Recessed lighting for kitchen, halogen or LED?

firstianDecember 3, 2011

I went looking for lighting at Wolfers today for our kitchen remodeling in the spring. For recessed light, the sales guys pulled up two recommendations: halogen or LED. Looking at the installed sample, the LED actually looked pretty nice (the sheet says it's a Lightolier Lytecaster). What surprised me was the prices. He quoted me $172 for the 5" LED, but $290 for the 4" halogen (both prices includes housing and trim). It really surprised me to hear that the halogen is so much more expensive (the sheet doesn't say what brand it is). When I asked him about all the $60 unit I see on the web, he said those are crappy model that'll likely go bad a few years. So here are my questions:

- Anyone have a kitchen full of LED recessed lights? Is it enough light, and is the light color good?

- Are good quality halogen recessed lights really that expensive? I don't mind paying more for high quality model that'll last a long time, as we are gutting the kitchen down to the studs, so any replacement will likely mean new ceiling.

- If it's really that expensive, and if LED light almost as good, why would I not use LED instead?

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Yes, my kitchen has all LED recessed lamps (LR6). I computed the number of lamps based on 35 lumens per sq ft with the output of each lamp discounted from 650 to 600 lumens.

Home Depot now has the 4" EcoSmart branded Cree recessed lights which are slightly more costly than the 6" EcoSmart branded Cree CR6.

If you use a CREE solution for recessed lights, the results would be great.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:32PM
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CREE CR6 looks like it plugs directly into a regular can. Do you know how it compares to housing used for new construction? We are ripping out the entire ceiling, so we don't have to put in 6" cans.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:10PM
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The CR6 is usable in both new construction and retrofit 6" recessed cans.

If you're tearing down the ceiling, you will be able to determine the exact location and pattern of cans you want very easily.

Next comes the question of size. 6" cans are the most common and are the cheapest. 4" cans range from somewhat more to extremely expensive, depending on what they are intended to contain (eg- CFL can with embedded ballast)

The 4" aperture is arguably more attractive than the 6" equivalent. For LEDs, the light output differential is negligible.

If you want something smaller, there is the new ECOSMART branded 4" Cree downlight which has the same output as the standard CR6 and is currently priced slightly above the CR6.

For a kitchen, the primary purpose is food preparation which requires better and more lighting than in other areas of the home. If the kitchen area has other functions, you should explore layering the lighting/ having lighting from 2 or more sets of lights and controlled appropriately.

The main cost in putting up lighting is labour. So electricians would typically gladly install as many cans as you wish.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 12:13AM
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I have six CREE CR6 LED downlights in my kitchen and it's the best lit kitchen I've ever had. The light output and color are comparable to the six PAR30s they replaced.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 12:41AM
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I really am liking the Sylvania HD Professional LED specs for the bulbs that are 95 CRI and 3000K light spectrum and very bright lumens. I may need to order online one bulb to try it out. I was going to save money and use halogen first but I like the way the 3000 LED from Home Depot looks but wish the 84 CRI would be higher like the Sylvania.

I an have the PAR38 LED with 1150 Lumens and a 30 degree flood or the PAR30 LED with only about 850 Lumens but with a 40 degrees flood radius.

Would the difference in flood radius matter in a 10 foot wide X 14 foot long kitchen?

Or I could go with a nice Halogen light that has at least a 283 but preferably a 2900 or more light spectrum since I like light spectrums over 2700 but not more than 3500K I have found out by experimenting with CFL light bulbs and LED bulbs.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:15AM
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I have here an estimate for 4 Halo H7T hi hats with LED Trim not supplied and the LED bulb not supplied. I looked up this hi hat on the Internet and it seems to be a non-insulated can unless I am looking it up wrong. What is a non insulated can versus an insulted can? My kitchen ceiling has a guest bedroom over it and not an attic or a roof.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:37AM
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It means that the can is not intended to come into direct contact with insulation.

This can will require that the entire ceiling be torn down before installation since it is intended for new construction.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 11:02AM
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Thank you Davidtay for letting me know. I had no idea there was so much work and knowledge needed to install recessed lighting.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:54PM
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If you have a room over the kitchen where you're installing the recessed lights (and thus no access from an attic above), normally you use "remodeler" cans (for Halo 6" that would usually be H7RT, or H7RICT if it's an insulated ceiling). These can be installed just by cutting a round hole in the ceiling drywall and installing from below, no need to patch up the ceiling afterwards.

I've never used the Sylvania HD LEDs (or even heard of them until this weekend when someone linked to the brochure), but I'm guessing the wider 40 degree flood on the short-neck PAR30 will look better with 8' ceilings than the narrower floods on the other sizes. I'd wonder how glare-resistant these will be, given that in all of the four sizes offered, only the center of the bulb faces lights up, with a large heat sink surrounding it. But they have the highest CRI and red-color rendering I've seen in an LED bulb.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 4:58PM
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Lee676, thank you! How do I know if I have an insulated ceiling or a ceiling not insulated?

