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How to choose the numbers and color temperatures of recessed downlights | 4 Real Examples

How to choose the numbers and color temperatures of recessed downlights | 4 Real Examples

Lighting is not just a functional necessity; it's a pivotal design element that can dramatically transform the ambiance and usability of any space. Recessed downlights, with their discreet integration into ceilings, offer a modern, streamlined look while providing versatile lighting solutions. The key to harnessing their full potential lies in selecting the appropriate number and color temperature for your specific needs.

This comprehensive guide, enriched with real-customer examples, aims to demystify this process, ensuring that every room is not only well-lit but also resonates with the desired atmosphere and functionality.

The Science of Color Temperature

The color temperature of a light bulb is a critical consideration that goes beyond mere aesthetics. It influences both the mood of a space and the psychological well-being of its occupants. Here's a deeper dive into the spectrum of color temperatures available:

How to choose the color temperature in home for 5CCT lights

1. 5CCT Warm White (2700K - 3000K)

Emits a soft, warm glow reminiscent of the setting sun. It's ideal for creating a relaxing and inviting ambiance, making it perfect for living areas, bedrooms, and hospitality settings.

2. 5CCT Neutral White (3500K - 4100K)

Strikes a balance between warm and cool light, offering clarity without being too harsh. This temperature is suitable for bathrooms, laundry rooms, and some commercial spaces.

3. 5CCT Cool White (5000K - 6500K)

Resembles daylight and is known for its energizing effects. It's excellent for task lighting, reading areas, and places requiring high visibility and concentration.
Understanding the impact of color temperature on human psychology and room functionality is crucial for making informed lighting decisions.

Calculating the Perfect Number of Downlights

Beyond color temperature, the quantity of downlights plays a significant role in achieving the desired level of brightness. This involves a blend of art and science, taking into account the room's dimensions, usage, and the individual characteristics of the downlights being used. Here's an expanded look at determining the optimal number:

1. Evaluate the Space

Start by assessing the area's size, ceiling height, and natural light availability. Larger rooms or those with higher ceilings may require more downlights or those with higher lumen outputs to adequately illuminate the space.

2. Consider the Beam Angle

The spread of light from a downlight is determined by its beam angle. Narrower beam angles focus light more directly, ideal for highlighting specific areas or for task lighting. Wider beam angles provide a more general, ambient light. Selecting the right beam angle can affect both the atmosphere and functionality of the room, as well as how many downlights are needed.

3. Factors in the Usage

The room's purpose significantly impacts lighting needs. Workspaces demand higher brightness levels for clarity and focus, whereas living areas benefit from softer, more diffuse lighting for relaxation.

Estimated Examples Revisited with Added Detail

Take 6 Inch ultra-thin recessed lighting,12W, 1050LM as an example:

 Lighting Color  5CCT-‎2700k/3000k/3500k/4000k/5000k
‎ Brightness  1050LM
 Wattage  12W
‎ Voltage  120 Volts

1. Living Room (20'x15')

Area: 300 sq ft
Desired Lux: 150 lux for a cozy ambiance
Lumens per Downlight: 1050LM

Total Lumens Needed:45,000 Lumens
Number of Downlights: 41 Packs

For a more practical setup, considering spacing and design, a revision to around 20-25 downlights might be more appropriate, with strategic placement to cover key areas effectively.

2. Kitchen (12'x12')

Area: 144 sq ft
Desired Lux: 300 lux for clear visibility in cooking areas
Lumens per Downlight: 1050 lumens

Total Lumens Needed: 43,200 Lumens
Number of Downlights: 41 Packs

Adjusting for practicality, 10-15 downlights might suffice, focusing on work areas like countertops and the sink.

3. Home Office (10'x10')

Area: 100 sq ft
Desired Lux: 500 lux for tasks requiring focus
Lumens per Downlight: 900 lumens

Total Lumens Needed: 50,000 Lumens
Number of Downlights: 47 Packs

A realistic approach might involve using 6-8 downlights, ensuring adequate coverage without overlighting the space.

4. Bathroom (8'x10')

Area: 80 sq ft
Desired Lux: 500 lux for bright, clear lighting
Lumens per Downlight: 700 lumens

Total Lumens Needed: 40,000 Lumens
Number of Downlights: 38 Packs

In practice, 5-7 downlights are usually sufficient, especially if focused around mirrors and the shower area.

One practical example

From Amico customer for his installation program suggestion

His home was built without pre-installed, hard-wired lighting in most rooms. And he upgraded the lighting in two rooms by installing these lights. They provide a nice clean look and great looking light. Here is the operating process:

1. Room Introduction

Room 1 is about 13' x 14' x 8', and has an open wall to a room with previously-installed recessed lighting. I installed 6 total lights set on 3000K. This setup provides fairly bright lighting, and a dimmer switch makes it easy to control. At full illumination, this room is observably brighter in broad daylight, with one wall consisting of a sliding glass door. At night, turning the lights down with a dimmer to about 50% provides plenty of light.

Room 2 is about 10' x 10' x 8', and is an enclosed bedroom type space. I will soon install 4 lights in this room on the warm 2700K setting; I expect this to be sufficient.

2. Installation Advice 

I measured out my hole centers and then punctured the drywall with a thumbtack. Then, I used a 6" plastic lid from a half gallon yogurt tub with a thumb tack in the center as a stencil to mark my holes. After double checking that the holes are aligned, I used a hole saw to cut around the outer edge of the line describing the position of the yogurt lid.

(That is, the hole radius was wider than the marked line by the width of the saw.) This approach yielded perfect holes with a durable stencil. For anyone that hasn't done this kind of work previously, it is dustier than I expected.

3. Considerations

Consideration 1 : 3000K on these lights is close, but not the same, as some retrofit recessed lights in an adjoined room that also list as 3000K. The 2700K on these lights much redder than the 3000K. These lights will work dangling from their connector so the light temperature switch can be checked before installing the light and hiding the j box.

Consideration 2 : My Leviton dimmer works with these lights, but the dimmer must rise above a certain threshold (about 60%) before the lights will come on from being off. This is mildly annoying.

Consideration 3 : While it is possible to remove the light once it is in the ceiling, it is clear that these lights are not intended to be easily removed. I learned this while working out the proper hole size for the light.

Consideration 4 : These do not come with bushings to protect wires from the metal edges of the jboxes. Order some to protect your wires! Amazon sells inexpensive plastic ones that are 1/2" in diameter.

Wrapping Up: A Tailored Lighting Solution

Crafting the perfect lighting scheme with recessed downlights requires a thoughtful blend of technical knowledge and creative vision. By considering color temperature and calculating the ideal number of downlights based on a room's specific needs, you can elevate any space from ordinary to extraordinary. Remember, the goal is not just to light up a room but to enhance its beauty, functionality, and ambiance, creating a space that's both inviting and practical.

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