Recessed downlights afford an easy and unobtrusive way to get both ambient and accent lighting in your home. But keep in mind the following points to make sure they’re right in your particular case.
- Too Much Of A Good Thing
Recessed lights provide efficient and effective light. But be careful about relying exclusively on just this type of fixture alone. With no other types of lighting (‘layers’ of light) a room can look bland or stark with just recessed downlights alone.
- Optimize Downlight Locations In The Bathroom
Recessed downlights naturally focus their beam of light downward and that can cause unappealing facial shadows when they’re located above the bathroom sink and mirror. That’s particularly true if they’re the only lighting in the space. Bathroom lighting that emanates from the side of the mirror and complements the recessed downlights will balance the light and minimize those shadows. You’ll look much better in the morning.
- Don’t Locate Them Too Far From Walls
Getting some wall-wash effect from recessed cans tends to brighten the room by lighting the wall space. If the lights are located too far from the wall and the beam angle doesn’t meet the wall it can make a room appear darker and cave-like because of the darker walls.
Note Scalloped Wall-Wash Effect
- Shallow Recessed Lights Can Increase Glare
Shallow-depth fixtures bring the light source closer to the plane of the ceiling meaning that the lamp is more visible. This risks the potential for more glare since the lamp isn’t tucked further into the light fixture. Consult with someone knowledgeable about these kinds of fixtures to understand the effect that location and different lamp choices will have on this characteristic.
- Verify The Lighting Plan On Your Actual Ceiling
A blueprint or drawing that shows the proposed layout of recessed fixtures is important to visualize their proper location. However when it comes time to actually cut holes in the ceiling (particularly for a remodel) it helps to actually mark the fixture locations on your ceiling based on the drawing dimensions. “Seeing” where they’ll go in 3D helps identify whether adjustments are needed based on things that aren’t “seen” on a 2D drawing plan.
- Don’t Confuse Fixture Size And Brightness
Just because one fixture is bigger than another (for example, a 6-inch can vs. a 5-inch can) doesn’t mean it gives off more light. The amount of light is governed by the lamp (light source) and a given type of lamp will accommodate different fixture sizes.
- Lamps (Bulbs) Are Important Too
The lamp that’s used in these kinds of lights plays in integral role in the brightness, light quality, beam angle, distribution and efficiency of the fixture. Choosing the lighting fixture is only part of the process — choosing the correct lamp that will meet your lighting needs is the other half of the equation. Consult with a lighting designer if you need some help choosing the right lamp and fixture combination.
- Watch The Proximity Between Ceiling Fans & Light Fixtures
Ceiling fans that are hung too low or too close to the beam angle of can lights might cause a strobe effect as the rotating blades cause an on/off shadow. Checking with a lighting professional on the proper orientation between the two fixtures might help eliminate the risk of turning your family room into the neighborhood disco.
Styles, Innovations & Features To Consider
One look at a lighting catalog or online store and you might conclude that all recessed light fixtures are the same. There are a lot of similarities but if you pay attention, there are differences and features that make your choices a bit more interesting.
- Trims Available In Colors Other Than Black & White
You don’t have to settle for white or black trim kits either. Companies like Halo make trims in decorative metals like Tuscan bronze, nickel and copper. Both the reflectors and the trim rings can be purchased in these materials for an interesting and different look.
- Wide Variety Of Trim Styles Available
Trims have functional purposes but they’re also the decorative part of the light fixture too. Thankfully, there are many different styles and types of trims that are available to choose from. Browse through the catalogs of any number of manufacturers like Halo, Juno, Gull Lighting and Lightolier to familiarize yourself with what’s available.
- Flush Trims
Think about going with a flush trim instead of the more conventional trims that sit below the ceiling plane. RSA Lighting’s Quiet Ceiling® offers fixtures whereby the trim is finished flush with the ceiling during the sheetrock mudding process. There’s no trim to clutter the ceiling line – just the clean look of the round or square light fixture hole flush with the the plane of the ceiling.
- LED Lighting
At the cutting edge of lighting technology is the LED light and they’re available in recessed light fixtures. LEDs are the new wave of lighting, providing the most efficient and long-lasting light available. Costs are still higher than other forms of conventional lighting but their longer life and low energy consumption will ultimately pay back the initial investment.