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What are can lights?

Can lighting, also called recessed lighting, is a type of lighting that is installed in the ceiling. Instead of being fixed to the wall, the wiring and bulb are tucked into the ceiling. A cylindrical hole with metal or plastic lining is cut into the ceiling where the light bulb is placed into. Light can come into the room, but the whole fixture is flat against the ceiling with a trim. This is where the name “can lights” comes from: it looks like the light is placed in a can and inserted into the ceiling. Like normal lights, can lights come in various color temperatures to fit your vibe.

The housing is what holds the light and all the wires and connections and goes up into the ceiling. The trim is the part you can see. Usually, it’s just a simple metal or plastic casing with the top of the lightbulb showing.

Recessed light is especially popular in kitchens, as it provides bright and even lighting around the whole room. Since can lights don’t take up any space in the room, it is better to have a lot spread out. With other lights that come down into the room, you can’t have several hanging down everywhere, but with canned lights, you can put them every few feet in the ceiling to provide ample lighting without getting in the way. LED can lights make your lighting even more efficient.

They also have a wide range in color temperature, so you can choose how cool or warm you want your lighting to be. LED lighting is much more energy efficient than using normal bulbs. You save money on your electric bill and don’t have to replace the bulbs often. 

Can lights are great for rooms with a minimalistic style. They don’t take up space, and they aren’t very decorative. You can have a simple trim that isn’t flashy and big or match the trim with the theme of the room so you don’t have to worry about how they’ll look with any decorations you may have.

Recessed Light vs. Flush Light

Flush lights are light fixtures close to the ceiling, often right up against it, so you don’t have to dust the top. They are usually made up of a glass or plastic diffuser that encases the light bulbs and a metal or plastic rim to attach to the ceiling.

LED recessed lighting obviously has the benefit of not taking up any space. However, while flush lights don’t take up much space, certainly not as much as hanging lights, they still come down from the ceiling. Because of this, you don’t typically want more than a few flush lights in a room; it will make the ceiling look too cluttered. On the other hand, canned lights can be evenly distributed over the ceiling without looking weird. 

While some more modern flushed lights have thinner diffusers that allow more light through and can also have multiple bulbs in one fixture to make it brighter, they generally provide a softer light. So, depending on the room’s lighting needs, flush lights are great if you want a light that doesn’t take up much space but wants a softer light. On the other hand, if you want a stronger light to really brighten up a room, go with a recessed lighting fixture.

What is soffit lighting?

Soffit lighting is when a wall is lighted in a downward direction from the ceiling. Soffit lights are installed where the wall meets the ceiling to light down the wall. You can use Soffit lighting for both indoor and outdoor lighting.

Many people are trading in wall sconces and flush lights for hidden LED recessed lighting to open up hallways and rooms more. Soffit lights are great for spaces with an open wall space so the light can fall uninterrupted. However, a picture or window under the light can cast strange shadows, so make sure you plan out where you want them.

This downlighting technique is a great way to light up a wall, especially for exterior lighting. When you want ambient lighting for your yard as well as lighting your house for security, recessed lights in your soffits can help light it up in an aesthetic way. 

As with any light, LED soffit lights save more energy and are more cost-efficient. An LED bulb doesn’t get as hot as incandescent lights, which significantly lowers the fire risk. They also have a much longer lifespan, meaning less maintenance and replacement bulbs. In addition, LEDs come in warm and cool color temperatures so that you can match the tones of your house.

Why Should I Install Recessed Lighting?

Can lights may not be for everyone and may not work for every room; on the other hand, they could be that perfect lighting you’re missing. Therefore, you should weigh the pros and cons of canned lights before you decide to get them.


They save space: the obvious benefit of canned lighting is that it is right into the ceiling. This is effective for lower ceilings to help them feel more open.

Provide strong, clear lighting: can lights, unlike other lights, don’t have a diffuser to filter the light, and they don’t have fixtures between the light and the room. This provides direct, clear lighting.

Ideal for kitchens, hallways, and bathrooms: this makes can lights perfect for places where you need efficient, clear lighting, like the kitchen, hallways, and the bathroom.


Can cause insulation issues: since can lights require you to cut holes in your ceiling, it can mess up the energy efficiency of your insulation if not installed well.

You need a lot of can lights to get even lighting: just a few can lights can cause shadows on the wall since the light mainly goes downwards. Due to this, when installing can lights, you need to install a lot, which can get expensive.

Not great for living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms: in rooms where you want more ambient, soft lighting, like the living room, dining room, or bedroom, can lights may be too intense.

Can lights are a good option if you want strong, clear lighting for a room.

What do I need to know before installing can lights?

Here are some tips on what to know about installing can lights: they are more versatile than you think. While the housing and the light are usually pretty generic, they are mostly hidden in the ceiling. The trim can come in all colors, sizes, and shapes. Another thing to remember is that can lights are for downlighting. So you want to put them in places where the light heading downwards rather than upwards is effective. 

It is harder to install can lights into an existing ceiling, so if you do, get the right kind of remodel fixtures and someone who knows what they’re doing to install them.

What should you know when buying canned/recessed lights? First, ensure you get IC and AT-rated lights when installing can lights. IC-rated means that the housing can be safely covered with insulation, and AT-rated means that the housing is airtight. Also, look into the kind of trim you’ll want. Different trims serve different purposes. Look into which kind of trim would be most helpful for you.

Can I Install Can Lights Myself?

Installing LED recessed lighting can be difficult, especially if it’s being built into a pre-existing ceiling. If you have some electrical experience, you could try it yourself, but it requires a bit more expertise than other lights.

Especially when dealing with insulation, installing can lights needs to be done carefully and correctly to avoid damaging the ceiling and insulation. It is, however, easier to replace the trim if you already have can lights but don’t like the trim.

How can JellyFish Lighting help me?

JellyFish Lighting creates strips of LED lights for year-round outdoor decoration. Our color-changing LED lights are capable of over 16 million colors and can be programmed with a remote control and even set to a timer. Instead of putting up and taking down different strands of lights for each holiday, you can simply change the colors of your JellyFish display!

And when it’s not the holidays, you can still use your lights for accenting and security reasons. JellyFish can install downlights (like soffit lighting) on your roof to keep the lights pointed downward while still lighting your house and yard effectively.