What Is Canned Lighting: Brilliant Illumination for Modern Spaces

What Is Canned Lighting?

Canned lighting, also known as recessed lights, are cylindrical, metal housings that are installed in a ceiling opening.

They are nearly flush with the ceiling and don’t take up visual space.

Canned lighting is versatile and can have different trim styles.

They can shine straight down or off to one side.

There are standard recessed lights for new construction and “remodel” fixtures for existing ceilings.

It’s important to choose IC-rated or AT-rated can lights for insulated ceilings to avoid energy waste and the risk of fire.

Key Points:

  • Canned lighting is a type of recessed lighting installed in a ceiling opening
  • They are almost flush with the ceiling and do not take up visual space
  • Canned lighting can come in different trim styles
  • They have the ability to shine straight down or off to one side
  • There are standard recessed lights for new construction and “remodel” fixtures for existing ceilings
  • It is important to choose IC-rated or AT-rated can lights for insulated ceilings to prevent energy waste and fire hazards.

Did You Know?

1. What Is Canned Lighting trivia: Canned lighting, also known as recessed lighting, was first introduced in the 1940s as a practical way to illuminate small spaces without taking up valuable ceiling space.
2. Did you know that canned lighting was initially developed for use in submarines during World War II? Its compact design allowed for optimal lighting in tight quarters, making it easier for sailors to perform tasks.
3. Canned lighting fixtures are typically airtight, which helps reduce energy loss through the ceiling. This feature not only provides better energy efficiency but also minimizes heat transfer, resulting in lower cooling costs.
4. There is a wide range of trim options available for canned lighting, allowing for different effects and styles. From adjustable and directional trims to decorative options like beveled or baffled trims, there is something to suit every design preference.
5. Canned lighting can be an excellent tool to enhance interior design. By strategically placing fixtures and carefully selecting the type of trim and bulb, you can create distinctive lighting effects, highlight architectural features, or even make a room appear larger and more spacious.

Definition And Installation Of Canned Lighting

Canned lighting, also known as recessed lights or can lights, is a type of lighting fixture that is installed in an opening in the ceiling. These lights are designed to be nearly flush with the ceiling, providing a sleek and unobtrusive lighting solution. The term “canned lighting” comes from the cylindrical, metal housing that surrounds the light bulb.

Installation of can lights varies depending on the type of construction. Standard recessed lights are typically installed during the construction phase of a building. On the other hand, “remodel” fixtures are specifically designed for existing ceilings and can be installed without the need for major modifications.

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One important consideration when installing can lights is whether the housing is IC-rated (Insulation Contact) or AT-rated (Airtight). IC-rated housing means that these lights can be covered with insulation without the risk of causing a fire hazard. This is particularly important for ceilings with insulation. AT-rated housing, on the other hand, ensures that the fixture is airtight, minimizing any air leakage between the fixture and the ceiling. It is crucial to use IC- or AT-rated can lights when installing in insulated ceilings to maintain both safety and energy efficiency.

  • Canned lighting, also known as recessed lights or can lights, provides a sleek and unobtrusive lighting solution.
  • Standard recessed lights are installed during the construction phase, while remodel fixtures are designed for existing ceilings.
  • One important consideration is whether the housing is IC-rated (Insulation Contact) or AT-rated (Airtight).
  • IC-rated housing allows for insulation coverage without fire hazards. AT-rated housing ensures airtightness, reducing air leakage between the fixture and the ceiling.

Characteristics And Design Of Can Lights

The characteristic feature of can lights is their nearly flush installation, which allows them to blend seamlessly into the ceiling without taking up visual space in the room. This design creates a clean and modern aesthetic, making can lights popular choices for a variety of spaces, from residential homes to commercial buildings.

Can lights come in a myriad of designs and sizes, primarily distinguished by their trim styles. The trim refers to the visible surface of the light fixture and can be customized to match the overall interior design of the room. Some common trim styles include baffle, reflector, and adjustable trims.

  • Baffle trims have ridges that reduce glare and direct the light downward.
  • Reflector trims maximize the light spread by reflecting it off a metallic surface, providing more diffuse illumination.
  • Adjustable trims allow for flexibility in directing the light beam to a specific area in the room.

Versatility And Customization Of Can Lights

One of the great advantages of can lights is their versatility. They can be used in a wide range of applications and are suitable for various ceiling heights. Whether you have low or high ceilings, can lights can be customized to provide the desired level of illumination and visual impact.

