12 Types Of Recessed Lighting [And 4 Types Of Compatible Lightbulbs]

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Recessed lighting is a type of lighting that doesn’t take up any space. This is because the fixture and bulbs are set directly into the wall, ceiling, and even the floor. When shopping for recessed lighting, it is essential to know the different types of fixtures and bulbs. This is important when shopping because you need to be aware of how much energy a fixture or bulb uses if you are trying to lower your electricity bill or be environmentally conscious. We have researched all the types of recessed lighting to create a thorough reference for you!

This post will include descriptions of 12 different kinds of fixtures (also known as cans) and trims and four different bulb types. The fixtures and trims we will talk about are:

  1. New construction
  2. Remodel
  3. Retrofit
  4. Airtight housing
  5. Shallow ceiling housing
  6. Sloped ceiling
  7. Insulation contact
  8. Non-insulation contact
  9. Flanged/flangeless trim
  10. Flat trim
  11. Reflectors
  12. Wall wash trim

Next up, we have the light bulbs. Again, we have included descriptions of these four common light bulbs so that you can make the best decision when it comes to energy efficiency and the level of lighting you want.

  1. Halogen bulbs
  2. Incandescent bulbs
  3. Compact fluorescent bulbs
  4. LEDs

Now that you know why it’s important to be educated and what types we will discuss, it’s time to get on the list!

A wooden texture ceiling with modern pin lighting, 12 Types Of Recessed Lighting [And 4 Types Of Compatible Lightbulbs]

Types Of Fixtures And Trims

1. New Construction

There are two different housing types for recessed lighting: new construction and remodel. New construction recessed lighting fixtures are placed into the ceiling before it is drywalled. As you might have guessed from the name, the lighting is put into a new home as it is built.

To install new construction lighting, you need to have full access to your ceiling. This is because of the way these lights are installed.

This kind of fixture comes in many different sizes and styles. We will discuss some specific new construction fixtures later in the list. This type of lighting is sturdy because it is directly attached to the ceiling joists.

2. Remodel

If you are looking for remodel lights, these 4-inch Sunco LED lights are a great place to start your search.

Click here to see these Sunco remodel lights on Amazon!

Remodel lighting is similar to new construction lighting, and a lot of people confuse the two. However, as the name suggests, remodel fixtures can be put into a house during a remodel, whereas new construction lighting is placed when the home is built.

Remodel housing is smaller and lighter than new construction housings. You want to remodel housing when you have no or limited access to your ceiling.

These fixtures are placed into precut ceiling openings and secured with metal clips. They are secure, but not as secure as they would be if built into the house. 

3. Retrofit

Amico makes a high-quality retrofit housing that is available in 4-inch sizes and 5-6 inch sizes. 

To see it on Amazon, click here.

This kind of housing looks playful and modern. Instead of being set into the ceiling, it hangs down. In addition, this option is more economical than new construction and remodel housings.

To install it, you remove an existing trim and attach the retrofit light to the housing with clips. 

4. Airtight Housing

To show you what an airtight fixture looks like, we found this TorchStar 6-inch can light.

Click here to check out this Torchstar light on Amazon.

Airtight cans are better than non-airtight cans. Even though they aren’t completely airtight, they allow less airflow than non-airtight lights. Airtight housing aims to prevent heat and air conditioning from leaking out the holes around the fixture.

For someone who is trying to save money, airtight housings are the most economical option. To tell if your fixture is airtight, check the packaging or look inside the fixture. If it has a lot of holes, it isn’t airtight. 

5. Shallow Ceiling Housing

Recessed lighting outside a house using incandescent lighting

If you don’t have a lot of room, you may want to utilize shallow ceiling lights. Shallow ceilings light fixtures are usually five inches deep or less. 

Deeper housings are ideal because they produce less glare. However, if you have ceiling joists that are two inches by 8 inches or less, they won’t fit. Most houses range from 2 inches by 4 inches up to 2 inches by 12 inches. 

6. Sloped Ceiling

This Nicor fixture is an excellent example of what sloped ceiling lighting looks like. 

Check it out on Amazon by clicking here!

If your ceiling is sloped, you will need special housing and trim specifically designed for a sloped ceiling. You can find them in either remodel or new construction housings, and both IC (insulation contact) and Non-IC (non-insulation contact).

This type of fixture is longer on one side so that it will fit the slope in a way that allows the light beam to shine straight down. As a result of its shape, this fixture is sometimes also called a shovel-cut can. 

7. Insulation Contact

Halo created a shallow recessed can light that is IC rated and perfect for installing in tight places.

To check it out on Amazon, click here.

Every fixture is either insulation contact rated  (IC) or non-insulation contact (non-IC) rated. It is important to know which one your fixture is because that determines how and where housing can be installed. Most housings are IC-rated because they are the safest.

