New Options for Recessed Lighting
Readers ask our expert, Randall Whitehead, IALD, for advice on getting a proper beam spread from LED recessed lights.
Since LEDs create directed light, how do LED recessed fixtures spread light out like an incandescent or fluorescent source?
To be totally honest, I’m not a big fan of using downlights to illuminate a room (whether LED, incandescent or fluorescent), but when I must use them, my goal is to disperse the light out as much as possible. LED versions are the most challenging because they use a narrow, uni-directional source. The first ones on the market were pretty glary. Now, there is usually a frosted or translucent diffusing lens in most recessed LED downlight fixtures. While companies like Cree and Progress make very good recessed LED fixtures, they have basically one trim style in various finishes. Juno goes one step further and offers a number of decorative trims for their LED recessed fixtures, my favorite being the Luminous Disc (#9324-SC), which helps force the downlight to act as more of an ambient light source with a decorative flair. Request a few of the trims to try out before committing to one style. It’s like dating before marriage. Here’s the big news flash: There is a new company called Recesso ( that specializes in creating trims which fit over any new or existing recessed fixture (incandescent, fluorescent and LED), turning them into a close-to-ceiling decorative fixture. That’s what I call instant gratification.
Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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I agree that for the part it

I agree that for the part it is best to avoid using downlights to illuminate a room. In general, I am a fan of fixtures that disperse light a little more naturally. However, you have some great tips on how to make that unidirectional light disperse light pretty well.

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