When is a 4 inch light not 4 inches? When it's a Cree!

grumpydaveNovember 9, 2011

I recently replaced all the 6" lights in my kitchen with Cree CR6s. It was super easy and I love how they look and work so I decided to do the same with the soffit lights. I pulled one down and measured the can. It's 4" wide. Perfect! Cree has the LR4 4" fixture. Everything on their website says it and the matching cans are 4 inches.

Those of you who know what you're doing when it comes to lighting probably see where this is going.

I bought a single LR4 to see how it would look. Upon receiving it I pulled it out of the package and held the fixture up to the existing can. Huh? The LR4 doesn't even come close to fitting inside my 4" cans. I measure and the supposed 4" LR4 is actually about 4-3/4" wide. I can only assume the supposed 4" can they sell for it is actually 5" wide. Is this normal? Am I just an uninformed idiot? Wait, don't answer that!

So, now I'm looking for an alternative. My current cans have PAR20 bulbs and I want to have LEDs. I bought a GE Energy Smart LED PAR20 at HD and screwed it into the existing fixture (CapriLighiting R401). The light spread is too focused and frankly it looks funny as did all the PAR20 LEDs. I also bought a Sylvania A19 Ultra LED and tried that too. It's workable and it's a LOT cheaper than the Cree LR4, but it also looks a little odd as the bulb is round and sticks down further than the PAR20. I'd like it to be a little warmer too. Both bulbs were dimmable which is a plus.

Any suggestions for a good, warm, wide, dimmable LED PAR20 bulb I can just screw into my existing fixtures?

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that's a bummer.....I was looking at the same light for my 4 inch cans

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:20PM
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You could certainly try a Sylvania RT4 LED downlight which will fit into most existing 4" cans. They have two color temps available and would come close to matching the CR6 downlights in color and appearance. LED PAR20 lamps usually have a narrow flood beam angle in the 25-30 degree range. You might instead look at LED R20 bulbs which typically have a much wider beam angle suitable for use in a general downlight application.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 1:19PM
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As a matter of fact I just ordered a Sylvania RT4 yesterday from Polar-Ray. I saw them while ordering the rest of the CR6's I need for the hallways. I'll post my opinion after it arrives on Thursday.

Funny thing is, despite all the Cree literature listing their lights and cans as 4" the ONLY reference I could find via Google about them not fitting standard 4" cans was a posting right here by you (Polar_Sean) a few months ago. Wish I would have seen that first.

I agree about the LED PAR20's. I can't find any wider than 25 degrees or so. The one I have is 20 degrees and it's way too narrow for my purpose. The A19 I have is workable but I'm hopeful for the RT4.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 11:08PM
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"I measure and the supposed 4" LR4 is actually about 4-3/4" wide."

Maybe they are using 'metric' inches.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 4:18PM
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As promised I took pictures and posted my results. See the forum posting linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: LED comparison thread

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 2:42AM
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Well you missed what may be the best 4" LED module there is - the new Cree CR4 !

Well, sort of. They don't call it a CR4, but for all practical purposes, the new Ecosmart ECO4-575L is the new little brother of the highly-regarded CR6. For whatever reason, Cree doesn't seem to be selling these under their own brand name yet, but just as well since Home Depot's Ecosmart-branded versions are usually less expensive, and appear to be identical except for a slightly shorter warranty.

The ECO4-575L somehow managees to be just as bright, and maybe even more efficient than its larger relative. The box shows it draws only 9.5 watts (one watt less than the CR6), and matches the CR6's 575 lumens, incandescent-matching 2700K color, 90 CRI with Cree's TrueWhite technology, 35,000 hour life, 3 year warranty from HD, integral white recessed trim and diffuser, instant on, and dimmability (not specified how low, but the CR6 dims all the way down to 5%). As with the CR6, it has a standard Edison base, but a GU24 version is available for those on the left coast.

This definitely not a clone of the LR4 - it's a new design with three rotating clips to hold it into place, though the clips are much smaller and less obtrusive than on the CR6. The trim is 4 7/8" diameter, and the internals are just under 3" wide and designed to install in "most standard and shallow 4 in. cans". The Energy Star site (at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=ssl.display_products_res_text ) shows Cree's published specifications to be conservative, with the government's tests showing both the 4" and 6" downlights producing at least 585 lumens from only 9.1 watts. If there's any downer, it's that there's more glare than with the CR6, a natural result given that the same brightness of light is emanating from a smaller area (about 2 1/2" diameter) and it's also less deeply recessed than in the CR6 (about 1" rather than 2"). And perhaps because it's still new, it sells for $50 at HD whilst the CR6's price has dropped to $40 (both may be priced lower if your locale has incentives in places). Still, it's the best looking 4" LED module I've yet seen.

