Brightest bulb for 4-inch can

LinelleFebruary 12, 2012

I used to have a lone 6" can over my kitchen sink with a 65W incandescent flood. The light was perfect. My kitchen just got a facelift and I added four 4" cans and replaced the one over the sink with a 4", for a total of 5. The ambient light is great, but I want something brighter over the sink. Right now I have Philips 45W incandescent floods. I've tried Ecosmart 50W CFL flood and Halogena (both from HD) at about the same wattage. They all produce the same amount of light. The Ecosmart looks brighter in the ceiling, but the actual amount of downward light is no different. The lumens ratings are all over the map.

I haven't yet tried an LED light. The lights aren't dimmable, so that's not a factor. I'm wondering if there's anything out there that will produce something approaching 65W that will work in a 4" can. I don't care about the price. If it turns out this is a limitation of 4" cans, I may consider changing this one back to a 6".

Also, what's the difference between R20 and PAR20 bulbs? Can I use them interchangeably?

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The difference is that the PAR bulb uses a parabolic reflector. Yes, they can be used interchangeably.

An issue with the bulb in a can setup is that most of the light is trapped within the can. A 4" can has a smaller aperture than a 6".

The LED CR4 behaves differently as the LED elements are all facing outwards so that very little gets trapped.

Try the CR4 first.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 10:39AM
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David, thanks for your reply. Will the LED CR4 simply screw into my existing can, or does the housing need to be retrofitted?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 3:10PM
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If the existing housing is similar to the HI99CAT in depth, yes the CR4 will just screw into the E26 base socket.
The model number of the Home Depot CR4 is ECO4-575L.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 4:19PM
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Today I picked up an Ecosmart LED PAR20 40W equivalent at HD for $20. I'm waiting for night to fall to see if I get any more brightness out of it compared to the others. With this I will have tried incandescent, halogen, CFL and LED.

I saw the CR4 ECO4-575L when I was at HD. Everyone on this board and others says they're a snap to install in 4" receptacles. I have no electrical chops so if I go that route (which is looking more likely), I'll need some help with retrofitting.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Not all LEDs lamps are created equal.

The CR4 is really easy to fit (assuming a standard depth 4" edison base recessed can). - just screw in the pigtail, make sure the 3 prongs are fully extended and push in the module, giving it a slight clockwise twist.

The clockwise twist will ensure that the 3 prongs are fully extended and will grip the can properly.

No electrical know how is required other than the standard safety precaution of not installing the lamp when the circuit is hot/ on.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:01PM
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The procedure is almost identical for the CR4, except that the CR4 has an attached pigtail unlike the CR6.

Here is a link that might be useful: CR6 install

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:08PM
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David, thanks for the vote of confidence. Electricity is a mystery to me and I have a healthy respect for it. :)

What happens to the existing can? Does it have to come out first, i.e., is the CR4 replacing the whole unit, not just the light itself? I found some videos on Youtube and they took out the can (receptacle + trim). The guy was futzing around with little doo-dads up there.

Am I making this harder than it really is?

One of my 4" cans with 45W Philips incandescent:

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:13PM
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The existing can remains in place.

Why so many steps for the CR6/ LR6 (Edison base)
Most of the videos are about the CR6. For a standard can, there is an adjustable plate to which the E26 socket is attached. This plate is there to allow the use of various bulbs - short /long neck bulbs

The socket needs to be removed from the plate and left dangling.

For the CR4,
1. Unscrew the bulb.
2. Remove the existing trim. If your can is similar to the HI99CAT, there will not be an adjustable plate. This is most likely the case.
3. Make sure the 3 tabs are fully extended.
4. Screw in the E26 end of the pigtail.
5. Push the lamp into the existing can and give it a slight clockwise twist at the end.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 7:53PM
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David, you are most kind to take the trouble to explain this to me. I realize I have been saying can and trim interchangeably. I know they're different. It sounds like the existing trim just pops out? Is the end of the pigtail like the end of a regular bulb? If something goes awry, would I remove the CR4 by turning counter-clockwise? I'm gonna try this!!!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 8:57PM
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Yes to all.

The existing trim on your recessed can will be attached to the can by springs. This needs to be removed as the CR4 comes with the trim attached.

The end of the pigtail is the standard E26 connector.

If you need to remove the CR4, turn it counter-clockwise while pulling it out.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 9:05PM
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Picture says a thousand words.... this is the ECO4-575L (CR4) with the included, built-in trim ring and pigtail connector:

These are seriously bright - as bright as the 6" version.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 6:16AM
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I'm back yet again. :) Before buying the ECO4-575L, I decided to remove the existing trim. It seems to be in there pretty good and doesn't want to budge. I tried to unscrew it. Nothing. Should it just pop out? I get some slight downward movement, but if it's got a mechanism to hold it in place, I don't want to bust it out and damage it.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Okay, I was able to remove the trim from a different can. It seems to have been held in by 4 springs around the sides. I can see that it's meant to go in easily, but don't see any way to get it out with risking damage to the springs or ceiling texture. Any ideas how these guys are supposed to be removed correctly:

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 12:18PM
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The trim is held in place using springs which need to be unclipped/ un-hooked. Pull down slightly on the trim to find the springs.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 12:18PM
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The springs need to be forced inwards simultaneously. Probably a circular clamp could be used like a strong nylon string tied around the springs, worked upwards and tightened while you pull the trim down gently.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 1:33PM
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Yippee, success!!! I'll have to wait until nightfall to see what the light really looks like, but I can see it is much brighter than the 45W in the other cans.

The hardest part was screwing in the end of the pigtail. It was tricky holding on to the main unit with one hand while getting inside the small housing and getting sufficient purchase to engage the screw threads. Good thing I have small hands.

The trim is a little whiter than my other cans. If this is as good as I think it will be, I'll gradually swap out the others, and it'll all be good.

Thank you all for your kind and patient help. Without your encouragement, I wouldn't have dreamed I could do something like this.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 1:48PM
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Great news!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 1:51PM
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And all five of your LED lights put together will use less electricity than the one old 6" light did.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:21PM
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lee676, I know! How crazy is that? Of course, they will end up costing me $250 but if I live long enough, I'll recoup the cost.

And oh my, it is so much brighter than the regular cans. A very nice color and broad, even spread of light.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 11:43PM
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The LEDs will probably outlast all of us....

But replacing halogen PAR bulbs when they burn out adds up oveer time as well. I try to catch people before they install their recessed cans and tell them about the LED modules, since they'll save about $12 on each trim baffle they won't need.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 12:27AM
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