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4" or 6" Recessed Lighting, 9 & 10 Ft. Ceilings

T
last year

We have 10 foot ceilings on our first floor and 9 floor on our second. Is 4" more in style these days? Please help!

Comments (49)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    last year

    Forget "style". Both will work fine. Ask your builder for the cost difference and make a decision.

  • tatts
    last year

    The difference isn't in the size of the fixture but in the bulbs you put in them--flood or spot, color temperature, lumens. You can make the choices in each.

    And do what Virgil said.

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  • sprink1es
    last year

    Isn't 6" cheaper since it's such a common fixture/bulb?

    I have 9' ceilings and did 6" pretty much everywhere, except in a few niches/corners I have some 4" cans just to eliminate any shadowing. Can always use dimmers - I'm doing a Lutron system so if anything is too bring, the standard "scene" setting can be partially dimmed whenever I turn it on

  • PRO
    Flo Mangan
    last year
    4” is more popular in new builds. LEDs provide more bright light. If u don’t like that type light, discuss options with a local lighting expert and get help doing a good overall lighting plan. Layered lighting creates better lighting for all activity in each space. Builders tend to do as few recessed lights as possible. Make sure you layout plans for where furniture will sit so you can plan for floor plugs so you can have less harsh light than that which comes from recessed lighting. Builders also put the number and location of outlets where code requires. Always good to add during planning. Much less expensive than after sheetrock goes up.
  • Sam Goh
    last year

    4" is more current I think. My builder had a cow when I asked to swap to 6" cans, but I wanted bright BR40s all over.

  • David Cary
    last year

    4 inches aren't expensive anymore. I have them on 10 and 9 foot ceilings. A bit harder for everyone involved to get looking perfect it seems. The trim overlap is less.

  • T
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Thank you for the responses! Do 6" allow LED? If we choose 4", will we have to put more in overall? I'm meeting with the electrician in the next week or two so I want to think about all my options before.

  • dan1888
    last year
    last modified: last year

    5" are available in recessed cans as well(Amazon) that will accept A19 15w leds putting out 1600 lumens flood in 3000k warm light. A19 looks like a traditional bulb. Costco has 4 dimmable bulbs for around $6 from Feit with 15000 hour life ratings. 4" options I see have less lumens so more fixtures will be needed.

  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Best thing to do is discuss that with your electrician. It all depends on the amount of light you want from this lights and that will determine the spacing of the lights.

    Usually the general rule is divide the ceiling height by 2 and that should be the space between the lights. Next you have to determine the room ambiance you want to create. do you want to have a soft light, light the place up, or put enough lights that you need sun glasses and you can get a "tan" as you walk into the room... Seen all kinds of scenarios, there for, and as I said before talk to your electrician and do the layout per room.

    On the general note:

    6" cans you will need less lights and use larger spacing...4" cans you will need more lights and lesser spacing to pretty much achieve the same results.

    In addition the recessed light trim also makes a difference and that what you paying for, the lights cans are cheap, the trim is where the cost is.

    Good luck

  • Christine Hatt-Pyne
    last year
    I’m married to an electrician who loves pot lights so I’ve learned three things:
    - dimmers
    - switching options (1 switch for all the pot lights in a room is a disaster)
    - swivelling fixtures so you can direct them towards the wall for a piece of art, away from tv and into a room or straight down to light a pathway. Depending on room configuration it is nice to have options later.

    With pot lights the most important thing you will invest in is dimmers and switching options. That will allow you flexibility depending on room and time of day. In my family room at night I like them at 50% with only 1/2 of them on but in the kitchen at 100%. Living room depending on time of day may be 100% or 25%.

    Obviously budgets are a consideration but I would consider these as much as size of lights before meeting with the Electrician. Here is an example bank of the types of dimmers you can consider. Left side is a scene dinner - basically each step equates to an increase of 25% in lighting brightness. The middle is for the ceiling fan and left and right allows to adjust fan speed and light and far right is a switch with a slider on the right hand side. This allows to preset your level of brightness and switch on and off easily but allows flexibility when needed.