HD has a cheaper 4" LED module sold under their Commercial Electric brand, but it's 3000K and lower CRI and looks a bit cold compared to incandescent/halogen downlights, although they have the advantage of being usuable in wet locations and have a nice-looking anodyzed brushed nickel as well as white finishes available.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 6:57AM
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THANK YOU!!! That could be exactly what I'm looking for. I'll run down to Home Depot today and look for them. For my particular application I'd like them even warmer than 2700K but if they match the CR6s in my ceiling I'd be very happy with them.

On a side note, in another thread here someone pointed out the Tuwago brand LED bulbs. They use CREE LEDs and come in PAR20, R20, and A19 sizes among others. They're listed as instant on and dimmable. I was going to order one of each for a comparison. Their PAR20 has a 100 degree spread and has a diffuser across the face so it's not butt ugly like all the other PAR20 LEDs I've seen, but unfortunately it's color temperature is 3000K. The R20 and A19 come in 2700K though.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 11:55AM
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You're more than welcome.

I find the CR4, oops i meant ECO4-575L, to be an exact match in appearance to the CR6 in regards to color and appearance, as well as quality (the heatsink stays cool). As I mentioned, it does wind up looking brighter, as usually the R20 incandescent floodlamp bulbs you would use in a 4" can are less bright than a typical R30 bulb in a 5" can, which in turn is usually less bright than a R40 in a 6" can.

One difference in design is that the Edison base is not permanently attached to the LED module as in the CR6. As you can see from the picture above, the base dangles from the rest of the module from a pair of twisted wires (hot and neutral). This prevents the socket-removal step I've read about in the CR6 instructions that's necessarary with some non-Cree cans, although I've never had to do that in any can i've installed one in thus far.

I've looked at the Tuwago bulbs - although they use Cree LEDs, the electronics are different, and they don't have Cree's "TrueWhite" technology (turning on red and/or yellow LEDs to maintain color temperature), and thus have a 80 CRI rather than Cree's 90. Their lower-wattage A19 bulb isn't dimmable, an is so directional they list it as a 130ú wide floodlamp in their specs (not necessarily a bad thing, of course). I like that they're 2700úK rather than a cooler 3000K that many manufacturers use because it makes for a slightly brighter and more efficient bulb. 3000K LEDs look better on a spec sheet (or to Energy Star), but usually 2700K looks better to my eyes. Though many of Tuwago's bulbs look indistinguished to me, I do want to check out their LED candelabra bulb, which looks to be the best combination of brightness, aesthetics, and color I've thus seen.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 3:49PM
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It's a winner! I picked up a "CR4" from Home Depot today. It was a snap to install. Physically, they're both good looking fixtures but the EcoSmart diffuser is recessed a little higher and is a perfect match for the CREE CR6 as you mentioned.

It's still daylight but I can already see the difference between the Sylvania RT4 and the EcoSmart fixture. The Sylvania has a distinct green tint but the EcoSmart does not. It looks great! Best of all the EcoSmart does not suffer from the turn-on delay and flicker of the Sylvania. It actually does have a barely perceptible fade up to full brightness just like the CR6 (1/10th second, maybe?) but it's actually kinda nice.

The real rub is that the Sylvania costs the same as the EcoSmart. Thank goodness the CREE LR4 didn't fit, these will save me a few hundred dollars. Now I need to run back to Home Depot and pick up five more.

Sylvania RT4 on left. EcoSmart ECO4-575L on right.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 4:24PM
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Glad it worked out.

I just saw it online for the first time a few days ago and thought "hey, whuzziss? Had to look closely to realize it was something new. Then bought one the next chance I had, even though I don't know where I'm putting it yet. I'll find a place or make a new one.

