Recessed Lighting [INFOGRAPHIC]

Recessed Lighting [INFOGRAPHIC]

When you want style and function, recessed lighting is a great choice. There are a few things you need to know when buying this type of fixture for the first time.

The Basics

What is recessed lighting?

This type of lighting is placed directly in the ceiling with all the wiring and housing concealed with the visible part being typically circular (called can lights) in shape. It can be used strictly as ambient lighting or as task lighting, depending on the fixture and placement. This type of lighting can also be any type of fixture placed inside the ceiling, such as fluorescent or LED tube lighting found in most commercial and retail locations. Large, rectangular shaped recessed fixtures are used for general lighting. A recessed light has three parts to it called the housing, trim, and the lamp.


The housing is essentially the anchor keeping the light secure. It contains all the wiring and internal workings of the fixture. This is the part placed on the interior of the ceiling and stays out of sight. Here are a few tips when purchasing the housing.

Check the voltage. When installing any type of lighting, you should verify that you have the right voltage for your needs. Recessed lighting comes in multiple voltages to make sure you get the right voltage, whether that is low voltage or line voltage.

Check for IC ratings if applicable. If you are placing fixtures in a ceiling with insulation, it is crucial to choose a housing that is rated to place in that environment. It can become a potential safety hazard to ignore the IC rating of any recessed fixture because the heat produced by the fixture may cause the insulation to start a fire. Always check your rating!

Structural features. The housing needs to be sturdy in order to support the fixture. You should choose high-quality materials that are sturdy yet lightweight such as aluminum housings.


Trim is the part that is visible once the light is properly installed. It helps to hide any space or visible housing parts. When installing rectangular recessed lighting, the trim will not be an issue since it is standard issue in design. However, for can lights, the trim is a crucial part of the design process. Here are a few things you need to know.

There are several types of trim available for can lights. From options called pinhole which make the lamp source smaller and more focused to reflector styles which help to maximize the illumination spread, the options for trim run a gamut of possible needs. Whether you want a standard baffle trim for a great value, an adjustable option for more control over light fall, or a decorative glass trim, there is an option for you on today’s market.

Make sure the style works. While trim is functional, it is also equally about style. Make sure you choose a trim that works for the overall decor and theme of the space to avoid it looking like an eyesore.

While you can purchase the housing and the trim sperate, there are also retrofit can lights on the market for those looking for even more ease of installation.


There are four choices when choosing lamps for recessed lighting.

Incandescent is a low voltage lamp that gives a warm glow for ambiance lighting. They are least efficient in terms of wattage consumed to lumen output, but they are an attractive choice many people prefer for the appearance.

Halogen lamps offer a bright light source that is better than incandescent in terms of efficiency. However, they can get hot to the touch which may be a factor to consider.

Fluorescent is a staple for many reasons. They are affordable, provide pleasing light at varying specifications, and they last a long time. It can flicker when the lamp performance is reduced, and dimmable capabilities are still lagging behind LED.

LED is quickly becoming the go-to or lighting of all types. It offers the best return on energy consumed to lumen output, provides flicker-free lighting, and has superior dimmable capabilities. It is costlier than other lamps, but it will also last the longest.

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