    My husband also tells friends when building a house to make sure they put the lights in the stairway by the railings that they will need at Christmas time for garlands and decorations. That is usually one of the first things he gets called back to houses for.
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    last year

    Allof this depends on the bulbs you use . IMO 6” cans are old school and a lot of electricians have hundreds in their garage so that is why they reccomment them. LEDs have a much better light and the spacing is very little differen than it used to be with incandescent. Get daylight bulbs in 3500- 5000K range so that your colors look the same at night as in the daytime for sure.If you want the abiance of less bright lighting at night put everything on a dimmer not less K.

  • RES, architect
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Its not as simple as 4 or 6 inch cans.

    The first decision is whether you want LED or incandescent. That will make a small difference in the fixture cost and a big difference in your electric bill and lamp replacement costs. LED lighting requires drivers which are kind of like the transformers in low-voltage fixtures. An integral LED fixture has the driver built-in and it will last a very long time but you then you must replace the internal driver. If you buy an LED lamp (bulb) the driver is in the base of it so it may not last very long (especially in a recessed fixture and if you bought it at a box store). At the least, buy all lamps at an electrical supply store.

    LED light is different from incandescent light. 2700K LED is similar in warmth to incandescent but the shadows from LED are sharper and it bothers some people.

    The second decision is the nature of the light you want in different locations. You would want to light a kitchen counter differently than a living room wall so the fixtures will be different.

    A 10 ft ceiling will require a lamp (bulb) not available as an R or A type. You might need a PAR, MR, GU or the equivalent in LED.

    OK, here's my opinion on fixture size: shallow 6" recessed fixtures with R lamps (what you will get if you don't specify something) are butt-ugly and belong in a 1960's basement rec room when that was the only size made. I didn't like them then.

    There are some really great new recessed LED fixtures if you take the time to learn about them. Its a complicated subject and its difficult to find good information.

  • PRO
    The Kitchen Abode Ltd.
    last year

    These days the amount of emitted light is dictated more by the bulb not the size of the can. There are now 4" LED's that will put out 950 Lumens or more. 6" cans look dated and there is not much choice in alternative bulbs. Go with LED so you won't have to change out burnt bulbs every couple of years, especially with higher ceilings. Color temp is the next consideration, traditional soft white light is in the mid/lower 3,000 K range. If you wish a more daylight color then select 4,000 K or more. Just make sure you like that whiter daylight light, some clients find it to be a bit institutional looking.

  • Eric
    last year
    We are wrapping up our new kitchen/addition (just a few more weeks, hopefully) and we have 4-inch LEDs. They look so much better than the old school incandescent can lights, the color is warm, and they are on dimmers.
  • RES, architect
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Anything colder than 2700K is pleasant in a kitchen, bathroom or living space. People and food look awful.

    There are LED lights intended primarily for converting older incandescent fixtures; they have a lens only slightly recessed so the light source is visible from the far side of the room. Its look terrible. The original purpose of recessed lighting was to recess the light source. I have 5" Calculate recessed fixtures in my kitchen from the 80's where the bottom of the PAR lamp is 4" above the ceiling. You have to stand near the fixture and put your head back to see the lamp.

    I like the new Lightolier Lightcaster L3 LED fixtures. The aperture is closer to 3 1/2 " and there is no glare from the lens or trim. For a few hundred bucks more they can transform a space.















    Its the cut off angle, high lumen output (800) and low lens glare that makes this light unique.

  • T
    Original Author
    last year

    I can’t say thank you enough for all of this information!! Very helpful. I appreciate it and am taking everything into consideration. Eric, which bulbs did you choose for you new kitchen (4” recessed lights)?

  • dan1888
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Here's an example of a fixture using a led without a can. These are 4" but wider with the trim. They include a 3000k bulb and are dimmable at $10.75ea from Costco online.. Link here. 650 lumens. I'd find more for higher ceilings.





  • RES, architect
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Dan's fixtures appear to be integral LED fixtures without a bulb.

    Go see 3000K color temperature LED lighting before buying them. Buy a bulb and try it in your home.

