Surface-Mounted Fixtures Versus Recessed Cans
Glare is the biggest issue between these two options.
 
I am changing the old fluorescent tubes in my kitchen to new recessed LED lights. My original estimate included the installation of 6-inch cans, trim and lights, but now the electrician tells me that he no longer uses cans. He is now installing lights directly into junction boxes. I realize this reduces costs for him, but there isn't an "airtight" option with J-box installation like there is with cans. Is that an important consideration? Also, would the absence of a can affect my ability to change the fixtures in the future?

What your electrician is suggesting is a surface-mounted fixture that is about the size of a dessert plate. It uses an LED source, which is dimmable. My main concern about this type of fixture is that is does produce quite a bit of glare. A more traditional recessed fixture does a much better job of hiding the light source. Using an airtight recessed fixture does keep heating and air conditioning from being lost through the openings created by the installation of recessed fixtures. The shallow LED "dessert plates" are airtight since they do not pierce the ceiling. You could easily change out these fixtures to another surface-mounted fixture or a pendant-mounted fixture from the existing J-box.

My recommendation, though, is to go to a more traditional recessed airtight fixture that uses an LED source. You want to pick one where the lens that hides the LED diodes is regressed back into the fixture so that it is not flush with the ceiling plane. There are a lot of manufacturers out there. I would recommend that you find one that has a warm color temperature (2700K), has a good lumen output (the equivalent of a 75W reflector bulb or better) and is dimmable. Take a look at the Cree CR4 and CR6, which fit into most 4-inch and 6-inch housings. I also like the WarmDim by Juno, where the LED lighting appears to get warmer as it is dimmed.

randall_whitehead
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 www.randallwhitehead.com and follow his blog www.lightmakesright.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

Leave A Comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Lastest from ask randall

We are dealing with this situation on a regular basis now. Many people who were early adopters of LED products did not have the range of color... read full story
It is not possible to put recessed fixtures into a concrete ceiling, but there are a few creative ways you can approach it. One possible solution is... read full story
You do have some pretty high ceilings there. I think you should consider using a fixture with a higher lumen output, something in the 800 lumen range... read full story
I think having good lighting at a full-length mirror is very important. The optimum distance between the two sconces should be 3 feet. You do not... read full story

Webinars

Sponsored by Access Lighting, Civilight, GM Lighting, Langlais Group Inc. and Nora Lighting.   Live webinar has taken place, but you can watch the archived webinar by... read full story
Sponsored by Access Lighting, Antares, Kichler and Light + Building. Originally Live: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013Recorded webinar now available for viewing on demand.Webinar... read full story
Sponsored by Access Lighting, Kichler Lighting, Kimberly LED Lighting, Auroralight and Antares Lighting. The lighting marketplace is changing more rapidly today than at any... read full story