Without a doubt, there are more recess lighting options these days than ever before. Ever since the advent of LED lighting, lighting has become so much more flexible. It seems like every year they get smaller and smaller!
Over the last few years our industry has moved away from the bulky 5” and 6” recess lights, in favor of smaller 4” and now 3” options. One newer recess light we are really loving is the Lithonia 3” wafer LED light. This is light is super versatile, as it’s only about 5/8” deep. Meaning it can be installed UNDER joists, which is pretty amazing. When placing these lights, they can go pretty much anywhere, which makes them great for spotting art-work etc. These lights can also be used in bathrooms in showers, outside in overhangs / over porches. And the best part? They are relatively inexpensive and simple to install!
Since they are only about 3” in diameter they pretty much disappear into the ceiling when not in use, unlike un-slightly 5 and 6 inch recess lights.
Above you can the Lithonia 3” Wafer Recess Light. Note how thin it is! It can placed under a joist and fit in most other small spaces. It also blends into the ceiling really well when it’s off.
Above is a dining room we installed these recess lights in. We went around the perimeter of the room with them. The center light is on a separate switch from the recess, both with dimmers which gives the owner a lot of flexibility when entertaining. The Recess lights look especially awesome at night washing down the walls!
Dome Recessed Wafer Lights
The Lithonia wafer recessed lights above are without question an awesome product. We do have some customers who do not like the flat look of them, these customers prefer their recessed lights to have a “recessed” look, makes sense right!?
Enter Litelines 4” LED recess light. You may be aware that when LED lights are dimmed they stay the SAME color, and if you were not aware of this, go try it in your own house and see. If the LED is a 3000k color (warm white, pretty standard) it will stay the same 3000k no matter how bright or dimmed it is. If we think back to older incandescent and halogen light bulbs, when they were dimmed the would become softer (more towards a yellow color). The more you dimmed, the softer they would get. I remember when LED’s first starting coming out, this was a common complaint from customers, saying “the LED stays the same color throughout the dimming range!” At the time there was no option for customers who wanted the LED efficiency with the color of the incandescent lights while dimmed.
Liteline is the first company (I know of, maybe there are others too!) that solved this issue with great success. When their light is dimmed it turns yellow just like an incandescent light bulb would! The other thing we really like about this light, is it’s still pretty slim, but has a “recessed” look to it. This recessed light is about 1.25” deep, so It still offers a good amount of versatility. Unfortunately in most cases it cannot be placed under joists like the Lithonia’s can. So when measuring out a room, care needs to be taken to identify where the joists are and avoid them!
Liteline Recess Light is pictured above. It’s hard to see the depth the light has in photos so I put my tape measure in it to demonstrate it. We just started using these lights in 2018 and customers are really liking them!
This photo is showing the Liteline Recess Light at full brightness (left) and the light dimmed (right). Notice how it goes from a white light to a more yellow/orange. This is very reminiscent of the days when we used incandescent light bulbs.
Tilt Trim LED Recess Lights
Yes we are still installing tons of standard LED recess lights as well. We are typically using Cree and Halo trims, we have had great luck with both brands over the years. Regular recess lights require a can (often called a housing) for the trim to slide into. Most of these cans are 4-7” deep, meaning obstacles in the ceiling can prevent these from being installed. Let’s say there is a pipe, ductwork, joist, etc in the ceiling where you want the light, the light may need to be shifted a bit to avoid the obstruction. This usually is not a huge deal, but everyone once in a while we may want to install the recess light dead center on something, and can’t.
Above is a pretty standard LED tilt trim. This kind goes into a standard 4” recess light housing. You can see as it tilts part of the trim comes out of the ceiling a bit. When pushed back flat, it looks like a standard flat recess light.
Regular LED Recess Lights
When it comes to spotting pictures or paintings, tilt trims are great. Also if you have a sloped ceiling, these are just the ticket! Tilt trims used to be big and bulky, hanging way out of the ceiling when tilted. Modern ones are pretty streamline, and only stick out the ceiling a bit when angled.
There are other options as well, where the tilt/angle happens inside the can and is not visible at all. It all depends on what your taste and budget is!
LED Recess Light Retrofit
So you already have some older recess lights with damaged or discolored trims? Not to worry! Halo and most other brands make LED trims of various sized which will fit pretty much any existing recess light housing. If you have older fluorescent recess lights, you will be AMAZED how much more light output you will get from LED trims, not to mention less power consumption.
Some LED lights require specific dimmers to work properly. It may be as simple as an LED dimmer, or an electronic low voltage. When retrofitting existing lights, it’s usually best to install a new LED dimmer so you get a full range of dimming.
Above is a Lutron Skylark LED dimmer. Notice the black lever on the left side with the plus and minus symbol above / below (this will be hidden once the wall plate is installed over it). This lever gives you the ability to set the low range of the dimmer. Meaning you can make compatible LED lights dim down to almost nothing. If you have the wrong dimmer installed on your LED lights, you may find the light only dims down to 10 or 15% and is still too bright. A proper LED dimmer is the fix!
Lots of Options!
Yes there are lots of options these days! Please don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Just give us a call and we would be happy to setup a free in-home estimate and lay out all the options with different costs to choose from!