Best Recessed Lighting For Bathroom By Type And Size

Recessed lighting is something that will never go out of style. It is a practical and space-saving type of lighting. One of the most used rooms in a home is the bathroom, so how do you decide which is the best recessed lighting for it? For your convenience, we've brought you the answer.

Also referred to as "can lighting," these lights will sit inside the ceiling and shine directly down. There are options for spotlighting or movable lights to direct a spotlight when needed. You'll also be able to choose from soft white, bright white, daylight, and cool white light temperatures. Below is a list of the highest-rated recessed lights and the most popular size choices.

Available Types

  • Canless
  • Downlights
  • Smart
  • Color-changing
  • IC-rated
  • Construction

Best Sizes

  • 4 inches
  • 5 inches
  • 6 inches
  • 7 inches
With so many options, it can be time-consuming to pick which is best for your bathroom. We've gathered information about each brand and what color temperatures work well in bathrooms. Keep reading to find out this information and other great tips!
Best Recessed Lighting For Bathroom By Type And Size, Photo of brand new flood light bulb being held by female hand with recessed ceiling light mount in background

Types of Recessed Lightings

You'll be able to choose from canless lights, recessed downlights, smart recessed, and color-changing lighting. As you begin looking at types, there are different types that work best for where you're installing. Construction-grade lights are perfect for when you still have exposed ceilings. Already finished ceilings will go best with remodeling lighting fixtures. 

Any type of insulation present at the install location will require IC-rated lighting to protect the insulation from overheating. There are also shallow-bodied kits for thinner walls and adjustable lights for taller ceilings. A contractor can point you in the right direction for which will work best. If you're a DIYer, take the time to inspect the space before making any holes. 


Canless recessed lighting is easy to install and doesn't require the typical can housing. These will be a direct mount using spring clips attached to the ceilings. It does require a drive junction box but most of the drives are repositionable for discretion.

Canless brands give options for different lighting temperatures and will work for new construction, remodel and retrofit. Since they are simple clip attachments, they are most often sold in 4-inch and 6-inch options.

Click here to view these Halo lights on Amazon.


Downlights are very similar to can lighting and often come with the addition of being adjustable. You'll be able to find downlights that rotate 360 degrees around with a 35-degree tilt ability. This type of light is LED-certified and will offer 50,000 hours of light usage. These are best fit for rooms with 8-9 foot walls and act as a good wall wash light. Downlights are dimmable and are sold in 5-inch or 6-inch sizes.

Click here to view this halo downlight on Amazon.


It's time to have control of the lighting at your fingertips. Smart lights can be compatible with your Alexa or specific apps for different brands. With these wireless connection lights, you'll be able to program them around your schedule. Have them wake you up at a certain time, dim them from your phone for mood lighting, and even change the color temperature without touching the fixture.

The typical size of smart lights is 6 inches and they are able to be put in a wet location, but always check the manufacturer's instructions to confirm.

An awesome feature of the Juno AI brand is that it can be fitted into previous standard recessed cans. 

Click here to view this Juno smart light on Amazon.


A different take on a smart light, this type of smart light is the life at the party with Bluetooth controllable color options. It will retrofit in a standard 5 or 6-inch can and can also be paired with Siri, Alexa, and Google. Certain lights come with special features to have the lights follow the sun's schedule throughout the day to keep your body attended with its natural clock.

Click here to view this Cree light on Amazon.


IC-rated recessed lighting is absolutely needed for ceilings with insulation around the install spot. Since lights that are used often can get warm, the insulation runs the chance of overheating. IC-rated lights protect the insulation and all but eliminate the chance of fires. 

You'll be able to find brands that are wet location approved and are designed with thin face trims to seamlessly fit into the ceiling. Before full installation, choose which type of color temperature works well in the room and then effortlessly attach them with spring clips.

Click here to view this Luxter IC-rated light on Amazon.


Construction recessed lighting is recommended for contractors to handle during new construction situations such as a full bathroom remodel. These types of lights are large-bodied light housing that comes with specific lightbulb sizes. In terms of overall size, construction lights are sold in 4-inch to 8-inch options. Construction lights are almost always IC-rated and can be put in damp areas.

Click here to view these TorchStar lights on Amazon.


Recessed lighting can be found in sizes of 3 inches to 9 inches. For typical homes, you'll only need to stay in the 3-inch to 6-inch range for proper lighting. A light size that's too small or too big may end up making the room look odd.

3 inches

3-inch recessed lights are going to be one of the easiest sizes to find online and in-store. Since it is a more compact size, you can install multiple and pattern them with different sizes in the same room. These are a great choice for smaller sinks and even mirror lighting.

4 inches

One of the smallest sizes, after the less used 3-inch light, this size will still give off a lot of light. Since they're on the smaller end, when used for general lighting, it best to have bulbs with 600 lumens. However, for bathrooms, fewer lumens can be used due to the smaller space. 

5 inches

A more flattering accent light, 5-inch recessed light is harder to come by. Most contractors and therefore local hardware stores, sell 4-inch or 6-inch lights. A great thing to keep in mind, however, is that recessed lights don't have to match. So if you want a little more light over the shower, you can put a 4-inch light over the sink and a 5-inch over the shower area.

6 inches

As one of the most common sized recessed lighting options, 6-inch lights are perfect to use in any room. With so many brands offering dimmable features, you can get a larger light and be able to not wash the room out. This size will have a wider light projection and is the go-to for general lighting.

What size recessed lights for a bathroom?

Interior shot of a modern bathroom in foreground the red washbasin cabinet the floor is made of wood

For smaller bathrooms, it is recommended to go with a 3-inch or 4-inch light. One 3-inch might not be enough to light the whole room, especially behind a shower curtain, so consider adding a 4-inch or another 3-inch over the shower area. Small lights give off a more modern look while larger lights have a traditional vibe to them. 

Where to place recessed lights in the bathroom?

A rule of thumb for the placement of recessed lighting is to divide the height of the ceiling by 2 to calculate the needed in-between spacing. Lights should be symmetrical and equally spaced out unless only two are in the room and being equally spaced puts one in an awkward spot. Place lights over sinks in the center and around 3 feet away from the wall to avoid unflattering shadows.

New construction buildings should be installed between exposed ceiling joints and will need to be IC-rated around the insulation. Concrete ceilings are going to be very hard to break through and are not ideal for recessed lights. Recessed lighting is a good choice for rooms with shorter ceilings and has multiple trim styles available to match your other fixtures.

How many recessed lights in a small bathroom?

For small bathrooms, only 2 will be needed, although more can always be added based on preference. Higher lumen-rated bulbs will make the room brighter with fewer lights. Place the lights in the most used areas, such as the sink and shower. For lights over the shower, make sure the brand is wet-area approved.


Recessed lighting is the better choice for low ceilings and small spaces. These lights come in different types and sizes to best fit your needs. A contractor will be able to install full housing units for the can light or you can DIY with clip-on styles. In one of the most used rooms of your home, why not have it lit perfectly?

Check out these other posts before you go:

23 Inspiring Bathroom Decoration Ideas

Does Recessed Lighting Add Value To Your Home?

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