recessed light, max bulb over shower

homeboundJune 22, 2012

My electrician installed a 5" recessed light over a shower (with proper cover, etc.). 40w is max bulb permitted, but what is the max when using CFL bulbs (eg. 13w CFL = 60w standard bulb, etc.)? How can I max the lighting with this can light?

Thank you.

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brickeyee

The actual wattage (power) being dissipated matters, not the 'equivalent wattage of the light produced.'

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 8:08AM
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weedmeister

To answer your question: 40w.

That's kinda large for a CFL.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 3:47PM
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yosemitebill

A 40 watt incandescent rated recessed fixture over the shower seems a little low and may not produce much illumination.

Using a CFL can bring up the illumination, while staying under the wattage rating of the fixture, but you can expect a shortened life out of the CFL.

Most CFLs are designed to be used in the upright position, unless otherwise noted, which when used downwards can overheat the internal electronics leading to early failure. Also an enclosed can only compounds the temperature problem.

An ideal solution would have been a recessed LED fixture. Even Home Depot has their EcoSmart line that uses Cree LEDs.

You could use an LED replacement bulb for recessed downward installation, or then it may be more economical to simply replace the CFL once every year or two. A 23 watt CFL - equivalent to a 100 watt incandescent - would be quite bright.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 5:14PM
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SnidelyWhiplash

yousemitebill:

You said :"Most CFLs are designed to be used in the upright position, unless otherwise noted, which when used downwards can overheat the internal electronics leading to early failure. Also an enclosed can only compounds the temperature problem."

For a $10 bulb that's likely on much less than an hour per day, let's shorten the life by 50%. You're concerned then that the useful life is 10 years instead of 20 years?

I've got plenty of CFLs upside down, in enclosed fixtures, that are still going strong after 10 years. My experience would say it's nothing to be concerned about.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 7:55PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

I've got plenty of CFLs upside down, in enclosed fixtures, that are still going strong after 10 years. My experience would say it's nothing to be concerned about.

I would suspect that the CFLs produced 10 years ago were of better quality than the ones produced today. We have a enclosed porch fixture with a CFL mounted horizontally and it's on from dusk to dawn every day of the year. It's been going to 5 years now which is pretty amazing if you ask me.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:07AM
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andrelaplume2

I have similar situations in closets where a 40W bulb in the can was a joke. I have a 100w equivalent cfl in the can with a lens cover over it. It lasted 5 years before I hade to replace it. The downside...takes 30 seconds to get to max intensity...still even at start up it was brighter than the watt incandescent.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:10AM
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SnidelyWhiplash

"I would suspect that the CFLs produced 10 years ago were of better quality than the ones produced today. "

Really? What makes you think so?

My impression is the opposite, they seem much better today. The manufacturers have gotten a handle on spectrum colors (remember when they were all bluish?), instant-on intensity, etc. But my impression is only anecdotal as a consumer, I have no technical knowledge.

Putting CFLs in closets (or, over a shower as the OP said) and other places where the on-cycle is short seems silly to me. How much electricity can be saved with something that's used 10 minutes a day?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:58AM
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suburbanmd

The OP wants maximum light while staying within the fixture's 40W limit. A CFL would help. Saving electricity has nothing to do with it.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 11:30AM
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Ron Natalie

Be careful when going overboard trying large CFLs there. Once you get to 20W or so, they're bigger than a standard bulb and may no longer fit in the enclosure.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 1:38PM
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weedmeister

Also, you need to check if the CFL you are purchasing is rated for wet conditions.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 6:49PM
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joefixit2

you could also remove the $10 flat trim and install a $25 Halo drop trim which is rated for 60 watts and also brings the lamp down out of the can a bit and is MUCH better at lighting an area.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 7:53PM
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alan_s_thefirst

CFLs now are probably poorer quality because they're much cheaper. I've experienced a very high failure rate, unlike the first few I bought which were expensive but lasted very well.

Given the energy cost to manufacture items that keep breaking down, LEDs or incandescent seems to make more sense, unless the name-brand cfls are ok. I'd go with LED personally, the new ones give off a very clean light in the colour temperature range we expect to see.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 7:54PM
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SnidelyWhiplash

I only buy name brand CFLs. I've found the durability and quality to be consistently high, I can't remember the last time I had a dud (I know I've had no problems in the last 5 years).

To the contrary, I think LEDs are very promising but not ready for prime time. The ones available now are expensive and not very bright yet. As volumes increase and the technology improves to make available lots of choices at and above 1000 lumens, it will be different. For now, who needs an expensive and dim bulb with a 25K hour life? Maybe a few for outside lighting that you can leave on inexpensively, but otherwise?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 8:44PM
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brickeyee

"Also, you need to check if the CFL you are purchasing is rated for wet conditions."

As long as there is a cover over the fixture it is damp, not wet.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:28AM
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