Would it be better for me to use the less expensive halogen bulbs with a higher degree flood range that have at least a 2830K to 2950K light spectrum to save money for now since the room is cold in the winter time and not hot in the summer time with the air conditioning in it? Would I be better to wait for the LED prices to go down? I just want to make sure the bulbs I like will fit the fixture.

So far the best price is the electrician to give me 6 cans at $150 each installed but with that ugly BR40 bulb that is big and 2700K light spectrum and is not glare free to me. I wonder how big his cans are to take such a huge bulb? I think I need to ask him if his cans have springs in them to take smaller bulbs. He was going to install my fixture in my dining room for free and give me a new can over my sink. I guess I am worried his can will be outdated or so big that the bulbs will have spaces around them. What do I ask him? I would really like to start my project now and with your answer above, I am thinking I should go with the halogen for now to save money until the LED prices come down and they perfect the bulb a bit. I would like one of the wider floor Halogens but I don't want one with a 2700K light spectrum since I do not like the look with my tiles. Amazingly around 3,000 looks great. Also the PAR20 bulbs in my Zephyr hood are also nice and I know they are definitely not 2700K from research.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 11:44PM
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The most definitive way to find out is to make a small hole where you want a recessed can and look.

You or the electrician will need to know the rough layout of the structures above the ceiling and measure out the height.

If the height is Assuming a retrofit can installation, the electrician will have to find out
1. height inside the ceiling.
2. location of the beams.
3. presence/ absence of obstructions.
4. location of an existing electrical box. If you have a ceiling fixture that is the easiest thing to figure out.
5. how to get the necessary wiring to the box.

You could certainly wait for the LED pricing to drop further.

There are also rebates in various states that could help simplify the decision.

However, if there is a pressing need - such as an ongoing kitchen remodel, make some pragmatic decisions and get the necessary LED modules as they are likely to last quite a while.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 12:15AM
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Thank you David! Yes, I need better lighting now so maybe I should just make the investment after I see if there are Rebates and which electrician will install an LED Module for me. It seems the electricians want to put in incandescent modules and for me to find my own bulbs.

I will print this out and do some calls for other electricians.

I wish you lived near me in Northern NJ since I would hire you.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:45AM
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It is possible to use smaller PAR30 bulbs in 6" cans designed for the larger PAR38 or BR40 bulbs; simply using a PAR30 bulb with the existing trim would lead to a big, unsightly gap between the trim and the bulb. But there are trims available designed to allow PAR30 bulbs to fit more cleanly into a larger 6" (or larger) can, which is done by making the trim conical rather than nearly cylindrical. I don't care for the resulting aesthetics - a small bulb in a big can, but it does allow you to use PAR38 bulbs now and know that if you later want to change to a PAR30 you can do it simply by changing the trim as well as the bulb.

The LED modules with built in trims designed for 6" cans tend to look alot better than separate PAR30 bulbs and trims in a 6" can, even though the overall size of the illumated section of a Cree CR6 is about the size of a PAR30 bulb.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 3:42AM
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I cannot begin to tell you how much I love my CREE CR6 LED bulbs that I bought at Home Depot. I used regular $7 cans and the bulbs were $25 (with a $15 LIPA rebate). For $32 I can't believe how good they look. They even come with the trim ring. The light is soft yet very bright. They dim extremely well. I could not be hapopier....

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 1:18PM
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i just had my contractor install a typical 6" can, no bulbs or trim and bought the Ecosmart/CR6 from home depot which includes a trim ring. prices will range from $20-$40 depending on location/rebates. I think the $15 rebates from LIPA are over, its up to $40 now. i just made a drive to CT where they are $20 each and purchased 40 bulbs for the rest of the house and some friends. love the bulbs and hopefully i dont need to change them for 15 years.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 5:06PM
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So Ecosmart is just a rebranded Cree CR6? I'm going to go to Home Depot tomorrow to get one and try it out.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 11:33PM
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2 models

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 12:20AM
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Hey davidtay, do you know what are the practical differences between a CR6 and a LR6? The latter has higher lumen output (575 vs 650). Is it due to LR6 being less recessed? I just bought an Ecosmart 6" tonight. Looks like I need to loose the base of the can to install it. Probably get to it over the weekend. For now I plugged it into another open socket, and the light looks surprisingly good.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 9:38PM
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The LR6 has a shallower recess, does not dim as well, is heavier and yes it has a higher output. Some people don't like the fact that there is too much light spillage - very unlike recessed lighting.

If not for the price, I would go for the LR6. The 3500k version of the LR6 is quite good. It works well with the Diva CL dimmer.

Yes, you need to disconnect the socket from the base of the can.

