I have a slight contradiction of goals which I am hoping to resolve.
I would like to have recessed lights that are as inconspicuous as
possible yet fill the room with nice soft light.
Do there exist recessed lights that are small (3" or 4"), yet do what
I want them to do?
Many thanks in advance,
I would consider incandescent light as "soft", and in a four inch fixture,
the largest lamp you'll get is 65 watt BR30. IMO, you'd need an impractical
number of these to "fill" the room, and still be inconspicuous, unless it's
a pretty small room
One of the biggest mistakes that I made was putting recessed lights in
my home. I have over 100, 4 or 5 inch recessed incandescent lights
through out our house and find that they are useless unless we're
directly under them. They don't fill the room with light.
I would recommend checking their adjustments. Recessed lights have an
adjustment for the lamp socket position, which if it's set too far back
greatly reduces the beam width of the light emitted. Move the socket
position lower and you can get a much better beam spread while still
keeping the lamp out of regular view.
These are Lightolier fixtures and they don't have any adjustment
capability. I have even put one, and then two socket extenders in to
lower the lamps but they still dont work as well as a hanging light. I
guess nothing beats isotropy.
There were recessed lights in the kitchen when we bought the house, and it
was always dark, even in broad daylight with no overhead cabinets and 6
large windows. The first thing we did was remove those lights and replace
with track lighting. What a difference!
The softness of a light source is a function of its size relative to what it
is illuminating. Lights 3-4" will always emit light that is "hard" in
relation to people (flies, no if they are close to the light; people, yes).
You can use many of them to get *even* light over a given area but unless
they are ganged very close together the light will still be hard (sharp
shadow edges, specular reflections).
To get "nice soft light" you need reflected light, preferably big.
Fluorescents are often used for your purpose by blocking frontal and
downward light in some manner thereby illuminating the entire ceiling (which
needs to be white or a very light neutral color). If the area you want to
illuminate is smallish and has fairly high ceilings you could use "eyeball"
incandescents directed at the upper walls to get a similar effect.
Again if you have high ceilings, you could use regular cans but with large
diffusers below them to get a similar effect.
Halo makes a 3" can, but it is much more expensive than a 6" can. When you
go smaller the spread of light is smaller and to get even illumination you
need to install more cans which will fill up a ceiling. In order to get a
decent amount of light with the smaller cans you must use halogen bulbs
which tend to be a hard light.
If you want to be inconspicuous I would suggest that you use a 6" can and
adjust the socket so that the bulb is recessed up inside the fixture. Don't
buy the contractor packs that you see at Home Depot as they provide trims
that limit your choices.
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