Recessed lights: the essential guide

Recessed light fixtures are essentially used as decorative light fixtures. Their functionality has made them quite a catch in various aspects. They can be used separately or with other fixtures to create multiple lighting effects ranging from dramatic, highlighting, down lighting or ambient lighting in different interior setups. When there is an unexpected problem with the lighting system, immediately call an emergency lighting specialist to fix it. Also, check out the link to see the best architectural lighting australia.

Light architects or contractors favour recessed light fixtures for many reasons and suspected that this light fixture might never go out of style.

This article is an essential guide prospecting various features of recessed lights and how these functional components make recessed lights stand out.

Widely known as pot/can lights, these lights enhance the interior decor by highlighting the essential features of a room, making it look spacious while keeping a low profile which is designed in such a way that the bulb and socket assembly are contained in a metal housing which in some cases is also rotatable, fixed in a ceiling plane.

The use of different recessed lights depends mostly on the type of ceiling or features of the room.

These lights are quite versatile and add to the panoramic view of the interior. They have become popular over the last decade for a variety of reasons. They are conclusively used to create soft lighting effects or to highlight architectural pieces through accent or spotlighting.

The appeal of recessed lights

Although discreet, these light fixtures sure do have their visual appeal as they cast various lighting effects.

Zero visual space

They make the room appear spacious since they have little or no visual space with the housing fitted inside the ceiling, and light is cast through diffuse reflectors and flushed trims.

Wall washing Effect

A visually appealing benefit of these lights is their wall washing effect; spaced apart from each other at a certain distance according to the ceiling height, the lights flush/highlight any specific wall(s) of the room to make it appear wider brighter.

Spotlight effect

Not just visibility and ambience, these lights being tiny in size, can be used individually as spotlights to highlight any architectural feature or art piece. This effect can also be used as task lighting in several locations such as kitchen countertops, study tables etc.

In modern or remodelled spaces, mostly layers are added with recessed light fixtures such as lamps/scones to balance the lighting.

Structural features of Recessed lights

A typical recessed light has four major parts.


Housing is the main structural component of the fixture; it houses all the electrical components. The housing size determines the size of the recessed light fixture.


The trim of recessed lights is the fixture’s visible part; it is flushed with the ceiling. The trim decides the fate of light appearing through the fixture. It is available in several designs and finishes. This part is removable and helps to feature the kind of light layering needed from the fixture.

The popular kind of trims used are baffle trims, chrome trims, reflector trims, eyeball trims, pinhole trims etc


Mounting frames are used in most retrofit designs attached to other parts in the ceiling to keep the light intact.


The most important feature of a recessed light is the bulb used for several reasons, as their functionality depends on the type and shape of bulb used. LED bulbs are preferred over traditional bulb sources for a variety of reasons.

Bulb shape

1. Reflector(R)

The most common bulb type used for task lighting as the reflective surface directs all the light in a contained direction with a compact beam angle that does not allow the light to disperse.

2. Bulged reflector(BR)

It’s an Improved version of the reflector bulb type. It has a bulge near the base, which allows a focused beam of light directed outwards.

3. Parabolic aluminized reflector(PAR)

It has a parabolic shaped surface used for spotlighting; these bulbs cast a parabolic, more controlled beam angle.

4. Multifaceted Reflector(MR)

These lamps have inner reflective surfaces covered in facets which arrange the light in a tightly controlled beam

5. Tube, Spiral, Twist lamps

Although there is a reflector version of these are omnidirectional lamps in which the tube is inside a reflector shell surface.

These technical aspects help determine the use of these bulbs for general lighting or layering of light done by recessed lights in various ways considering their shapes and other functional features.

To get the best out of these fixtures, mostly strategic placement of the fixture does the job. Recessed lighting is usually done in a grid, placed equidistant from each other according to the ceiling’s height.

Considering the area where these fixtures are to be used and whether to light or highlight, knowing your light is the viable approach.

Recessed fixtures are used for general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.

When used in any area, the first approach should be the lighting plan, which will further decide which kinds of bulb or trim should be used.

Lighting plan for recessed light

To create a perfect lighting scheme, the following factors should be considered:

1. Lumens

The light intensity of a bulb which determines the brightness factor of your room. Light intensity determines the space’s theme, which differs significantly from room to room, even within a house. For example, for your kitchen, you will need a higher light intensity than for your bedroom.

2. Ceiling height

Ceiling height determines the fixture size and simultaneously the intensity of light.

3. Light quantity

The quantity of light differs according to the requirement of light. For example, when used for general lighting, more light spots are used, whereas, for task lighting, two or three fixtures do the job. So the quantity of lights differs according to use.

4. Spacing calculator

The spacing of the fixtures is calculated by the size of the fixture that is used. For example, for the 4′ fixture, 4 feet distance is required between the fixtures.


This guide outlines the essential features of recessed lights that make them compatible in various lighting designs and techniques used to enhance any space’s interior. Their versatility makes them a good fit for new or remodelled rooms and helps create the perfect indoor lighting scheme.