IC-rated housings can be in contact with fiberglass or cellulose insulation and tend to have lower wattage lamps and better insulation of heat. As a result, IC-rated fixtures are cheaper to run because they are more energy-efficient.

8. Non-Insulation Contact

Unlike insulation contact-rated lights, non-insulation contact lights cannot be in contact with any insulation. This is because they produce more heat than their counterparts.

As a result of their excess heat production, they are a fire hazard. If you find that you have non-IC lights, you will need to get a professional to take them out and install IC-rated ones. If that’s not an option, you can replace the bulbs with LED bulbs, and it won’t be a hazard anymore.

9. Flanged/Flangeless Trim

There are many trims, but the first ones we are going to talk about are flanged and flangeless trims. Flanged trim has a lip that goes onto the ceiling surface. This trim is easy to install on your own.

Flangeless trim is the opposite. It doesn’t have any lip and sits level with the ceiling. While you can install a flanged trim on your own, lights with flangeless trims must be professionally installed. 

10. Flat Trim

Your lighting doesn’t have to be boring! If you are looking for something unique with a flat trim, check out this 4-inch light from MW Lighting with color control.

Click here to see this light on Amazon.

For someone who wants a minimalistic look, you should aim for a flat trim. The reason for this is that flat trim creates a very minimalistic look. It is so minimalistic; you almost can’t see the lights. Instead, they look like part of the ceiling, wall, or floor. 

11. Reflectors

In homes with high ceilings, it can be hard to achieve proper lighting. That is where reflector fixtures come in. They are ideal for use in rooms with high ceilings or if you want to use your light for task lighting. 

Not only do reflectors maximize light production, but they also direct it downward. As a result, your room will be well-lit. 

12. Wall Wash Trim

Do you have a piece of art you would like to highlight? If so, you probably want to get a fixture with a wall wash trim. This is because this type of trim directs light to the side. 

You can use this light to draw attention to features or decorations you want other people to notice. Plus, it looks fancy and modern. 

Types Of Light Bulbs

Once you are knowledgeable about the types of trims and housings, it becomes important to understand what light bulbs to use. Different accommodations require different bulbs, so be sure to know what bulb your fixture takes. In addition to knowing what bulb it takes, be sure to check the wattage it can handle as well. 

The four most common bulbs are halogen, incandescent, LEDs, and compact fluorescent bulbs. Each light has a different brightness and energy efficiency that make them ideal in different situations.

1. Halogen Bulbs

Incandescent light on a white background

Halogen bulbs use halogen gas to create light. Compared to some of the other incandescent light bulbs, halogen bulbs have moderately higher efficiency, longer life, and a higher quality of light. They work well for spotlights and floodlights.

However, they tend to get extremely hot. As a result of this generation of heat, they can sometimes start fires if improperly installed. If you want to save money, halogen bulbs are not the way to go as they tend to cost a lot to run compared to LEDs and fluorescent bulbs.

2. Incandescent Light Bulbs

A man replacing a dangling lamp with a new incandescent bulb

Incandescent lights are the most common type of light bulb. These lights work by heating a filament with electricity. They burn extraordinarily bright and send light out in all directions. As a result, they aren’t very energy efficient. 

They were so energy-inefficient that The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 changed how these bulbs were being made.  They mandated that light bulbs between 40 and 100 W be 25% more efficient. Click here to learn more about this act on the EPA’s website. 

3. LEDs

For a more energy-efficient bulb, check out these dimmable, color-changing LED bulbs made by iLC. 

To see them on Amazon, click here. 

LED stands for light-emitting diode. They are highly energy-efficient and one of the best lighting options. An LED bulb will produce light up to 90% more efficiently than other light bulbs. 

Unlike other light bulbs, LED lights don’t burn out. Instead, they only get dimmer as time goes on. Because of this, they are ideal for people who want long-lasting light that give off a good amount of light. 

4. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

A man replacing a dangling lamp with a new incandescent bulb

Instead of using a halogen or incandescent bulb, fluorescent bulbs provide a more energy-efficient option. They come in screw-in and plug-in models. Compact fluorescent bulbs are known for being cheap, energy-efficient, and their long life. 

There are a couple of downsides to these bulbs. First, they usually have mercury in them because they work by using electricity to excite mercury vapor. Second, they can take 30 seconds to 3 minutes after being turned on to reach their full brightness. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many different types of trims and fixtures for recessed lighting. In addition, depending on what kind of housing you choose and how energy efficient you want your lights, there are four main kinds of light bulbs to choose from. 

Now you have an idea of what kind of things to look for in recessed lighting. But, before you go, feel free to check out the links below to explore this blog. 

Can You Put Recessed Lighting In A Garage?

10 Best Sloped Ceiling Recessed Lighting Fixtures

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