Types of Recessed Lighting Fixtures

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This tutorial provides a guidelines to know what is recessed lighting? and help you to understand the types of recessed lighting when you're choosing recessed lighting fixture and how to pick the suitable parts. In fact, recessed lighting requires you to buy a variety of parts and gather them to get the recessed light fixture, The main components are housing, trim and the bulb. It's helpful if you understand the concept of light layering which are general, task and accent, and also know how to mix them to effectively enhance the lighting design. You should also understand the nature of the place where you need to install the lights, to determine the features that should be provided in the recessed lighting fixture.

types of recessed lighting


The housing is the container that houses the electrical components and the bulb. They fitted inside the ceiling structure. All trims parts attached to the housing. When choosing recessed lighting you should first choose the housing. There are a variety of housing types that have different features you can choose from them.

Types of Recessed Lighting Housing

There are two main housing categories:

New Construction Housings: This housing is used when the ceiling is accessible, and you can install the housing to the ceiling joists by the mounting bars (arms that extend out from the can) or onto hanger bars. You may also have access to the space due to an overhead attic, drop ceiling or a pop out ceiling panel.

Remodel Housings: This housing is used when the ceiling has already existed and you have a limited or no access to the ceiling joist beams. So you cut a hole in the ceiling to install the fixture in it with the aide of the fixture clips.

After that you need to know if the recessed fixture will be installed in an insulated ceiling or not, according to that choose between the following :
IC Rated Housings: Insulation Contact rated housings are used if  there will be contact between the fixture and insulation.

Non IC Housings: Non Insulation Contact housings are used for when there is no contact with insulation.

There also housings that can be installed in moist environments like bathrooms, and other types they won't allow your heating and air-conditioning to escape up through the light fixture into the ceiling or attic.

Recessed housings are built to fit in ceilings that use standard joist sizes. You need to know how big of a can lighting housing can fit in your ceiling, however shallow housings are also made to accommodate shallower ceiling depths.


The trim is the visible parts of the recessed fixture and consists of trim itself, which sits on the surface of the ceiling, trim ring and the light reflector. You should choose the trims according to both the required function of the recessed fixture and style to match your decor, so you must be careful when choosing them. Trim absolutely affect the operation of choosing recessed lighting.

Types of Recessed Lighting Trim

Trims have different types that provide more options like:

Reflector Trims that have smooth reflector that surrounds the bulb to increase light diffusion. Suggested for kitchens and high ceiling.

Baffles Trims have ribbed reflector to diffuse the light and reduce glare. considered the most popular recessed lighting trim.

Wall wash trims have a directional reflector that focus the light toward the wall to wash the wall with light.

Eyeball and Adjustable Trims have the ability to position the bulb to different angles and give the user the ability to position the bulb to reach a desired area.

Lensed Trims they are designed for moisture and wet areas, since they have the ability  to protect the bulb and the internal parts of the recessed fixture. They are recommended for use in bathrooms.

You should know that not all trim sizes and styles work with all housings

Types of Recessed Lighting Bulbs

The bulb type plays an important role in the recessed lighting fixture efficiency. You have to choose the correct lamp that will meet your lighting needs. The housings and trim that you choose will often determine which type of lamp or bulb should be used. Bulb absolutely affect the operation of choosing recessed lighting. there are a variety of bulbs that you can choose from like :

Incandescent bulbs
  • Provide a warm glow.
  • Convert about 90% of their energy to heat.
  • Are the least expensive choice for recessed lighting.
R Bulbs
  • A built-in reflector that helps cast a warm.
  • Slightly more expensive than a standard lamp.
  • Convert large amount of their energy to heat.
  • R20 bulb suitable for 4" recessed fixtures.
  • R30 lamp suitable for 5" recessed fixtures.
  • R40 lamp suitable for 6" recessed fixtures.

Fluorescent bulbs
  • Are much more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs
  • provide white bright light.
Halogen PAR Bulbs
  • Have more controlled beam spread.
  • Convert large amount of their energy to heat.
  • PAR20 bulb suitable for 4" recessed fixtures.
  • PAR30 lamp suitable for 5" recessed fixtures.
  • PAR40 lamp suitable for 6" recessed fixtures.

Low Voltage Halogen
  • Produce lumens per watt more than the Incandescent bulb.
  • Offer a variety of beam spreads and have a longer life than incandescent types.

LED bulbs
  • Durability, energy efficiency and color quality.
  • Longer life up to 25 times than other types.
  • Are very compact and low profile and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • LED lights now replaces all the jobs that low voltage has been used for.

After you know what is recessed lighting? and the types of recessed lighting fixtures, and choosing recessed lighting became more clear you should know how to get a good recessed lighting design. The below link will guide you.

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