Retrofitting Recessed Cans with LEDs
Resident expert Randall Whitehead, IALD, give advice on retrofitting recessed lights with LEDs.
Our house has 102 recessed cans with incandescent PAR floodlights. I understand that LED lighting gives a brighter light and uses much less electricity. What size LED should I purchase to retrofit a recessed can? Do LED lights need a lens cover? Is there any problem with overheating?
Wow, 102 recessed fixtures. Does the neighborhood brown out when you turn them all on? First off, I need to know what size opening your recessed fixtures are. My guess is that they have a 6-inch aperture. There are companies that make screw-in LED reflector lamps such as the Axiom Power Corp., which has a 12W replacement for a 50W to 65W incandescent PAR lamp that’s rated for 50,000 hours, has a 2700K color temperature and is dimmable. It still has a glass lens, but the length is shorter, so it sits a little more deeply into the housing. You also can look at the re-trim kits where the LED source and the trim are one unit. The integral trim is designed to act as the heat sink to help maintain the lamp life. Two companies that make 6-inch screw-in versions are Progress Lighting (502 lumen output at 2700K and 584 lumen output at 3500K) and Cree Lighting (pictured, with 650 lumen output in 2700K or 3500K). Both are rated for 50,000 hours. There are other options, but these are the ones I have personally tested and use in my own home.
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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