Last modified: 2020-02-17 | Approximate reading time 8 mins
Recessed lighting is a great feature and acts as a way to enhance any space by introducing more light. In fact, one of the reasons it is such a popular way to illuminate parts of your home is thanks to the way it can make small spaces feel bigger.
Recessed lighting is a form of light fixture that sits inside a hollow opening within the ceiling. With the light contained inside this housing, it helps to frame and concentrate the light downwards.
The first step to your recessed light conversion is to determine the application you desire. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on two: general lighting and accent lighting. General lighting is defined by its ability to brighten up general living spaces making it the ideal type of lighting for main rooms and family rooms.
Accent lighting is very different in that it is used more for highlighting and putting the focus on certain areas such as artwork or along the kitchen counters. Remember that accent lighting is not a primary light source. General lighting will primarily illuminate your home, however, accent lighting is meant to be used in conjunction with general lighting to help create certain moods.
There are three parts that make up the recessed lighting fixture: the housing, the trim, and the bulb itself. The housing is essentially the fixture itself which is installed and concealed within the ceiling. The trim is the exposed portion of the light whose edges are often flush with the ceiling. Lastly, there is the bulb itself. Please consult our article on lightbulbs for more information on how to choose the right one!
The housing holds the trim and bulb, connecting them to your home’s grid. However, there are several different kinds of recessed housings that can complement almost any lighting project.
When choosing your trim, remember that they are there to help conceal the fixture, help direct light downward and to give your room that beautifully finished look. Settling on a specific trim isn’t an easy task when there quite a few different types of trims to choose from.
To accommodate any room design and decorative style, recessed lighting trims are available in several colours to match. It is important to remember when selecting your trim colour that it can have an effect on how the light shines. Since dark colour trims have a tendency to absorb light, the measure of photometric efficiency (PE) is used to designate how effective the trim is at spreading as much light as possible.
Line voltage is the standard form that is typically found in outlets at 120 volts which is the standard in Canada. While line voltage may offer fewer options, it is also cheaper in terms of purchase and installation costs but can cost more to operate over time since your energy use will be noticeable. However, this can be somewhat offset by the lower cost of the fixtures and bulbs. Low voltage on the other hand, operates on 12-volt charges which requires the installation of a transformer to lower the 120-volt standard to 12 volts.
It is important to note that the transformer is crucial if you don’t wish to burn out your low voltage light bulbs. A unique feature of a low voltage setup is that the more frequently it is used, the more cost-effective the system becomes, making it ideal for your home’s most frequently lit up spots. If your home has high ceilings or you wish to have general light in a space then line voltage will work best for you. However, if you’re looking for accent lighting that will be less frequently used, low voltage recessed lights will give you that precision while helping you save energy.
Deciding how many lights to install is a big part of the job as it depends on both the room size and the effect you wish the light to have. One of the most basic ways to get an idea of how many lights will be appropriate for the space is to take the height of the ceiling and then divide that number into two. This number will be the rough distance that should be between each recessed light. Therefore, an 8-foot-tall ceiling should have each light about 4 feet from one another.
As you can see there are a lot of choices and they can all impact how much the final job will end up costing you. First, let’s start by gauging the cost of the bulbs. Assuming your space will require 6 recessed lights to be properly illuminated and you choose compact fluorescent light bulbs at 10 apiece you’re looking at about $60 on bulbs. Basic recessed lighting should cost at least $30 for each housing and another $25 for each trim. So just acquiring the parts should cost about $400 on the low end and this estimation is without the cost of labour for installation factored in.
Now you have all the pertinent information to help you choose the right type of recessed lighting for your home. If you’ve decided to take the leap and move forward with the installation, here are some things to consider:
Recessed lighting can be just the thing to transform your home but it’s always important to consult a professional for their opinion on whether what you’ve chosen will genuinely work to enhance your space. Of course, for jobs of this nature, it’s absolutely fundamental to use the professionally licensed services of general contractor and electrician.
Author: David Ben-Zaken
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