    The Costco LED light doesn't appear to be rated for insulation contact nor is it air-sealed which is required by code for the top story of a house with a cold attic. That would be the case for all recessed fixtures in a one story house with roof trusses.

  • dan1888
    last year

    The led light source has a 50,000 hour rated life. 3000k lights installed in my home are warm not blue white.

  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    last year

    We used 4 inch LED's in our new build, 6 for kitchen area, 7 for office loft & mudroom & 4 in the mudroom, a 5 in for the walkin pantry, 2 10 inch for the laundry room & 6 exterior ... we used the shallow ones as we have a T&G ceiling .

    [houzz=https://www.houzz.com/photos/new-build-gabe-phvw-vp~135362233]

  • Eric
    last year
    J,

    I am sorry to say, that I let the GC and electrician choose. I just told them I wanted them to be dimmable and warm colored. They did the rest. The pendants over the island on the other hand we picked out.
  • wdccruise
    last year
    last modified: last year

    In another houzz thread, a writer said that he purchased several 4" recessed LEDs, connected them and judged them for glare. He found that Juno 4" LEDs performed the best. Examples: 4RLA, 4RLD. (They're available in several configurations at electricbargainstores.com and elsewhere.)

  • RES, architect
    last year
    last modified: last year

    LED light bulbs and plastic retrofit kits (like the Juno fixture referenced above) are designed to upgrade existing recessed lights to LED and are very popular at Home Depot and online stores. Electricians like them, I suppose, because they can use them in easily available incandescent housings and/or trims. But like anything cobbled together to solve a problem you don't have, they have some disadvantages.

    LED lights require a driver/power supply unit to convert line voltage to low voltage and regulate the power supply. LED recessed fixtures for new construction are designed to function as a whole with a metal housing, driver/power supply, large heat sink and a LED module with a glass lens.

    The driver/power supplying an LED light converts 60% of its power into heat so when its put inside a recessed housing and it is not designed to dissipate heat efficiently (i.e. small poorly insulated driver/power supply and little or no heat sink} the driver/power supply can fail long before the LED's.

    But if premature failure is not a concern, some of these kits are only available in a 3000K color temperature which makes people and food look bad and the plastic lens is not recessed sufficiently to avoid a harsh glare from what should have been a more hidden light source.

    As I mentioned earlier, the "no-housing" retrofit kits require an incandescent type metal housing to be used in the ceiling of a one story house or the 2nd story of a 2 story house and electricians put the retrofit bulbs in them without any way of knowing if they might overheat the fixture and cause it to flicker or cycle on and off.

    I realize this subject is complicated and possibly boring but if you want to take full advantage of LED lighting, don't rely on your GC or electrician to guide you and don't buy the cheapest model.

    .

  • wdccruise
    last year

    1. I'm not promoting the Juno products, but the webpages note Juno IC1-LEDT24 new-construction and IC1R-LEDT24 retrofit housings (as well as other compatible housings).

    2. The lights are available in 2700K, 3000K, and 3500K LED color temperatures.

    3. If a light fails, one can simply pull it out of its housing, unplug it, and replace it with a new one.

    4. The writer mentioned in my message stated that he had tested several 4" LED fixtures and found the Junos to have the least glare.

  • T
    Original Author
    last year

    Thank you all so much! I think I'll be going with the 4" as I prefer the look and the pictures provided above are what I'm going for in terms of appearance and performance.

  • dan1888
    last year
    last modified: last year

    "3000K color temperature which makes people and food look bad". This statement is something I strongly disagree with. Using A19 3000k bulbs as replacements, ime the color rendering of everything I see is completely acceptable and enjoyable. Sunlight at sunrise/sunset(the golden hour for photography) is 3200K Here's a link. So try the various options yourself.

  • D E
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Thank you all so much! I think I'll be going with the 4" as I prefer the look and the pictures provided above are what I'm going for in terms of appearance and performance.

