What Size Recessed Lighting Do You Need?

Recessed lighting is a great way to illuminate a space in a streamline and contemporary way. There are various types of recessed lighting options, as well as various sizes. 

Here we will cover the most common questions about recessed lighting so help you understand what size recessed lighting is best for your home.

What is Recessed Lighting?

What is Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is a type of lighting used to illuminate a space without requiring a light fitting. Most commonly recessed lighting is seen on ceilings of interior rooms. It also goes by the name of ‘downlighting’ because it typically directs light in a downward direction. It consists of small holes in the ceiling, inside which a recessed light is installed.

The result is a non-intrusive source of lighting which sits almost flush against the level of the ceiling. The fact that a light shade or pendant isn’t used means that the result of recessed lighting looks slick and modern. It means that the ceiling line isn’t interrupted, so the eyeline can be extended to create the illusion of more space.

Recessed lighting is great for a minimalist style interior because the fixtures go almost unnoticed. They are also ideal for rooms with low ceilings, where a traditional light fitting or pendant would interfere with head height.

Recessed Lighting Sizes

4 to 5 inch

Recessed light fittings measuring 4 or 5 inches in diameter are the smallest types of fittings you will typically find used in residential settings. The smaller nature of these fittings means that they are particularly useful in more compact spaces. One area where these are commonly used is on the underside of wall cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom, to cast a downward glow onto countertops.

They are also used inside closet spaces to illuminate the contents stored inside. This size of recessed lighting is usually considered most appropriate for bathrooms, so that the size of the fittings don’t appear out of proportion with the rest of the space.

6 inch

The 6 inch diameter recessed light fitting is the most common size chosen for kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms in homes. It is medium in size, which makes it a good compromise between appearing too big or too small. It provides a good level of light which is neither too dim or overpowering.

7 to 8 inch

Recessed light fittings which measure 7 or 8 inches across are the largest size you will typically find used in an interior domestic setting. These oversized lights create a strong level of illumination, and they can work well in small spaces if you would prefer to have a singular recessed light instead of a group of lights.

For example, in a bathroom you could opt for an individual 8 inch recessed light as an alternative to installing two or three of the smaller recessed lights.

Types of Recessed Lighting

Eyeball Trim

This type of recessed lighting has the bulb installed inside the socket, onto an adjustable fitting which means you can angle the light bulb in any direction you like. These types of recessed lighting are ideal for scenarios where you need targeted lighting, for example in a kitchen where you might want the recessed light angled over the countertop for better vision while chopping vegetables.

Open Trim

This type of trim results in a very sleek look which is popular in modern style interiors. The lightbulb sits flush with the recessed fitting so that none of the internal parts can be seen, and the fitting itself is installed flat against the ceiling for a smooth finish.

Baffle Trim

This type of recessed lighting features a ribbed surface inside the socket, which is finished in black. This means that when the lights are switched on, the glare of the lightbulb is reduced for a more subtle effect. Baffle trim is among the most popular type of recessed lighting because it is comfortable to be around, while still providing adequate illumination.

Shower Trim

This type of recessed lighting is specifically designed to be used in bathrooms, or any room where there is additional moisture or risk of the ceiling getting splashed by water. Shower trim fittings also go by the name of ‘lensed’ recessed lights. These fittings have tempered glass installed right across the front of the bulb, protecting the inner electrical components from contact with water.

Reflector Trim

Reflector Trim

This style of recessed light fitting is ideal for scenarios where you need extra strong or bright illumination. Inside the socket where the light bulb is installed, the fitting is lined with a reflective surface. This works to reflect light produced by the lightbulb, amplifying the amount of light created overall. This type of light might be of particular use in a dressing area, or an office.

Recessed Lighting Considerations

Deciding what size recessed lighting you need is more complex than simple choosing which size you like the look of. Think about the following considerations before making your decision.

Type of Light

The level of light you require in a room is going to be a deciding factor when considering what size recessed lighting you should choose. Think about the type of tasks you will be completing in a room, and how you will use the space. For example, if you apply make-up in a dressing room then you will need a good level of light, which could be achieved by using larger fittings and a reflective trim.

Type of Atmosphere

Lighting plays a vital role in creating atmosphere in rooms, defining the mood and the ambience. In a bedroom or snug, lower light might be more appropriate. In this instance, opt for recessed lighting which will work with dimmer bulbs, or choose smaller fittings to give a softer and more subtle glow.

For a work space such as a home office, bolder lighting will spark an atmosphere more conducive to creativity and productivity, so larger recessed light fittings with eyeball trim that can angle light directly to the desk area could work well.