the bulb.

  2. Ceiling Trim - the only visible part, the trim covers the edges of the hole made for the housing. Something to know: Not all trim will fit all housing; each housing has trim made especially for it.

  3. Bulb - different housings use different types of bulbs (also called lamps). Specialty bulbs can be used to create different lighting effects.


Make a Plan

Once you've decided on a housing and trim, you'll need to determine how many lights you will need for your room space. Some basic rules:

  1. Locate lights at least 2-feet from the wall.

  2. 6" recessed lights should be spaced 7-feet apart for a typical 8-foot ceiling.

  3. When lighting framed artwork or paintings, use one 4" low voltage light for each picture. A very large painting or piece of artwork may require more than one light.


Need Help?

Our American Lighting Association trained specialists can help you buy the right recessed lighting for your space. Call 1-800-782-1967 for personal assistance,
or contact us for more information.

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