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Mai Pham
December 6, 2023

Can lights and recessed lights are both popular lighting options for homes and commercial spaces. While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between them that you should be aware of before choosing one for your space. In this guide, we will explain what can lights and recessed lights are, their differences, and how to decide which one is the best fit for your lighting needs.

What is the Difference Between Can Lights and Recessed Lights?

Can lights typically have a round or square shape and sit flush with the ceiling. Unlike can lights, recessed lights come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and even decorative styles, including round, square, rectangular, and more.

What are Can Lights?

When Should You Not Use Recessed Lighting?

Can lights, also known as recessed can lights or pot lights, are light fixtures that are installed into hollow openings in the ceiling. They typically have a round or square shape and sit flush with the ceiling.

The main components of a can light include a housing, trim, and light bulb. The housing holds the electrical components of the light, while the trim is the visible part that can be customized with different finishes and shapes. Can lights are typically installed in a series to provide general lighting for a room.

What are Recessed Lights?

Recessed lights, also known as recessed fixtures or downlights, are similar to can lights in that they are installed into the ceiling and provide general lighting for a space. However, recessed lights have a wider range of sizes and shapes, including round, square, rectangular, and even decorative options.

Unlike can lights, recessed lights do not sit flush with the ceiling and instead have a slight gap between the fixture and the ceiling. This allows for better ventilation and helps to dissipate heat from the light bulb.

Differences Between Can Lights and Recessed Lights

While can lights and recessed lights may seem similar, there are a few key differences that set them apart. These differences include:

  • Installation: Can lights require a hollow opening in the ceiling, while recessed lights can be installed into any type of ceiling, including concrete and suspended ceilings.
  • Size and shape: As mentioned before, recessed lights offer more options when it comes to size and shape compared to the more standardized can lights.
  • Ventilation: Due to their flush installation, can lights do not provide as much ventilation as recessed lights. This means that can lights may get hotter and have a shorter lifespan compared to recessed lights.
  • Trim options: Can lights typically have a more limited selection of trim options compared to recessed lights, which come in a variety of finishes and designs.

How to Decide Between Can Lights and Recessed Lights

Now that you know the differences between can lights and recessed lights, how do you decide which one is right for your space? Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Ceiling type: If you have a suspended or concrete ceiling, recessed lights may be the better option for you. Can lights require a hollow opening in the ceiling, which may not be possible with these types of ceilings.
  • Functionality: If you need general lighting for a room, both can lights and recessed lights can provide that. However, if you want to highlight specific areas or objects, recessed lights may be a better option as they offer more directional lighting.
  • Aesthetics: Can lights are more discreet since they sit flush with the ceiling. If you prefer a cleaner look, then can lights may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you want to add a decorative touch to your lighting, recessed lights offer more variety in terms of trim options.
  • Budget: Can lights are typically less expensive than recessed lights. If you have a tight budget, can lights may be the better choice for you.

Conclusion

In summary, while can lights and recessed lights may seem similar on the surface, they have distinct differences that can impact your lighting choices. Consider factors such as installation, size and shape options, ventilation, trim choices, ceiling type, functionality, aesthetics, and budget when deciding between the two. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences for lighting in your space. So make sure to carefully evaluate these factors before making a

About the Author

I am a working mother who more than often prefer to come home and rest rather than doing house chores. I am passionate about simplifying house chores to live and enjoy life more.

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