Best Lightbulbs for bright room from recessed lighting

jockewingAugust 6, 2010

I am looking into getting recessed put in several rooms in my house, and after much research, I have finally narrowed a few things down. I know I need remodel cans with IC ratings, and I like the way the specular reflectors work. I have also found out that the really crisp white light that I have seen in some houses is produced by halogen bulbs. My concern is the spread of light produced by halogens.

As a test, I bought one of those clip-on plug in lights and attached it to the ceiling to simulate how the recessed lights will perform. Trying some incandescent 65 watt BR type lights, I get the same dingy light that I currently get from my ceiling fan light kit, but it spreads nicely throughout the room. Then I put in a 75watt Par 30 halogen, and got really strong, crisp bright white light. But--the light was concentrated in a small area and didn't spread up onto the walls at all. I don't see how that would work to light the room. This was a regular flood bulb.

After MORE research (you almost need a degree for this recessed stuff), I found out that there are Wide Flood halogen bulbs than have a beam spread that is usually double (50 degree) than the regular halogen floods you can get at the big boxes. I am going to an electric supply house today to pick up a few to try.

Will the wide flood halogens really make a difference? How is it possible to effectively light a house with halogens if the light doesn't go up onto the walls?

One lighting store was telling me about the full reflector cone trims in which you use regular A19 style bulbs, and the reflector really spreads the light out very effectively. In his display the walls were lit very well with these types of lights. But- these lights don't have the crisp brightness of the halogens.

What am I to do? Are halogens a feasible option? Due to the layout of my room and the presence of a ceiling fan, I can only fit 6 cans in my 15x18 living room, when I think 8 would be more appropriate.

Also, how far from the edge of fan blades do you need to be to avoid the "strobe-light" effect? In my current plan, all of my cans are at least 20 inches away from the end of the fan blades. Is that enough?

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I know my message isn't what you want to hear, but you're seeing why recessed lights are (IMO) the wrong tool for lighting most rooms. They're called "downlights" for a good reason!

If you want hot spots to emphasize certain features of a room, they're great. But for overall even room lighting, you need a combination of direct and indirect (reflected off ceiling and walls) lighting. By their nature, you don't get *any* indirect light from cans. About all you can do is install special "wall washer" fixtures.

Can lights are what you see in all the home improvement magazines, and many people seem to like the fact that they can't see the actual source of the light. But getting a well lit room with recessed cans requires heroic measures, or at least a rather large amount of expensive hardware.

You can do the job better at a fraction of the price, and in many cases with significantly less energy use, by using simple, inexpensive (or attractive and expensive :) surface mount or hanging fixtures.

Since you like a very white light, you should probably be considering types which are more readily available in higher color temperatures. I'd suggest fluorescent or LED lighting rather than incandescent. (I wonder if we'll ever see metal halide fixtures suitable for home use.)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 10:36AM
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Davidr, the more I think about it, the more I am coming to your same conclusion. I think I just wanted recessed since that is what "everybody else" seems to be doing. I do like the look of recessed and it provides a nice clean sightline, but I am already dissatisfied with the amount of shadowing in this room, and due to the placement of the ceiling fan (a must-have in scorching S. Louisiana) I really can't put in the number I would need for adequate lighting.

I am thinking I will have to keep my ceiling fan with the ugly light kit and maybe add some recessed (wall washers?) near the corners closer to the walls to fill in the dark spots. That would allow me to use the halogens to give me that crisp white light to supplement the ceiling fan. I just wish there were more attractive fans! I love some of the modern fans with the light protruding from the bottom encased in a glass dome (no 4 ugly lamps sticking out with the glass shades), but the one I really like only takes 2 candlebra base bulbs so I know that would do virtually nothing.

I do have a double tray in my living room and a single tray ceiling in my MBR. Thought about putting in some moulding with the rope lights or some other type of fixture to at least light the ceiling and cast some ambient light around the room. Don't know if those lights are strong enough. I bought some rope light from Home Depot and it was hardly stronger than a night light.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 7:36PM
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There is led molding - linearLux you can get from ledfolio. Unfortunately, it is rather pricey.

The. Cheapest lighting is probably a couple of bare t8 fluorescent tubes.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 4:06PM
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