    Here is my contrarian view for your input. I visited a house with the 4" recessed lights and I did not like them at all. the smaller a light is in relation to its surroundings, the more uncomfortable it is. I found those lights unsettling.

    the other thing to be aware of especially for the second floor, make sure the lights are sealed. If they have any ventilation you will be losing lots of heat in winter and cool in summer into your attic.

  • dsnine
    last year

    We have six inch cans with warm white LED bulbs on dimmers. Very happy

    with them!

  • T
    Original Author
    last year

    @dsnine do you happen to have a picture?

  • RES, architect
    last year
    last modified: last year

    No one should be noticing the recessed lights. I don't attempt to light a house with recessed lighting; its for lighting task surfaces and walls. The light source is as small as possible and as deep as possible.

    Assuming you use a color temperature and lumen output you like and locate them wisely, the visibility of the light source is the next most important feature. The light source of 6" recessed light fixtures invented in the 60's were meant to be as hidden as possible so the bulb was often about 3" above the ceiling. But as they have become popular in residences with shallow floor structures, the bulbs have become less recessed especially in the less expensive ones since it is more expensive to achieve a UL rating for deeply recessed bulbs in IC and airtight housings.

    To limit the visibility of the light source, the viewing cut-off angle of the fixture (from the vertical) should be greater than 60 degrees. As someone walks toward the fixture looking straight ahead, when the bulb becomes visible, the fixture should no longer be within a 60 degree cone of vision. In other words, the bulb is not seen unless someone looks up when close to the fixture. The way to achieve that is to narrow the aperture and raise the bulb or lens.

    In a 4" fixture the recess would need to be a about 1 1/8". In a 6" fixture it would need to be about 2" which requires a taller floor cavity so its only found in expensive commercial models. The bulb in many inexpensive 6" fixtures is almost flush with the ceiling as is the lens of many inexpensive retrofit LED fixtures.

    When invisibility of the light source is critical, I use a trim-less pin-spot. I've put them between decorative pendant lights to provide more light on a kitchen island. I once put a 6" cross-blade fixture in a pantry.

    Photos of recessed lights can be misleading because a camera records the contrast between the light and the ceiling as stronger than our eyes see it and interior photographs are usually taken with wide lenses.



  • T
    Original Author
    last year

    Trim-less pin-spot, @RES, can you explain that? Is that 6" in the picture with the trim-less? I'm sorry, I'm new to the lingo. I have an electrician I'm meeting with soon but want to be as educated as I am prior to our conversation.

  • T
    Original Author
    last year

    Those look great @dsnine! Ughhh now I'm not sure what to do! I have to think about it... so many decisions to be made I want to make sure I make the "right" one.

  • RES, architect
    last year
    last modified: last year

    The recessed fixtures in the kitchen photo are 4" diameter and the pin-spots above the island are 1 1/2" diameter (hence the name) with no plastic trim ring so they are just clean holes in the ceiling.

    In 50 years I've only specified a 6" recessed fixture in a pantry. I have some 5" commercial grade Calculite deeply recessed fixtures in my kitchen from the early 80's I have used 4" fixtures ever since they became available. My favorite ones are the new 3 1/2" diameter Lightolier Lytecaster L3 LED fixtures. I've haven't found anything that compares with them.

    You can't rely on photos; the lights appear as circles in the ceiling with an exaggerated brightness. Any good lighting store will have a showroom with samples of the different fixtures you can turn on and off and dim.

  • happypanda25
    10 months ago

    the recessed lights in your photo: RES3dsketches, what is your ceiling height?

  • RES, architect
    10 months ago

    9 ft.

  • happypanda25
    10 months ago

    Do you think 4 would be too small for 10 ft? I have a 14 x 20 rectangular room and I have two rows of four ; 8 total. Is the placement weird? I do plan on adding a pendant

  • T
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    @happypanda25 I did 4 inch recessed through my entire house (10 ft first floor and 9 ft second floor). They look amazing and not too small at all. So happy with my choice! I chose a 4000kw bulb. Happy with the results.