Thus far, my common solution for putting LEDs in 4" cans was to use a black step baffle, a dark brown or bronze anodized trim, or other trim designed for a R20 (small) incandescent reflector bulb, but instead use an inexpensive 25w- or 40w-equivalent LED A19 bulb, which are typically 5 to 8 watts. Good ones to use are those shaped like regular incandescent light bulbs (called A19 shape), but where only the top half of the bulb lights up. This works to your advantage when placed in a recessed can, and those designed for an R20 or A19 will fit perfectly. I've used the Philips 5w AmbientLED (which is 3000K but still looks quite warm, and is very well diffused), but not dimmable. The aesthetics are good since there's not much gap between the bulb and the trim, and it's not bright enough to be glaring, so what you see is a glowing round frosted globe recessed into your trim. Home Depot has these for $13. Also good is the Utilitech sold at Lowe's (made by Feit I think) in its 7.5w, 3000K incarnation. These are much brighter, and again well diffused, and dimmable. But Lowes keeps inexplicably raising the price on these - I bought several a few months ago when they were $10, but last week they were $13, and now they're $15.98. Home Depot has a $10 Ecosmart 8.5 watt A19 bulb (made by Lighting Science) that doesn't work as well as the two aforementioned bulbs in this application, as it isn't well diffused, similar to an old frosted (rather than soft-white) incandescent bulb in appearance. Likewise a Philips 8w traditionally-shaped bulb that sells for about $20, but that one is 2700K. There are lots of manufacturers that make these if you're willing to spend more, but cheap is the whole point with this arrangement. If I were spending more, I'd probably get a real R20 LED bulb, or the new Cree/Ecosmart 4" module.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 8:59PM
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> It actually does have a barely perceptible fade up to full brightness just like the CR6 (1/10th second, maybe?) but it's actually kinda nice.

This BTW is a feature, not a bug. It's done intentially to emulate the slight ramp-up time when you flick on an incandescent lamp. Some people find an LED's immediate full brightness upon being turned on disconcerting. Although I think all of us prefer either to the dog-slow fade up to full brightness of a CFL.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 9:09PM
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For those following along, here's a short video that shows the turn-on delay of the Sylvania compared to the EcoSmart. The Sylvania is on the left if that wasn't obvious.

Now to find some 2700K under cabinet LEDs to match. The oft recommended environmentallights.com are 3000K. I may have to buy one of their sample kits to compare.

Here is a link that might be useful: Video of Sylvania RT4 and EcoSmart CR4

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 9:25PM
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There is a 2700k variant of the environmentallights Ucl led. Superbrightleds.com has better pricing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Superbright link

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Great thread for a newbie. We are building a house and have read about the CREE's hear and there. So, they are the best LED's? We can install just about anything. If I'm reading correctly, we should install the CREE CR6's in the kitchen and baths and install 5" cans everywhere else. They want $4K more to install LEDs for the whole house. So, I think we're going to opt to install regular incandescent lights everywhere but the bath/kitchen (due to code) and slowly change out to LEDs as time/$$ arises.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 12:18AM
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Cree lights for recessed cans are probably the best.

Depending on your personal preferences, you may want to explore other lighting types since the traditional recessed can light does not work very well.
If you are subject to energy efficiency laws such as Title 24, installing regular incandescent lights into recessed cans might be problematic.
1. New recessed cans will not use the E26 base (Edison screw in base).
2. You'll need to stockpile bulbs.

Create another discussion thread if necessary.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 12:50AM
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I certainly haven't tested every LED option out there, but I can say without hesitation that the CREE fixtures are top notch. They look and act just like incandescent lights. Granted, they aren't just screw-in replacements for every bulb in your house.

I just replaced fourteen 6" can lights (PAR30) with CREE CR6's and have six more 4" lights to replace in the kitchen soffits. I'll admit, though, that saving energy via efficiency is only part of the picture for me. I live in the Southwest desert. Our Summer energy bills are brutal so heat management is part of daily life here. I like these fixtures because I have a lot of lights in my kitchen and these don't contribute nearly as much heat to the room. This saves money on A/C AND it just plain makes the room more comfortable to live in. These fixtures aren't cheap, though. I don't know how long it'll take to recoup the cost but I really don't care if I'm more comfortable day in and day out without sacrificing the quality of the light.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 2:06AM
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We installed 32 Cree CR6's when we remodeled our basement. I just can't say enough good things about them.
We used Halo IC's (I think, anyway, they were compatible, according to the list on Cree's site.) Didn't need to spend the extra money for "special" cans or trims. Just make sure the cans are not shallow. Had to switch out 4 that inadvertently got mixed into my order.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 12:14PM
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I have seen the Sylvania PAR20 and PAR30 replacement bulbs at Lowe's, but does anyone know where their Ultra HD bulbs might be found? They seem to have better specs than the standard ones, and I'm finding that the LED types aren't as bright as the halogen bulbs were, even though they have the same lumen output rating. Thoughts, anyone?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 2:52AM
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Hilltop55, I am also finding the Halogen bulbs brighter and I think it is because the ones I have seen are CRI = 100 rating while the LED bulbs are 84 to 92 CRI Rating. I hope one day the LED bulbs can be as bright with a 100 CRI rating and maybe a 2950 Color spectrum index (think that is what the bulb I love is with that perfect Zephyr Range Hood light that is 50 watts). I think I saw a 4" LED that was 92 CRI and 2850K which sounded great but I only saw it online and it is for a 4" can.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 10:39PM
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You may be right about the CRI being a factor, lynn2006.

