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Compact Fluorescent Recessed Lights

GBA Editor | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Hi,

We are looking to use 4″ recessed fluorescent cans on an upcoming residential project. Just curious if you’ve used them and if you are happy with their performance (light quality, dimming function, noise, color rendering etc.).

I know you have to specify an appropriate temp. bulb, but otherwise any pitfalls, complaints, praise…

Also, the rep has encourage us to go with the standard silver reflector, but we and the client are very uneasy about drawing more attention to the lights. You already have an unattractive bulb add to that a bright shiny reflector pockmarking a nice white ceiling…

Thanks

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Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Chris,
    In an energy-efficient house, recessed lights should never be installed in an insulated ceiling. They interrupt the air barrier and are very difficult to air seal well. Moreover, they also interrupt the insulation.

    If this is not an insulated ceiling, go ahead and poke holes in the ceiling for your lights.

  2. Chris | | #2

    Thanks Martin...
    This is an uninsulated ceiling...insulation is in the roof rafters....we will be poking away. But any specific thoughts to using fluorescent recessed cans....

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    Chris,
    The most efficient bulbs to use are reflector CFLs. Fortunately, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have tested all the available lamps and come up with a list of winners. Here they are:
    http://www.pnl.gov/rlamps/

  4. Chris | | #4

    Actually, looking at dedicated fluorescent recessed cans (3-pin, 4-pin fluorescent bulbs) rather than screw-in cfl bulbs for standard incandescent cans.

  5. Jan Juran | | #5

    Hi Chris: if you prefer to install pin based CFL recessed can lights in new construction, Energy Federation Inc. has several models which are both airtight and IC rated (insulation can safely be installed touching the fixture). Check out http://www.EFI.org click on Consumer/Shop Online/Flourescent Lighting/CFL Light Fixtures/Interior Recessed.

  6. David Meiland | | #6

    I built a home a couple of years ago with quite a few Juno 5" CFL cans. They use 26-watt 4-pin bulbs. When you flip a switch, there is a momentary pause, then the light comes on fairly dim, and it then takes 1-2 minutes to get to full brightness. Because of the momentary delay I labeled the switches in places where they are grouped, so visitors would not have to hunt for the right switch. They are dimmable, although we had to follow a spec from Juno for the dimmer, which limited the choice a bit. There is no audible hum, but due to the number of dimmers and CFLs in the house I had to tell the owner that her beloved older radio would never get clean reception.

    My opinion is that these are nice fixtures. The ON delay and the short time to full brightness would not deter me from installing them in my own house, but as Martin says I would not install them in an insulated ceiling. I was able to backdraft pretty much every one of them with the blower door, so the "AT" part of IC/AT may be an exaggeration. And of course they are not cheap...

  7. Chris | | #7

    David,
    Thanks for the info. We are looking at using a 4" from Pathway Lighting. It sounds like the newer ballasts allow for almost instant full illumination, no delay, but they still come on a little lower than full intensity. I've ordered a working sample, so we'll see how it goes...

    Did your Juno fixtures have white reflectors or specular/ silver reflectors? The lighting rep. is pushing hard for us to use silver reflectors and I understand why, but we are so accustomed to looking at nice white trims and baffles I'm worried the silver draws to much attention to thefixture when off...

  8. David Meiland | | #8

    Chris, all of the trims had solid lenses, most of them white--Juno 5101--and a few with obscure glass in shower areas. You may find with CFL bulbs that you don't want to look at them, which might be OK with something like a typical flood bulb. According to the manufacturer you get a little better air sealing with some of the lensed trims as well.

  9. Riversong | | #9

    You already have an unattractive bulb add to that a bright shiny reflector pockmarking a nice white ceiling...

    You might listen to your own aesthetic voice.

    Can lights are drastically overused, offer poor area lighting, and "pockmark a nice white ceiling".

  10. Riversong | | #10

    You already have an unattractive bulb add to that a bright shiny reflector pockmarking a nice white ceiling...

    You might listen to your own aesthetic voice.

    Can lights are drastically overused, offer poor area lighting, and "pockmark a nice white ceiling".

  11. Chris | | #11

    Thanks for the opinions...I actually don't mind a white trim/ white baffle can, but not as excited about a specular reflector...Also, not concerned with airtight units...as has been mentioned on this site numerous times they aren't really very airtight anyway...but all of these cans are going into uninsulated ceilings (insulation at rafter level)

    Also, trying to keep to a minimum # of cans, only for general illumination..using more specific task lighting as needed.

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