How To Be Energy Efficient With Recessed Downlights

recessed downlights in ceiling

The use of recessed down lights, also known as “cans,” is normally seen to be a good way of saving energy, especially in small commercial and residential buildings.

Most of the buildings which were constructed in the last thirty years are filled with downlights. These are most common in hotel and office lobbies, reception counters, and all types of building entryways. Downlights are commonly found in residential homes. In some kitchens, it is uncommon to have 5 to 10 recessed cans, or even more depending on the design and size of the room. These kind of lights are normally β€œon” for many hours a day.

The popular bulb of choice for these particular fixtures is R or in other case BR shaped incandescent reflector floods. These should not be confused with some more precise halogen PAR bulbs. This kind of incandescent bulb is known to be inexpensive but energy inefficient compared to the alternatives currently available on the market. With a large number of cans, the opportunities for saving money and being more efficient also grow.

Although LEDs are pitched as the ultimate solution to the inefficiency problem, you have to know that this is a different case because CFLs can be very competitive with the LED alternatives. The CFL reflector floods can cost 5 to 7 times less than that of LEDs.

The CFLs are normally rated at 8,000 – 10,000 hours while the LEDs normally range from 25,000 – 35,000 hours. If dimming is a necessity, then it should be noted that the advantage to CFLs will nearly disappear simply because their cost will go up and options will be limited. Not all CFLs are dimmable and the ones that are cost significantly more than a regular compact fluorescent bulb.

Other factors may also point to LEDs as a better selection of your own situation, but in the case of basic down light application, “instant on” CFLs are pretty hard to beat. At least until prices for LED reflector floods come down closer to the level of CFL floods.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.