I just tested the Utilitech for the delay that grumpydave found in the Sylvania, and I have to say the Utilitech did have a slight delay but it wasn't nearly as obvious as that shown in grumpydave's video. I couldn't live with the Sylvania delay, but I haven't really found the Utilitech delay noticeable.

I've had the Utilitech PAR30-type LED lamp in my 6" Juno fixture now for about a week, and I rather like it. The light is whiter than the nearby halogens - more like daylight in fact - so whiter in a good way, in my opinion. If all the fixtures had LEDs in them, I think I could live with it. I think I will put the LED lamp into one of the fixtures located over the floor to make sure the light reaches, but I believe this might be a winner for me.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 3:38PM
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Hilltop55, What wattage is the Utilitech PAR30-type LED Bulb?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 7:48PM
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Thanks for the tip about the "CR4". My DW will like those better than the planned cr6s since we plan to put so many in our kitchen. However, we're bound by Title 24 to use Gu24 cans. Does anyone know if the ECO4-575L comes in a gu24 version? I didn't see one at HD today. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 3:53AM
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Yes, they do. If you live in CA they probably have them in stores and/or online.

model numbers are either ECO4-575L-GU24 or ECO4-575L-GU24-CA

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 6:57AM
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Lynn2006, just to clarify the CRI is not a measure of brightness. It's a measure of quality. I don't know exactly what is measured but the CRI indicates how closely the light from the fixture matches an incandescent. The halogens are CRI=100 because they're the gold standard that the alternate technologies are trying to replicate. The CREE CR6 has a CRI of 90 and they look excellent to my eye.

Most manufacturers state on the packaging what wattage their bulbs are equivalent to for brightness. Sometimes you can trust them and sometimes you can't. If you're concerned with the lack of brightness then just buy the next brightest bulbs in the line (if possible) and add a dimmer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Color Rendering Index

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 11:22AM
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Grumpydave, thank you so much for explaining CRI to me and providing the link. Yes, I want bright bulbs that I can also dim.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Hey folks, just wondering if anyone has dealt with defective CR4 downlights? I have 6 cans attached to a Lutron Skylark Contour C L Dimmer, which is one of the most recommended dimmers for the LEDs. The lights work, and there is no flickering regardless of how low I dim the lights. However, a couple of the CR4s have a more amber/red appearance (compared to white) when dimmed at about 50% or less.

Has anyone else experienced this?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:57PM
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"This BTW is a feature, not a bug. It's done intentially..."

And to hide the ramp up in the internal switching power supply charging the filtering capacitors.

Try turning the light off and then on quickly and see if it is actually the same on the second turn on cycle.

It is the height of marketing to claim something inherent in the design and technology is somehow a feature.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:19PM
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I got a Cree ECO4 yesterday, and notice that it is a bit more yellow than my CR6. Just a bit. It also doesn't seem to have quite the total light output. Again, just a bit.

I got a 4" Nova can (gu24, NHIC-4G24AT) to test it out. That can has the socket in a fixed location, and the pigtail is barely long enough to be able to attach; smaller hands helps.

I'm considering CR4's everywhere in the kitchen and living room, rather than the CR6. Any reason why not to, other than a bit more cost? We think the smaller lights look a bit more elegant.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:41PM
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> And to hide the ramp up in the internal switching power supply charging the filtering capacitors.

> Try turning the light off and then on quickly and see if it is actually the same on the second turn on cycle.

My CR6's do the 1/10-of-a-second ramp-up even when switched off and back on quickly.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 10:11PM
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It seems as though there are 10.5W and 9.5W versions of the EcoSmart CR4 and CR6. I assume the 9.5W are newer but they don't seem to be available in Canada.

What cans do you recommend for the CR4?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 5:05PM
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Possible candidates for consideration
Halo 4" LED Retrofit Housing - H995RICAT
New construction

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:30PM
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What exactly is "New Construction"?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 9:12PM
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New Construction cans are intended for use when the ceiling hasn't been installed. They come with nailers which are typically attached to the joists/ beams and make for a more secure connection.

