recessed can task lights in kitchen: white or black trim kit?

collins designApril 18, 2009

We're installing cans over the sink counter (task lighting). The lighting store I visited feels very strongly that black baffled trim kits are much better... mainly because of less glare. They showed me a dark room with a white-baffled light on, then a black-, and I could definitely see the difference: the white made a large, glare-y spot of light at the ceiling, while the black felt much softer and the light you noticed was down on the counter/floor rather than up at he ceiling.

That said, I thought the white ones disappeared into the ceiling a lot better, and I am all about having these lights as inconspicuous as possible. Also, I looked at a lot of photos of kitchens in magazines and they seem to mostly have white can baffles.

What do you guys think?

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Look at some haze trims if you have a light colored ceiling and warm haze if you have a warm colored ceiling. These have less glare than white but don't look like black holes in they daytime.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 9:26AM
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The white I have had for the past 7 months are already yellowing from the heat of the bulbs. Something to consider. According to my electrician, there are no 'high" quality white trims that do not yellow. (But there SHOULD be, for cryin out loud!)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 1:50PM
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OK... all the baffle/trim kits we have are in 2 pieces. The cone shaped baffle that fits into the ceiling and the trim ring that sits flush against the outside of the ceiling.

We used white. White reflects light and black absorbs light (and heat). We want the light. That's why it's there!

We painted the trim rings to match the ceiling color and there is no flaking or yellowing after 4 years. We used semi-gloss, Sherwin Williams, best-of-line, water-based latex. You can buy it by the pint.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 11:00AM
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The original concept for recessed lighting was to get rid of surface mounted fixtures for a minimalist look. Two types of trims were most common for round recessed fixtures. One type was just an open ring and a reflector lamp was installed with its surface flush with the ceiling and trim. This gave a wide distribution of light with lots of glare because the lamp itself was highly visible. The other type of trim, a baffle, was intended to recess the lamp up deeper into the housing and the baffle trim concealed the now exposed interior of the housing. Tucking the lamp up higher cuts off view of the lamp and greatly reduces glare when observing from across the room. These first baffles were a non glossy black to cut down on reflected light since that was the goal of the design. At some point years later someone decided they didn't like black holes in the ceiling when the lights were off and white baffles were created.

To light a room with less glare, recessed fixtures are placed at specific distances apart so the cones of light from the reflector type lamps overlap a bit for general lighting. For task and accent lighting the beams of light from individual fixtures may not need to overlap. The formula on how to lay this out is based on the light distribution of the trim and lamp used. Lamps are available with various beam spreads and wattages.

Light reflected off of a trim when using a recessed reflector type lamp, creating glare, is not desirable nor useful when the lighting is properly installed. Lack of glare in a well lit room gives an inviting and comfortable feeling to the space. The walls and furnishings reflecting light to your eye no longer have to compete with the much brighter source of light. If a lighting designer wants to call attention to a piece of art, for instance, they may put three times more lumens on it than other nearby objects and your eye will go to it. We don't want anyone to look at recessed ceiling fixtures but you can't ignore glare. People don't tend to understand why some places look so much more inviting than others and lighting plays a big part. People tend to choose well lit rooms with mid range furnishings over poorly lit spaces with higher end furnishings yet not be able to explain why.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 4:42PM
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Thanks for the history lesson.

Don't have those issues here.

Was just answering his question with what we did.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 5:40PM
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