Both are twist installed.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 11:01PM
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The LR6 is available in a deep-recessed version (LR6-DR650 or the brighter LR6-DR1000) for a more traditional recessed-light look, which look like a slightly larger variant of the CR6 when installed.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 11:17PM
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Just installed the Ecosmart 6" in an existing can. It turned on right away, and the light quality is excellent. The light output seemed to increased a bit in about 5min though. I'm quite convinced that I'm going to use LR4 for the renovation. I'm going to see if any of the lighting store has it set up in a showroom so I can take a look.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 9:44PM
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The new 4" Ecosmart branded CREE solution (lamp + can) is less than 50% the cost of a LR4 light + trim + can.

Here is a link that might be useful: ECOsmart 4

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 11:14AM
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I read in another thread that the Cree LR4 is actually 4.75" wide. Looking at the HD description, the 4" Ecosmart is the also 4.75". Do you have a link to a can that'll fit the 4" Ecosmart? Also, do you know if I need to get an IC-rated can for locations that is surrounded by insulation? Cree's LR4 product page says it can be used in both.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 1:26PM
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You should use IC rated cans if they will be in direct contact with insulation.

A reviewer for the ECO4-575L used the Halo H99RICAT.

The H99ICAT is the new construction version.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:30PM
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The Ecosmart 4" fixture at Home Depot that davidtay linked to does fit in a 4" can. I've got one installed right now.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 12:10PM
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Wish the LED Cree bulbs that Home Depot sells that includes the trim would have higher lumen's and a 2950K color spectrum offered in addition to the 2700K which I don't like.

Since most of the bulbs I tried out that I like have short necks, why would my electrician want to install deep 6" cans telling me the can has more adjustments in case I want to change the bulb?

I am not going back and forth on the GE Halogen 2850K 60 Watt 1050 lumen's bulb that has a 55 degree beam spread or the prettier color GE Halogen Reveal 75 watt bulb with 950 lumen's that has only a 25 degree beam spread. I prefer the color of the Halogen Reveal Bulb which amazed me since I do not like Incandescent reveal bulbs that I tried in my bathroom above the mirror.

One friend likes the color and brightness of the Reveal Bulb but I like the 55 degree spread of the other bulb.

I still do not understand why I need such a deep can and what do the electricians recommend on this site?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 1:25PM
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You don't need deep cans, although some depth helps reduce glare from look upwards at the lights at an angle. Anything over 2" deep unnecessary IMO.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Lee, I meant the trim was 6" but the can was deep but I am not sure how deep. The installer told me the can comes in short or deep cans and he chooses deep cans for all installations with many adjustments to fit any type of bulb and only chooses short cans if the ceiling will not allow a deep can. He claims, I am adjust the bulb outward to allow it to be closes to the surface or keep it further in and feels it is better and hardly anyone installs short cans anymore. He says it will not be as deep as a commercial installation. Did you mean anything over 2 feet or 2 inches. Bulbs are longer than 2" so I think we both have typos.

My friend bought me both types of bulbs I am considering for my holiday gift so the electrician only needs to install the cans and help me try out both bulbs. If I like the Reveal bulb better and can live with the 25 degree radius beam spread, I will not be able to buy this bulb after 7-14-11. The 55 degree spread bulb is compliant for the 2012 energy saver rules so will continue to be made.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 11:20AM
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I will choose LED recessed lights. LED lighting is the most energy-saving way of illumination in the present day, saving up to 90% energy compared to other lighting. This means that about 80-90% of the electrical energy is converted to light, while around 20% energy is lost. On the contrary, traditional lighting such as incandescent light bulbs only operate at 20% energy efficiency.

LED light bulbs have extremely long lifespan. They are expected to operate up to 100,000 hours. This means that an LED light bulb could operate continuously for about 11years, which is 3 to 10 times longer than compact fluorescent lamps and 60 times as long as incandescent bulbs.

LED lights do not contain any toxic substances. Most fluorescent lights contain a multitude of toxic chemicals like mercury that are dangerous for our health and the environment.

LED light bulbs emit less CO2 than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they are 100% recycle, offering you a greener life.

LEDs produce little heat or UV rays, while traditional
incandescent lights emit a large amount of waste heat. And compact fluorescent lamps are reported to generate a multitude of UV rays, which is a potential risk of getting skin cancer.
Because of this benefit of LEDs, LED lights are suitable for objects or materials that are sensitive to heat or UV rays.

LED lights operate well under colder and lower outdoor temperature than fluorescent lamps. Therefore, LED lights are extremely suitable for outdoor winter settings.

LED lights brighten up instantly as soon as you turn the power on without any seconds. In contrast, fluorescent lights may take several seconds to brighten up.

Here is a link that might be useful: My LED recessed lights source here

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:53AM
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Obviously dude, you should go for led lights because these are cool, consume less energy, have better & bright light and also these are ecofriendly which gives you a reasonable electricity cost. A big thing is that these are pretty cool like as you said.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ecoled

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:25AM
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