Recessed Lighting Guide

Recessed Lighting Guide

Recessed Lighting Tips

Many design professionals use recessed lighting in nearly every room of the house. Because the source of the lighting isn’t viable, recessed lighting can fit into any design scheme and provide bright, clear light from various sources. Unlike most overhead lights, you can position recessed lighting to eliminate dark spots and shadows in a room. Here’s how to select the right recessed lighting that is right for your application.

Step 1. Check local ordinances about lights for your home. In many areas, you may have to comply with safety and energy codes when remodeling or building new construction.

Step 2. Choose Remodel or New Work lights based on your needs. New Construction can be installed between the ceiling supports from above. Remodel lights are designed to be installed from below the ceiling.

Step 3. Decide whether you want Air-Tight (energy savings) housings. Air-Tight housings are designed to reduce the amount of heat and air conditioning lost when recessed lights are used. Some areas require them.

Step 4. Check to see if there is insulation above your ceiling. If insulation has been installed, you will need to install an «IC» rated housing to prevent fire hazards.

Step 5 :Decide on the type of lightbulbs you wish to use in the recessed cans. Choices included: incandescent, fluorescent, halogen and LED.

Step 6. Choose housings that reduce glare and offer maximum lighting.

Step 7. Choose the trim that coordinates with your room/design choices.


IC-Rated. «IC» is short of Insulation Contact. This means that any housing with an «IC» rating can make direct contact with ceiling insulation. Generally, these housings can handle up to 100 watts of light output.

Non IC-Rated. This means that these housings can NOT make direct contact with insulation. Some codes allow you to use and space the insulation 3″ away and some codes do not allow you to use Non «IC» Housings at all if insulation is present. These housings are still used because they usually allow for higher wattage, but now with the introduction of the new «IC» Air-Tight housings that can handle the same higher wattages, these Non «IC» housings are being phased out gradually.

Air-Tight & «IC» Rated Housing. this means that this housing is «Air Tight» rated and is also «IC» rated. Therefore, this housing is approved and made to be sealed so aas not to allow air to escape through it into your ceiling or attic AND can make direct contact with insulation as well. These housings are designed to save you money on your electrical bill by reducing your heating and air conditioning costs and will meet all Air-Tight requirements. The light output of these housings can handle varies so each housing has it individually listed.

Air-Tight & Non «IC» Rated Housing. This means that any housing with the «Air-Tight» rating is approved and made to be sealed so as not to allow air to escape through into your ceiling or attic. These housings can NOT make contact with insulation. These housings help compensate for not having insulation in your ceiling and reduce your heating and air conditioning costs and meet all Air-Tight requirements. The light output that these housings can handle varies and are posted on each individual housing.

New Work / New Construction Housing. This means that any housing with the «New Work or New Construction» rating is made with a frame and adjustable or fixed bar hangers. These bar hangers are attached to the frame. The bar hangers are usually adjustable and are designed to be nailed to the joists in your open ceiling application (no drywall, hence new work/new construction). Now keep in mind if you have existing drywall, you may still be able to use these type of housing if you have enough access space/crawl space to allow you to access to the joint area.

Remodel / Old Work Housing: This means that any housing with the «Remodel» rating is made without a frame and has mounting clips. These clips are attached to the «can» or the housing. These clips are designed to attach to the drywall and some other materials. Therefore, you must have existing drywall or surface to attach these housings to. You can NOT use for open ceiling applications.

12v Low Voltage Housings: 12v Low Voltage means that the housing has a transformer built in to it (unless otherwise noted that transformer is not included). This transformer (usually 50 watt maximum) steps down the voltage coming into your home, which is called High Voltage (110/120v) and coverts it to 12v low voltage. This transformer is designed to be quiet in operation and lasts for many years — sometimes for life, depending on where you purchase the housing and the warranty that the company offers. This types of recessed lighting is typically used for general lighting, task lighting or accent lighting.

120v High Voltage Housings: 120v High Voltage means that the housing has no tranformer and does not require one. It uses the same voltage coming in to your home, therefore, a transformer to step down the voltage is not required. These fixtures are not as energy-efficient as the 12v Low Voltage Housings but are still popular due to their lower cost (generally speaking) and weigh less.

Retro-Fit Kits: Retro-fit kits are available for when you have an existing housing installed and wish to use an energy-efficient system such as LED without destroying your ceiling or removing the existing housing. These can be found in multiple sizes such as: 4″ retro-fit or 6″ retro-fit kits.

Common Recessed Lighting Questions:

What if I have a trim I like and want to find a compatible housing. What should I do?

One each of the housing product pages, there is a tab labelled «Trims» that contains all the compatible trims for that housing. If you cannot find or do not remember the model of housing you have, you can also search for trims by the size in the recessed lighting trims section, however, we can not guarantee that the trim will work with your housing if you have not purchased the recessed housing from Affordable Quality Lighting. If you are not sure, give us a call or email us at to ask us if the housing and trim is compatible.

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