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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am trying to redo my bonus room as a theater and will be starting construction this weekend.

But I am quite confused with the offerings for smaller can lights. I am building a new soffit and I would like some smaller can lights. But confusingly the old construction kits in 4" and especially 3" are much cheaper than the cost of a new work housing + trim.

Is there any good reason to go with the new construction housings? Note the cost for the new construction looks to be 3x for the 3" lights!
Thanks!
Salem
 

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I am not sure about this. One thing that comes to mind is that the old construction ones have a warning to not have the cans close to insulation or they will overheat. Maybe the new construction ones are built so that they can be placed close to insulation. Again, just guessing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I am not sure about this. One thing that comes to mind is that the old construction ones have a warning to not have the cans close to insulation or they will overheat. Maybe the new construction ones are built so that they can be placed close to insulation. Again, just guessing.

From what I have seen they both insulation contact and non-IC rated old work housings. The IC rated are a little more pricey but still nowhere near the cost of the old work housings + trim. The larger lights however are cheaper in the new work kits.
Salem
 

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Recessed lighting is something I’ve put a lot of thought and research into (strange as that might seem), and I’ve installed recessed lighting in quite a few rooms in our previous home and the one we’re currently in.

To start, I’d recommend passing on the 3” cans in general. IMO, the main benefit of recessed lighting – if done right – is that it gives a soft light that makes a room warm and inviting. This effect is best accomplished when glare from the light source is minimized as much as possible, and the best way to minimize the glare is to use deep cans that significantly recess the bulb above ceiling level.

The most common recessed-lighting bulbs come in three sizes – Par 40 (large), Par 30 (medium) and Par 20 (small). Recessed cans are sized for these bulbs - 5”, 4” and 3” respectively. The thing to keep in mind with these three bulbs is that they all have the element in the same location, just below the base. As such, the element in a Par 40 is much higher in the bulb than a Par 20.

So if you use a 3” can with a Par 20 bulb, the bulb – and its element - is essentially flush with the ceiling, which gives you a light with lots of glare. There’s really not much point in recessed lighting like that, IMO. From a soft-lighting perspective, you may just as well have used a regular surface-mounted fixture.

As another example of what not to do - if you watch any of those home improvement shows, you’ve seen that so-called “pot lights” are all the rage. These little lights admittedly look cool, but they totally flunk the “glare test.” Again, you may just as well have used a regular surface-mounted fixture as those things.

While deep recessed cans are common for commercial applications, they seem to be hard to find for residential – at least that’s what I’ve seen at the big-box hardware stores. So the best option for getting glare-free lighting is using a smaller bulb with a larger can. For instance, a Par 30 bulb with a 5” can, or a Par 20 with a 4” can.

Again, I see no good reason to use a 3” can/Par 20 combo in most situations. You don’t get a glare-free light with them, and the cans are more expensive to boot, especially the trim rings. I’ve never been able to figure out why they cost more than the larger cans.

People seem to shy away from the larger cans, thinking they won’t look good, especially a smaller room with lower ceilings. However, I’ve used 5” cans in smaller rooms with 8” ceilings before and thought they looked fine.

Something else to keep in mind is that the larger the can, the more options you have with bulb brightness. You can’t get the small Par 20 bulbs in anything brighter than 45-50 watts, and Par 30s seem to top out at 65-75 watts. Meanwhile, I’ve seen Par 40s as high as 120 watts. If you have to use six or eight 3” cans in a room to get the desired illumination, will that ultimately look better than four 5” cans? Not to mention what all those 3” cans will cost you.

For some other practical matters, use only air-tight cans. I installed regular cans in our previous house and got a notable increase in household dust. Also, many cans have an adjustable socket-mounting plate. Push the plate as high into the can as it will go, to help get the bulb as high as possible.

For placement, about 3 ft. is a good distance out from the walls, and 5-7 ft. between the cans themselves.

Another nice thing about recessed lighting is that you can choose different bulb types depending on the “look” you want, or the ceiling height. The regular incandescent bulbs come on flood and spot varieties. You might choose the former if you want more lighting dispersed to the side walls, for example, or the latter if you want the light more concentrated towards the floor. Above our kitchen sink I used a halogen spot bulb, to concentrate the light directly and brightly to the sink, where it’s needed, and not waste any light dispersed horizontally, where it’s not needed. For higher ceilings, halogen spot or flood bulbs will direct the lighting to the floor better than incandescent bulbs will.

Another practical recommendation, don’t use those fluorescent recessed bulbs. They’re a total joke. The internal tubes extend right out to the edge of the bulb’s flat bottom – IOW, glare-city. May was well just use a surface-mounted fixture. If you want to use a fluorescent bulb in a recessed fixture, just use the cheaper regular ones. You don’t get any added glare-reduction by sticking the tubes in a conical-shaped chamber.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response :).

Here is my lighting plan:


The room has a sloped ceiling on two sides (left and right in the image). So the soffit is only in the corner of the room on two sides. The small can lights I was going to use either eyeball sockets or gimbals so I could point them toward the walls. I am not relying on the small lights to light up the room, just to add some accents. This may reduce some of the glare.

I also have limited space above the light positions on my screen wall (the left side of the image) due to a very gradual sloped ceiling. I may be able to fit the 6" "short" cans there but that gets back to the glare thing right?

I am also concerned that I may not have enough light in the center of the room with this setup. But there is currently a fan in the center of the room and it has a light on it. My projector will be low enough that I don't have to take down the fan so I may leave the center light up as well. On the other hand the room has 9.5' ceilings so I may be ok. I guess I will just have to try it out before putting up the sheet rock on the soffits.

Thanks again for your advice! And happy Easter!
Salem
 

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Ah, you’re doing accent lighting, not room lighting, so nothing I wrote applies to you. :(

I am also concerned that I may not have enough light in the center of the room with this setup. But there is currently a fan in the center of the room and it has a light on it.
That’s an easy fix: Brighter bulbs, and/or a different fixture with more bulbs.

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am trying to do a couple things with this room. On one wall I have a tv and I do not want direct light on it when it is on. But I do want light on the opposite wall for seating. 90 degrees from the TV I am setting up a projection screen. When watching movies I only want very low light at the seating location opposite the screen. This leaves me with a bunch of zones :). I already ordered a 6 zone grafik eye!
Salem
 

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I am trying to do a couple things with this room. On one wall I have a tv and I do not want direct light on it when it is on. But I do want light on the opposite wall for seating. 90 degrees from the TV I am setting up a projection screen. When watching movies I only want very low light at the seating location opposite the screen. This leaves me with a bunch of zones :). I already ordered a 6 zone grafik eye!
Salem
Congrats mate! If you need any help getting it set up, give me a holler. I did not wire mine to the panel (one of the few things that makes me nervous), but I set everything else up so I should hopefully remember enough to help out. ;)
 
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