Article
The beauty of recessed can downlights is their seeming sleekness. They barely interrupt the ceiling plane, which can be an especially big bonus in homes with lower ceiling heights and in clean-lined contemporary room plans.

Downlights Go on a Diet with LED Technology

Chuck Ross
The beauty of recessed can downlights is their seeming sleekness. They barely interrupt the ceiling plane, which can be an especially big bonus in homes with lower ceiling heights and in clean-lined contemporary room plans. Historically, though, the design of these popular fixtures has been anything but clean-lined when considering the above-the-ceiling cannisters into account. The switch to LEDs, though, has minimized the need for ceiling-plenum clearances, opening the door to products that are easy to install and replace, with profiles that might be slightly more than an inch deep – barely more than the drywall ceilings into which they’re installed.

While recessed cans have become synonymous with modern design, they’ve actually been around since at least the 1940s. That’s when commercial office planners began incorporating them over workstations. They moved into homes in the late 1960s and 70s, when they even helped illuminate the classic split-level ranch featured in “The Brady Bunch.“ Those early models, though, usually housing halogen lamps needed plenty of plenum space – and at least a 3 in. clearance from any surrounding insulation to ensure the significant heat they generated didn’t start a fire.

In LEDs’ early days, some folks just opted to switch out energy-intensive halogen lamps with LED replacements. But manufacturers have since developed full lineups of integrated fixtures that incorporate LED light sources directly into the fixture body. These products  have both eased installation and minimized clearance requirements, while providing lighting that’s both more efficient and easier to control.

Where cans are already in place, retrofit fixtures feature electrical connectors styled to simply screw into the old lamp outlets. For new construction or renovation projects, ultra-thin disc-shaped fixtures pop into ceiling holes and are held in place with spring-activated clips, so no joist attachment is required. And almost all of these products are IC rated, meaning they pose no fire danger, and some are even airtight, so they won’t let cooler attic air seep into occupied spaces.  As another plus with these fixtures, the LED light sources are filtered through engineered lenses to eliminate the glare that the bare lamps in old-school downlights could sometimes cause.
Photo courtesy of Halco Lighting
Voltec Power & Lighting
advertisement
IWL LED Series Luminaires
advertisement
Newsletter Signup