Recessed LED Lighting

Recessed LED Lighting

Polar Ray Admin

This will be a discussion which refers to advantages and applications of LED recessed lighting also known as LED can lighting. The LED products should certainly be the top consideration when it comes to modern lighting of any sort, simply due to the numerous advantages that LED technology brings to the aspects of artificial lighting. In regard to recessed lighting, LED technology is certainly at the forefront of modern recessed illumination in each and every aspect. Much of the recessed lighting line is enclosed – a fixture with a lens of some sort which covers the “bulb” to create a desirable trait such as diffusion or direction of light, or in some cases to alter the color or possibly the intensity of light. With the potential exception of open recessed fixtures, the heat buildup in the enclosed recessed fixtures can become an issue.  The heat generated by modern LED units is better controlled and generally negligible when compared to any form of incandescent light – most of the energy input in incandescent lighting results in heat, not light. In a side by side comparison and on a general level, the LED technology will outlast incandescent lighting by a factor of 20-25 times, and compact fluorescents (CFL’s) by a factor of 5 times. Those numbers might make one decide that CFL’s might be a good choice but, even with the higher initial LED cost, when all the negative aspects of CFL lighting are taken into consideration, e.g., higher energy usage, slow starts, flickering, buzzing, poor color rendering, light intensity (lumen) degradation, and shorter lifetime (thus greater maintenance costs), LED applications make the most sense in every aspect. The initial LED cost is easily deflected by lower energy use, longer life and much better illumination qualities than can be had by any previous lighting technology. Potential rebates due to energy saving LED installations can also help reduce the initial cost. In addition to other well-known LED advantages, an often unmentioned aspect is that LED light does not emit much UV light and, therefore, does not attract insects as much as conventional lighting does.  

Recessed lighting, commonly called “can lighting”, is available in numerous configurations and before making a decision on what type might be best, the particular application needs to be determined. The basic applications could include, general lighting, accent lighting, wall wash, task lighting, wet location lighting, and whether the application is an upgrade to existing or is new construction. General lighting could loosely be defined as the lighting of areas with a uniform amount of light to provide as much comfort and brightness as necessary to accomplish the tasks that would normally be expected to take place in that particular space. General lighting could be associated with any room in a living quarters and numerous commercial and retail spaces. Accent lighting applies to any particular art, object, or location that one might wish to illuminate, separate from any general area lighting. Wall wash might be used in an effort to draw attention to a particular architectural feature, such as a fireplace, a book case, or any wall which one might wish to accentuate with illumination. Task lighting might occur, for example, in an office environment, an assembly area, or any location which would benefit from a directional light source that would be necessary to comfortably accomplish a particular task. Wet location lighting would occur in places such as a shower, general bathroom lighting, or outdoor lighting in locations such as a porch, breezeway, or entryway.

Once the application decision is made, the desired lighting effect will be determined by the unit type, size, trim specifications, and the light’s color temperature. The common types include ones with a baffle which is a glare reduction element. The open style is just what the name implies; an open lighting unit without a lens or baffle of any sort. There are also units which utilize a reflector to maximize light output, and units which use a lens to diffuse the light and protect the “bulb” itself. Also available is what is referred to as an “eyeball”, and those are angle adjustable to direct the light as needed. The housing style also needs consideration as different types may be used for new construction and remodel projects. There are IC and non-IC rated housings which can (IC) or cannot (non-IC) be in contact with insulation. Airtight units are used in instances where the intent is to disallow or at least minimize the air transfer between a climate controlled space and uncontrolled spaces such as an attic or wall interior. The choice of trim rings is an aspect that will help determine the finished appearance, and the trim is often available in multiple finishes. The color temperature is a choice that was not much considered prior to LED (and CFL) lighting. Prior to those, the only choice was incandescent which is a warm white color. The warm white color is generally considered to be in the range of 2600-3200K, which might be chosen for an area such as a living room. The bright white range is 3200-4000K and would be commonly used in kitchens, bathrooms, offices and other work spaces. The daylight designation belongs to lights which are in the 4500-6500K range and may likely be used in a reading area or in crafts or industrial applications. As the designation suggests, these lights are close to approximating daylight (as observed outdoors in the daytime with an overcast sky).

If you have questions in regard to any of the aspects of choosing the correct unit and the correct number of units for your space, please feel free to contact Polar Ray at 303-494-5773 to speak with a lighting consultant.