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Flush-mounted LED lights: picking the right one

Steve Mackay | Posted in General Questions on

It has come the time to actually pick some flush mounted LED lights.   The criteria are that some of them have to be dimmable and they most definitely have to be air tight.

My electrician gave me 2 options to choose from, neither of which seem great.

First is an RP Lighting 8556WH.
https://www.rplighting.com/rpl_product/8556/

It says on the unit “Air Tight, IECC energy code compliant – Less than 2.0 CFM leakage at 1.57 psi – tested per ASTME283-4”

However when looking at the part it has a lens that can screw off.  No seal between the lens and the metal housing and inside the housing there are a bunch of holes going right through the unit.  It doesn’t appear very air tight to me.

The other is a cooper industries (eaton) SMD4 LED.

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/lighting/products/recessed_general_purpose_downlighting/led/_4_inch_led_smd4/_889786.html

This looks a lot more air tight than the first although it contains no label . On further inspection there doesn’t appear to be any seals on the lens to the frame.  There is a sponge gasket on the outside of the frame to seal to the sheetrock.

The second is much more in line with our style, it’s contemporary and has cleaner lines but I question its air tightness.

Does anybody have any good suggestions on contemporary flush mounted LEDs or experience with the ones above and leakage tests?

Steve

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Replies

  1. Eric Habegger | | #1

    I hope my response doesn't cause more confusion to you. I'll try to explain myself. My understanding is that flush mounted LEDs are preferable but not because the modules themselves are airtight, but instead because the electrical box they are mounted to can be easily air sealed. I do not have personal experience with them but that is my understanding. Also, they are low profile above the ceiling and can be mounted close to the perimeter of the ceiling without causing decreases in ceiling insulations.

    I have written about my own solutions to air leaks when I've used LED modules in CAN lights. In that situation I found it was very important to find modules that don't leak and can be sealed to the ceiling. Surface mount LEDs are a different animal and the primary sealing surface is the electrical box itself and not the LED module. I hope my solution to a different problem did not confuse you here. Electrical box sealing is a standard work around for a leaky surface mount LED.

    1. Steve Mackay | | #4

      Thanks for clarifying. It's interesting because I see a lot of surface mounted LEDs that show energy star ratings which presumably includes air leakage. Then the one I have shows an air leakage certification but in my eyes it didn't look very air tight.

      It is clear some surface mounted LEDs are supposed to be air tight and some are not. Sealing the electrical box is certainly the way to go but having an air tight light would be a good backup.

      Steve

      1. Eric Habegger | | #5

        Yep.

  2. Joel Cheely | | #2

    I installed both the SLD and SMD lights on my house. The SLDs were installed in junction boxes that were sealed with caulking to the drywall and the wire penetrations, so the sealing function of the trim was not very important. The SMDs were installed in a location that didn't require sealing. I would recommend either fixture, however the installation of the SLD was much more difficult, as there is nothing to grab onto when one is rotating the trim into place. I can't see removing them. The SMD has a much more user-friendly mounting method.

    1. C L | | #10

      I've also installed both, and agree the SLD is much more difficult to install than the SMD. No way would I want to have to do a bunch of those. The SMD is also much better looking - it is thinner than the SLD. Don't really understand why anyone uses the SLD...

  3. Charlie Sullivan | | #6

    1. I agree with Eric that the air barrier should be at or above the J-box, rather than relying on the light fixtures.

    2. The SMD4, in addition to being a design more to your taste, has higher efficacy, and the high color rendering index (CRI = 90, instead of 80) is standard rather than being an option. So it should be better all around. The light distribution might be a little narrower for better or worse, but it's hard to tell because the other one doesn't have any data on that.

  4. Michael M | | #7

    I replaced old can lights with these, like them very much:

    https://products.bulbrite.com/773106

    Available in 4" and 6" - LED Downlight with Integrated Jbox.
    Suitable for new construction and remodel installations.
    Pop in a light anywhere, no can necessary, install in 4 easy steps. See Instructions.
    Integrated trim kit.
    Edge lighting technology for more diffuse, less glary light.
    Fully dimmable.
    Energy Star qualified.
    IC Rated.

  5. C L | | #8

    Take a look at the Nicor SureFits - you may even prefer the style more - they are very thin

    CRI of 92
    CRI R9 over 52 (This is the measure of red color; 50 or above is considered good)
    Temperature (color) available in 2700, 3000, 4000 and 5000
    Dimmable
    Square or round trim, various colors
    Easy to install and easy to pop out the trim
    The only downside is the efficacy (Lumens per Watt) is 63.2, but it is difficult to find high efficacy LED's that look modern and have high CRI.
    Bonus: They can be bought for about $15, $23 if you want the square trim

    Data Sheet: http://images.salsify.com/image/upload/s--lvXdMf11--/k9ctjwfllrbrbodfgkgf
    Home Depot link: https://www.homedepot.com/p/NICOR-SureFit-9-6-Watt-Square-White-Integrated-LED-Flush-Mount-with-2700K-DLF-10-120-2K-SQ-WH/302612506

    No I don't work for them- just happy to have found this fixture.

    1. Expert Member
      Malcolm Taylor | | #9

      What an encouraging thread! It's great to see a variety of good opti0ns for something that even a few years ago was a problematic fixture with few choices.

    2. Steve Mackay | | #11

      CL thanks for the tip. I'll check them out in HomeDepot tomorrow. Cheers,

      Steve

  6. David Martin | | #12

    Whichever ones you buy, if you are installing several then buy a couple extras. I installed 15 Phillips flush mounted LED's. After a year or two, one of them failed. Though Phillips honored the warranty, it took weeks of emails and phone calls and being shuttled among different departments before anyone could figure out the current model that was equivalent to the one I had bought.

    They do occasionally fail and when they do, the whole unit must be replaced and you do not one to have different physical or lighting attributes than the rest.

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