Retrofit cans are intended for situations where New construction cans cannot be used - such as the space above the ceiling is difficult to access, so a hole is cut from below and the can inserted through the hole. The can is held in place with clips holding onto the ceiling board.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Thanks. I guess the difference between the H995RICAT and H99RT is the insulation contact. I only see the latter available locally though. Would it be okay to use if I'm just putting in lights on the first of two floors?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 1:46AM
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> It seems as though there are 10.5W and 9.5W versions of the EcoSmart CR4 and CR6. I assume the 9.5W are newer

The 575-lumen CR6 has always used 9.1 watts - that's what the government found when it was submitted for Energy Star certification - but Cree rated their lamps conservatively at 10.5w. More recently they changed the box design and now label it as 9.5w, which is still slightly more that it really uses.

One thing that really has changed (other than the price dropping) as that it's now rated for use in wet locations (such as above showers) where water could splash on it. Both the box and the lamp bezel itself are so labelled. The old box design and the lamps in them were rated merely for "damp" locations (such as in a bathroom but away from the tub or shower). Again, I'm not sure whether anything has changed in the new lamps, or whether Cree (or some other entity) only recently decided they were adequately water-resistant. The CR4 has always been sold as 9.5w and unlike the CR6 remains not approved for wet locations.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Thanks for clearing that up. It's confusing since Home Depot sells both a "9.5" and a "10.5."

Another question I have is how does 575 lumens equal to a 65 watt incandescent? I thought generally 800 lumens is equivalent to a 60 watt.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Tonight I purchased the Cree EcoSmart ECO4-575L GU24 from Home Depot. I'm so excited because of all the raves reviews I've read about these modules. These are new & remodel recessed lights.
I NEED to find compatible GU24 cans as quickly as possible. I'm planning to use the GU24 base in areas where I have to be Title 24 compliant. I read in another Garden Web thread the Elco EL99ICA-G24 4" can is comptaible. Anyone have a can they used that worked perfect with the GU24 socket?

I wasn't sure whether I should use GU24 OR Edison based modules in the other areas (hallway & living room) where Title 24 is not a concern. Any thoughts?

Any other feedback about the modules/lights would be greatly appreciated!


    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 7:31AM
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>>I wasn't sure whether I should use GU24 OR Edison based modules in the other areas (hallway & living room) where Title 24 is not a concern. Any thoughts?

I suggest using Edison anywhere you are not required to use something else. They are generally cheaper, and more versatile down the road if you want to put something else in them.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Grumpydave or Lee676 or anyone else - Do you know if the Home Depot Ecosmart ECO4-575L ("CR4") by CREE would work for me with my Lightolier recessed set-up? Basically, they are cone shaped trims that are held in place by 4 clips. When I pull them out of the ceiling, there's no can or anything, just empty space and 4 clips. I'd love to use the CR4's but I'm not sure there's anything for them to grab onto? Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Regarding Cree LR4 I purchased these for my son's bathroom remodel and found they do not dim well despite trying multiple Lutron dimmers. The dimming was non-linear and they would not dim to reasonably low perceived light levels. I have tested the Ecosmart and Cree CR4's and both dim much better. I am in California so Title 24 requires not using the Edison connector. However I cannot find a GU-24 can. I see he same problem mentioned I the string above by sfelod back in Sep 2012. Called Cree and they could not help me in late 2013. What gives? Has anyone found a GU-24 can (new construction) for the Cree or Ecosmart CR4?

Also is there any difference in the Ecosmart vs. Cree. I cannot see any.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:19PM
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Hi RickBrown_San_Ramon
I purchased all Ecosmart CR4 from Home Depot. Not sure if they still have them, they seem to come in & out of stock.
I chatted several times with Cree & they told me they are exactly the same as CREE that Home Depot just re-packs them in 4 packs. IF you call Cree & talk with one of the guys there, they will tell you they are identical.
I can't remember the cans we bought with the GU24 connector base, but we did buy them. I have to look back at receipts from our renovation. (We are located in SF, so we had to comply with Title 24)
We bought our cans from a electrical shop in Bayview where our contractor sent us.

If you are interested, I will look up the name of the electrical shop. We purchased both new construction & renovation cans.
Also, there was a shop I found online that sold the Cree 4" lights IF Home Depot hadn't got more in. They were about $12 more each versus the Home Depot 4 pack.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:50PM
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we bought a bunch of CR4s from our local lighting distributor and the cans they recommended for new construction were ELCO EL99As. They are having trouble keeping up with stock demands as there is a lot of construction in the area right now.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 4:26PM
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