Energy Efficient Products

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Your go-to resource for the latest advice from ENERGY STAR experts on saving energy at home and work.

How to Choose and Install Recessed Lighting

Many of us spend more time at home these days, and for some, that brings to light all the household projects that we’ve put off. If you’re upgrading recessed downlights, there is no better time than the present. You now have design-grade options that have earned the ENERGY STAR that will make this an easy upgrade, as long as you are armed with the right information. ENERGY STAR certified downlight kits make it possible to upgrade existing recessed fixtures or install new ones, so let’s see what path is right for you.  

Upgrading existing recessed downlights?

Instead of switching out the bulb in an existing downlight can, choose a recessed light kit to save more energy and improve the overall appearance of the lit space.

How they work: Retrofit kits upgrade existing downlights by replacing the old bulb and trim with an ENERGY STAR certified LED light that screws into the existing socket like a bulb and snaps into place. You can upgrade your downlight without replacing or modifying the fixture inside the ceiling. Less hassle, less cost, no electrician needed; it is as simple as changing a bulb. 

1.    Remove the existing bulb and trim.
2.    Screw the connector into the bulb socket.
3.    Secure the kit to the housing using the built-in clips.

Replacing a ceiling light with recessed downlights?

If you have an existing ceiling light fixture, including track or pendent lights, that you’d like to replace with recessed downlights, choose ENERGY STAR certified recessed fixture kits to simplify the project. In all circumstances, you should consult the manufacturer instructions before attempting any installation.

How they work: These “canless” kits do away with the need for traditional housings, reducing the number of steps for installation and making it easier to install through a small ceiling opening. 
1.    Cut a hole in the ceiling commensurate with the size of the recessed downlight.
2.    Follow manufacturer instructions to wire the junction box to the house wire in the ceiling.
3.    Insert the LED module, which is held snug to the ceiling by spring clips on the backside of the drywall.

Before installation, be sure to follow all safety measures: 
•    Check that power is shut off at the breaker box.
•    Obtain a permit for installing new recessed lighting, if needed.
•    Review manufacturer guidelines.
•    Fixture is Insulation Contact or IC rated, if it will touch insulation.
•    Fixture is damp or wet rated if it will be exposed to moisture, such as above showers or outdoors.

Installing new overhead lighting using recessed downlights?

If you do not have existing overhead lighting, you will likely need to add wiring to connect your new recessed fixture to your home’s electrical control panel. That’s generally a job for an electrician. Once the wiring is in place, installing ENERGY STAR certified recessed fixture kits is a simple and elegant option. The steps at this point are the same as replacing an existing ceiling light with recessed downlights. 

More to know before you buy:
Whether you are installing new recessed downlights or replacing existing ones in your home, there are plenty of reasons to choose a kit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.

  • Attractiveness: These sleek downlights can elevate the look of any room in your home. Their low-profile complements most interior styles and means there is no fixture protruding from the ceiling. Plus, with ENERGY STAR certified recessed light kits, the trim and LED light are one piece, providing the cleanest possible look.
  • Dimming Capabilities: Many of these kits are dimmable when paired with a compatible switch and dim down to at least 20% of light output. ENERGY STAR certified kits provide dimming capability and compatibility information right on the package.
  • Light Color: ENERGY STAR certified recessed downlight kits are available in a range of colors from warm amber light to blue daylight (e.g., 2700K for soft, warm shades and 4100K+ for whiter, crisper shades). Many of these downlights allow you to set your preferred light color during installation. Some models are color tunable, allowing you to adjust the color of the lights using a smart device.

Find the perfect option for your home. Saving energy, protecting the climate, and upgrading recessed lighting is as simple as looking for the trusted blue ENERGY STAR label.

Author: Daniel Cronin, ENERGY STAR Certified Products