Can lights also offer flexibility in terms of the type of lighting effect you want to achieve. They can be installed as single fixtures or in a series to create a dramatic lighting effect. Additionally, adjustable can lights allow you to focus the beam of light on specific objects or areas, making them perfect for highlighting artwork, architectural features, or creating different ambiances in a room.

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Furthermore, can lights can be utilized in both residential and commercial spaces. While they are commonly used in living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms in homes, they are also found in offices, retail stores, and galleries. Their versatility and customizable features make them an ideal choice for various lighting needs.

  • Can lights are versatile and suitable for different ceiling heights.
  • They can create a dramatic lighting effect when installed in a series.
  • Adjustability allows for highlighting specific objects or areas.
  • Can lights are commonly used in homes, offices, retail stores, and galleries.

Directional Options And Considerations For Can Lights

Can lights offer directional options, allowing you to control the direction of the light beam. The primary direction of light from can lights is straight down, providing general illumination for a room. However, some can lights are adjustable, allowing the light to be directed off to one side. This feature is particularly useful when you want to spotlight specific objects or areas.

When considering installing can lights, it is essential to evaluate the specific lighting needs of the room. Consider factors such as the room’s layout, furniture placement, and the intended functionality of the space. With this information, you can determine the optimal placement and direction of can lights to achieve the desired lighting effect.

Safety And Energy Efficiency Of Can Lights

While can lights offer a range of lighting possibilities, safety and energy efficiency should be kept in mind. Older can lights, especially those without proper insulation, can be energy-wasters, leading to unnecessary heat loss or gain in well-insulated ceilings. This can result in increased energy consumption and higher utility bills.

To ensure safety and energy efficiency, it is recommended to use IC- or AT-rated can lights when installing in insulated ceilings. IC-rated housing allows the fixture to be covered with insulation without risking fire hazards, while AT-rated housing ensures an airtight seal, preventing air leakage and maximizing energy efficiency.

To summarize:

  • Can lights offer versatile lighting solutions.
  • Safety and energy efficiency considerations are crucial.
  • Older can lights without proper insulation can lead to energy waste.
  • IC- or AT-rated can lights should be used in insulated ceilings for safety and efficiency.

With their sleek design and numerous benefits, can lights continue to be a popular choice for homeowners and professionals seeking effective and aesthetically pleasing lighting options.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a canned light?

A canned light, also referred to as a recessed light or can light, is a modern lighting fixture that is installed into the ceiling or wall. Unlike traditional light fixtures that protrude from the surface, canned lights sit flush with the surrounding area for a clean and polished look. These lights are designed to conceal their housing and electrical wiring components, which results in the bulb appearing to emit light from within the opening. The discreet and sleek nature of canned lights makes them a popular choice for contemporary interior designs.

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What is the difference between a can light and a recessed light?

While can lights are typically adjustable and can be rotated or angled to direct light in different directions, recessed lights are fixed in place and provide a focused downward light. Installation: Can lights are easier to install, as they can be mounted in a variety of surfaces, including ceilings, walls, and even furniture. Recessed lights require a more extensive installation process as they need to be recessed into the surface, requiring cutting into the ceiling or wall. In summary, the main difference between a can light and a recessed light is that can lights are more versatile in directing light while recessed lights provide a fixed downward light and require a more involved installation process.

What are the benefits of canned lighting?

One of the benefits of canned lighting is its ability to enhance the aesthetics of a room by providing a clean and streamlined look. By fitting flush with the ceiling, it creates a sleek appearance that can elevate the overall design of the space. Additionally, canned lighting can effectively increase the amount of light in a room, making it brighter and more inviting. This not only contributes to better visibility but also creates a more pleasant and comfortable atmosphere for various activities.

Another advantage of canned lighting is its versatility in highlighting specific features or objects in a room. Whether it’s a piece of artwork, a decorative element, or architectural details, recessed lighting can be strategically placed to accentuate these elements and draw attention to them. By doing so, it adds a layer of visual interest and depth to the space. Furthermore, by opening up the room visually, canned lighting can create an illusion of a larger and more expansive area, making it feel more spacious and airy. This can be particularly beneficial in smaller rooms or areas where maximizing space is important.

Why are they called can lights?

Can lights are colloquially known as such because of their distinctive housings that resemble cylindrical cans. These housing units, made of metal, closely resemble empty cans and are designed to be inserted into openings in the ceiling. The resemblance to a light bulb being placed into an empty can is what gave rise to the name “can lights” for these recessed lights.

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