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Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

by jtk last modified Jun 19, 2007 03:12 PM
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Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

Posted by jtk at March 26. 2007
I am at a loss regarding the placement of recessed lights in my condo. It's a small, but open floor plan, and I am trying to minimize the number of lights that I will need. Is anyone aware of any on-line resources where I can post a simple floor plan for suggestions on where to install the lights? I've read about spacing the lights apart approx. 4', but I need a little more advice. My first quote recommended 4" housing w/ low-wattage lights. I have a lot of art on all of my walls, and highlighting this will be a consideration. Any suggestions are most appreciated!

Re: Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

Posted by Mike at March 27. 2007

I am very much a layperson but I will try to share what I have learned...  Low-voltage housings are more expensive that line-voltage both to buy, install and to get dimmers for.  You can get halogen bulbs in a line-voltage housings both with PAR20 and MR16 with a GU10, so there is no real need to do low voltage, for recessed lights at least.  MR16s with a GU10 are great for task lighting and art accenting.

Halo remodel 3" line-v housing for MR16 GU10 bulb

Trims that go with the halo housing


Standard incandescents are good for general room lighting...  With standard incandescents generally the larger the can the more light and therefore less cans needed, but IMO too big looks clunky.  I was also advised to get trims that have the bulb flush with the ceiling so you get a wide light spread.


Spacing varies depending on what you are trying to do (general, task, accent), ceiling height, and type of bulbs and its beam spread and power.


I wish I could point you in the right direction for a site to help you more...  There are some knowledgeable people on here, JB know his stuff.  Try attaching your plan here just in-case some one could help.

Re: Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

Posted by jtk at March 28. 2007

Thanks, Mike.  Other than cost, are there any aesthetic reasons to avoid low-watt lights?  I was quoted $100/light for materials and installation, which I think is reasonable.

Re: Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

Posted by Mike at March 28. 2007

not that I know of.  Low-v is great at what it does, personally I would want a mixture of cans, some for general lighting and low-v for accent lighting.  Just one thing to keep in mind with low-v,  they are very directional, as in spot lights, great for highlighting artwork and task lighting but not so great at general room lighting...


I would also make sure of one thing, this goes for all receded lights, make sure the can is airtight.  If not heat and sound can transmit though your ceiling with great ease. 

Re: Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

Posted by Chuck Bail at May 23. 2007

    I would recomend a mixture of several sources for your lighting.  it's best to layer lighting effects for best visual comfort, space usability and asthetics.  A space  tends to look "flat" with only recessed downlighting.  A person can spend alot of time doing great design and craftsmanship; just to fall down with little or no thought to the lighting.  I see $500,000.00 houses all the time with $2,000.00 invested in the lighting.  They have spent more money on one area rug that they wipe their feet on.  How often is a person in there house at night?

    There are some genaral rules of thumb as far as spacing of recessed downlights, but you should take into account what the space is used for, ceiling height, how bright you particulary like it, lamp source, other light sources, etc....  (6' oc for general lighting/4' oc for kitchens).

    Make sure the cans are IC-rated if they are going into an insulated ceiling.  "Air-tight" is usually for energy savings related to heat excape thru an insulated ceiling.

Re: Recessed Lighting Placement and Ideas

Posted by sydney roberts at June 19. 2007

I know you didn't ask about this, but I second the recommendation of using air-tight cans for all applications.  Everywhere, not just insulated ceilings.  Leaving holes in your house is just a bad idea, unless you don't care about money or comfort or indoor air quality or quiet or the environment.

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