emergency redo of recessed lighting?

threeberriesNovember 1, 2012

Hi all - My future home is being built. My builder asked us to approve the recessed lighting before wiring it. Knowing nothing about lighting, we went over to the house and observed the 6" cans he positioned throughout the first floor. I took pictures and went home to learn and analyze. I read everything I could on this site (which has been so helpful!). My gut and calculations told me there wasn't enough light, and I wanted smaller cans, but I didn't feel I had the expertise to really say what exactly should be done. And the cans were already purchased (the builder didn't check what size I wanted.) My fiance wasn't concerned and said he was sure the lighting was fine because the electrician must know what he was doing.

I decided to run the plan by an architect I know. He took a look and said the lighting plan looked fine, 6" cans were fine, and we should add a fixture in the dining room and could do a lamp in the living room if we wanted. I was already late for the deadline to tell the builder what to do, and based on the advice I got I told the builder to go ahead with the existing plan.

I still feel uncomfortable because the advice doesn't match what I learned. I went to a couple lighting stores and they told me 6" isn't used much in residential and looks dated. And they had a hard time telling me whether the amount of light was enough without knowing more about exactly what my builder put in. They said the light spread of each light should not leave gaps.

I looked again at the guideline for placing lights 6-8' apart (for non-kitchen rooms) and did some math/analysis and realized our lights are 10.5' apart in the living room, 10.5'/6.5' apart in the dining room and 6.5' apart in the kitchen. I asked the architect about this and he said he usually places lights 6' apart but figured we'd add floor lamps and table lamps in the living room. (We weren't planning that; maybe just a floor lamp if necessary.)

I can't just add more cans because my builder wired the whole thing up right after I gave him the go ahead. In fact I'm pretty sure I'd have to shell out the entire cost of the recessed lighting all over again because if we add more cans then everything has to be repositioned & rewired so they're evenly spaced. And if I'm doing that I might as well go with the 5" cans I wanted and sell the 6" cans on ebay. It's like we'd be starting from scratch. At $125 per recessed light, that's a couple thousand dollars EXTRA (beyond the cost we already paid for the existing lights).

Can anyone give me advice as to whether I really don't have enough light? I'm faced with deciding whether it's worth paying potentially another $2k to fix this. On the one hand there's the guideline of 6-8' (and 4' in kitchen?). But if there's a 6' spread/beam (?) then can't lights be 10' apart and the beams will overlap so it's ok? I'm so confused!

The details:

- 9' ceiling; open floor plan.

- 6" cans from Commercial Electric Housing

- Builder says cans accept 75W incandescent bulbs although he was planning on CFL. I hate CFL. (We wanted LED but may defer for cost reasons.) So I'm not sure exactly what the lumens will be; I did my calculations with 575 lumens per Cree LED bulb.

- Kitchen (12' x 16'): 5 cans 6.6' apart + 2 pendants over peninsula + undercabinet lighting

- Dining room (13' x 20'): 4 cans 10.5'/6.6' apart + ceiling fixture in middle

- Living room (16' x 17'): 4 cans 10.5' apart; possible floor lamp

- Stairway: 1 can in front (between dining & living room)

Thanks so much for your input; I really appreciate it. I'm really stressed out about this. I hate to pay another $2k but I also know once the ceiling goes up we're really stuck.

The plan attached below shows red circles for recessed lights and blue circles for pendants and a fixture.

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At first glance, the lighting would suffice (assuming ~ 600 - 700 lumens per can and that the center fixture provides most of the light) for the dining area. The living room may need an additional table/ floor lamp or two. The kitchen may be a little under-lit if the cans are considered alone.

$125 per can may be the going cost depending on where you are located, which is one reason for people to substitute other lighting forms when the number of cans grows.

If the ceiling is not up yet, adding more cans is not a problem - just a matter of tacking more cans in place and more 14/2 romex.

The price differential between 5" to 6" cans is negligible.
6" cans will be around for a long time and the CR6 will not fit inside 5".

Lighting stores would love to sell you 4" or smaller recessed lights as the pricing increases as the size goes down.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 6:12PM
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