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What are recessed LED downlights?

LED recessed downlights, also sometimes called LED can lights, are a style of lighting where the light bulb and fixture is all up inside the ceiling. The light itself as well as all the electrical wiring is installed in a cylindrical cutout from the ceiling in a metal housing that looks like a can (hence, can lights).

The LED downlight is great for smaller spaces that need to be brightly lit up. Big light fixtures can weigh down the light and bring the ceiling down, especially in a room that’s already small. a recessed light will bring the ceiling up and won’t cast weird shadows.

Indoor recessed downlight styles are great for bathrooms, closets, hallways, and anywhere else you need even, clear lighting. For outdoor LED recessed lighting, a downlight can make a great spotlight as well as security lighting.

How are recessed LED downlights different from other traditional lighting styles?

Most traditional ceiling light bulbs are attached to a fixture that is connected to the ceiling or sometimes the wall. There are several styles of bulbs and fixtures you can get: flush lights, sconces, chandeliers, ceiling fan lights, and more. A traditional ceiling light can make for great decoration and really add to the room, especially for bigger rooms with high ceilings.

Recessed lights differ most obviously in the way they are installed. Instead of a fixture hanging down from the ceiling, recessed lights are placed up into the ceiling. This frees up ceiling space and gives the light a cleaner path to travel down to the room.

More traditional ceiling lights only need 1 or maybe 2 to light up a room, even a big one, since the fixtures can hold several bulbs or bigger bulbs, and come down farther into the room. Recessed downlights have to be pretty small and so each individual downlight won’t be very powerful by itself. This means if you go with recessed lighting, you’ll need more lights to adequately light up the room.

Because of this, can lights tend to give brighter, even lighting, while traditional lights give softer, more diffused light throughout the room. This makes a recessed downlight best for rooms that need good lighting, like the bathroom, the kitchen, closets, or hallways. Traditional lights are better for rooms that are better suited for soft lighting, like the dining room, living room, and bedrooms.

Recessed LED downlights pros and cons

So, what makes a downlight great, and what makes it not so great? Some pros to consider is that recessed lights save space. This makes them great for any low-ceilinged rooms that you want to make appear bigger than they are. Hanging light fixtures can make a small room seem even more cramped, and a recessed LED downlight can fix that for you. LED lights are also incredibly energy efficient and will save you money on your energy bill. They operate on less energy, last for longer, and work quicker than incandescents. LED lights can also be dimmable, so you can adjust the lighting levels.

However, there are some downsides to be aware of. Recessed lights aren’t as powerful as more traditional light fixtures. They can’t cover as much ground. So, you need lots of them in order to light a room. This poses 2 problems. First: the lights themselves and installation cost money. Second: installing recessed lights means installing several holes in your ceiling and insulation. These holes in your ceiling can decrease your energy efficiency, as heating and A/C can be lost through the holes.

Where should recessed LED lights be used?

Indoors, recessed LED downlights work best in rooms with low ceilings that require bright, even lighting. This makes LED recessed lighting perfect for kitchen lighting, bathroom lighting, closet lighting, and hallway lighting. They aren’t great for rooms where you want more soft and diffused lighting, like dining rooms, living rooms, or bedrooms. Even with dimmable LED lights, can lights are still strong since there is no diffuser over the bulb. The unfiltered light is still strong even on a dimmed-down setting.

Recessed lights make great accent lighting, both inside and outside. Many recessed lights can give clear lighting to a room, but one downlight by itself serves as a great spotlight. You can clearly light the side of your house and your yard for security lighting, or you can highlight any features of your yard you want to be lit up at night.

Are recessed LED lights easy to install? Can I install them myself?

Recessed LED lights have three main parts: the housing, the trim, and the bulb itself. The housing is the cylindrical metal case that holds the bulb and the wiring, and the trim is the edge of the housing that is visible to you.

Since recessed lights require you to cut a hole in your ceiling and install the wiring and bulb into the housing, then clean up the insulation and trim to look good and preserve as much energy as possible, it’s not a good idea to DIY a downlight. Unless you have electrical or construction experience, you should hire professionals to install your recessed lights.

Recessed lights are also much easier to put into a new construction project than a pre-existing one. It is easier to make them fit into the ceiling and insulation if they are built in with the rest of the new construction. The same goes for outdoor recessed lights, it is much easier to install downlights in with new construction rather than add them to a structure.

Are recessed LED downlights dimmable?

Not all LED lights are dimmable, but it is easy to get dimmable LED bulbs and a dimmer switch when you are installing your recessed LED downlights. LED bulbs come in all kinds of colors and you can even get programmable color-changing LED lights! You’ll have to check your specific bulb’s color rendering index, but a CRI of above 90 is considered good.

LED light bulbs should last about 30,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to incandescent bulbs which last about 1,000. You shouldn’t have to change your LED lights for years, making them very low maintenance.

How can JellyFish Lighting help me?

JellyFish Lighting is an outdoor lighting company that delivers one installation with thousands of colors. Our programmable LED lights make for great accent lighting, security lighting, or celebration lighting for any event!