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A recessed light or downlight is a metal light fixture that is installed above the ceiling line. The light is fixed into a hollow opening in the ceiling, which gives an appearance of light shining out from a hole. The lighting aims in the downward direction similar to a broad floodlight or spotlight.

Recessed lighting
Fig.1.Recessed Lights on a Ceiling
Image Courtesy: Bob Vila

Features of Recessed Lights

Recessed lighting requires extensive ceiling wires. This lighting system comes with a light-to-light connection where all the lights are connected in series through a single cable.

The recessed lights have three main parts:

  1. Housing
  2. Trim
  3. Bulb
Fig.2.Parts of Recessed Lights
Image courtesy: www.ylighting.com

The visible portion of the recessed light forms the trim. Trim is viewed when looked up at the fixture. The trim has a thin lining around the edge.

The fixture unit itself forms the housing that is inserted into the ceiling during installation. The housing unit consists of a lamp holder.

The last part is the bulb, which is inserted into the recessed lighting fixtures. Based on the amount of light generation required, a variety of bulbs is available to choose from the market.

Why Recessed lights?

The use of recessed lights promotes minimalism in a room. The recessed lights illuminate the room without any clutter as usually happens in the case of ceiling lights. These lights are the best choice for low ceilings as they do not protrude from the ceiling.

Traditional hanging lights make a room appear constrained. A low-roof room can always use recessed lights over traditional lights. Recessed lights guarantee clutter-free lighting and good illumination.

When and Where to Use Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting can be used as :

  1. General or Ambient lighting
  2. Spotlight
  3. Wall Washing

Recessed lights are used as ambient lighting when it is necessary to brighten up a fully traffic room or space.

In spaces where there is a focal point, say a piece of art or fireplace, special focus can be directed towards them with the use of spotlighting which is achieved by the use of recessed lights.

Fig.3 Recessed Lights used as spotlight to highlight a show table in Dining
Image Courtesy: www.lampsplus.com

Recessed lights can be provided in walls as they bounce the light into space beautifully compared to direct lighting. This gives an appearance of wall washing.

Advantages of Recessed Lights

The main advantages of recessed lights are:

  1. Recessed lights shrink to the given space with no fixtures visible, which is a strong advantage when the interior is a great concern.
  2. They are the best choice for a room with low ceiling height like basements.
  3. Properly arranged recessed lights can have a complete room coverage compared to ceiling lights whose coverage decreases at the room perimeter.
  4. Recessed light units can be designed waterproof for wet locations.
  5. Recessed lights follow a perennial style that won’t go out of style.

Disadvantages of Recessed Lighting

  1. Recessed lights cover a circular area. It shines only the ground below and won’t extend far.
  2. As a recessed light covers a small area, too many lights must be installed to cover a room.
  3. Gaps between the wallboards and the light can cause air leakage.

About Neenu ArjunVerified

Neenu is a Civil and Structural Engineer and has experience in Design of Concrete and Steel Structures. She is an Author, Editor and Partner at theconstructor.org.