  • happypanda25
    10 months ago

    @T- is there a such thing as a smaller trim? Which bulb did you use? LED,

  • PRO
    The Kitchen Abode Ltd.
    10 months ago

    One can certainly dig deep into the finer technicalities of each type of light bulb/system, however for the average home owner color temp and lumen output are likely the most important considerations. Some of the newer recessed LED lights have a selectable color temp switch on the driver that let's you choose 4 different temps and many now provide 750 or even 950 lumen output. This coupled with their longevity and low power consumption makes them an excellent choice for most home applications.

  • happypanda25
    10 months ago

    GC says the 4 inch lights that he is installing, the bulb is part of the trim. He has the housing installed. Anyone know what he is talking about? i thought once he installs the housing and puts the trim i get to choose whatever bulb i want? Sorry, and appreciate all the patience.

  • PRO
    The Kitchen Abode Ltd.
    10 months ago

    If your lights are LED type then there are three different systems. The first uses a standard type can, separate trim and separate bulb. The second type uses a standard type can and an integrated bulb/trim. The third is a single integrated unit.

  • Maureen Bedford
    10 months ago

    Our house is 20 years old and had 6" pots throughout the kitchen, adjoining family room and hallway and I hated the look of the PAR bulbs and they needed changing constantly . Too expensive to change them all so we used a Hubbell retro kit that just clipped in and replaced the old bulbs with a complete trim and light kit when they first became available in LED with 4000k and made them more flush with the ceiling. After 10 years we just updated the LED's with a more subdued trim kit as we renovate the room with another quick fit kit but this time the kit is controllable via blue tooth and the colour temperature on each light (or groups) can be changed so I can vary from 5000K to 2500K if I want a more relaxed scene before bedtime. We have an iPad that stays in the room and controls our fireplace, Sonos, Ring and now our lighting. Lights can be turned off and on and dimmed using the wall switch or the app if I want to change the colour of the light and I can do it all from the couch (especially great for napping when I'm too lazy to get up and turn the lights off on the wall switch).


    They were cheap ($35) and may not last 10 years but I love the flexibility and I love grouping my lights to change a whole room at once. It's not the fanciest trim but I find it blends as well as the new pots we put in the bedroom. These ones were by Commercial Electric from Home Depot - a budget retrofit for those that don't want to rip out the old 6" or 4" cans and so easy to do yourself. Here is the link https://www.homedepot.ca/product/commercial-electric-5-inch-6-inch-bluetooth-led-recessed-downlight-trim-21-colour-options-670-lumens-dimmable/1001200601.


    We have a mix of 4" and 6" in our house. I like the 4" in the bedroom and master bath. I like the wider beam spread we get from the 6" in the kitchen. I love that these kits don't leave us stuck with one colour temperature that comes with an integrated bulb. Lots of options out there so you can change your look pretty easily.



  • happypanda25
    10 months ago

    Great timing, thanks @thekitchebabode. I had posted in a different thread asking for help since I don’t understand why the GC keeps emphasizing that 4” recessed lights will not be bright enough for my 10’ and 9’ ceilings. I just found out that he is using the picture attached below. Is this the “second” type? What are the pros and cons? And are there different bulb/trims available to purchase with higher lumens and color?

    I was given advice to use MR16 halogens for more intensity or LEDs with higher lumens to achieve overall brightness.

    Ive received advice to use MR16 halogens or LEDs with higher lumens. It appears that what he is installing for

    And if this is the reason, what should I tell him to install so that I could have the flexibility to change out the bulbs in the future.

  • T
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    My electrician installed the Halo lights with the trim/lighting already integrated. It has different settings on it so I can change the lighting temperature at any time without replacing the unit (or bulb?). Sorry, I'm not good with the technical talk but I think you would be very happy with the Halo units. They look great.

  • PRO
    The Kitchen Abode Ltd.
    10 months ago

    Dimmers for LED lights can be tricky, not all dimmers work properly. Most major light manufactures now publish a list of tested dimmers, this is your best place to start.

  • T
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    @happypanda25 I looked & my electrician used all Lutron Dimmers.

  • happypanda25
    10 months ago

    @ T R they the same ones? Could you snap a photo of the dimmers you used :)