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jmaguire123 11-25-2006 07:48 PM

Can I Mount Can (recessed) Lights Vertical?
Hello Everyone:

My friend has a plant ledge in a bedroom where she wants to install recessed lighting cans so they shine vertical at the ceiling.

Here is a photo of the plant ledge:

If it was any other room than a bedroom I would simply tell her to put in those ugly florescent tube lights like you see in offices.

Is there any problem with installing recessed lighting cans upside down so that they shine up?

What other options would she have for getting light to bounce off her ceiling and fill the room?



mdshunk 11-25-2006 09:53 PM

The code appears mute on that matter. I did look up everything I could get my hands on in the UL books, and only came up with this (from the UL Marking Guide for Luminaires):


— A luminaire with adjustable or alternate mounting positions is marked to indicate the limits of adjustment or mounting positions necessary to comply with test requirements.
— If a luminaire that may be installed in more than one position has been evaluated for use only in one orientation, the luminaire is marked to indicate its proper orientation. This marking is typically provided on wet location and wall mount luminaires.

NothingsLevel 11-25-2006 10:18 PM

Remember a few years ago there was a big problem with those torchiere halogen floor lamps that seemingly all college kids had? Things (drapes, bugs, dust, etc.) had a tendency to fall into/onto the lamps and ignite - it wasn't pretty.

I would be even more concerned about this with can lights where you're looking at mounting them. They'll be very hard to clean properly and if there isn't some way to keep stuff from falling into them, it could become a fire hazard. Unless the product explicitly says it can be used the way you're planning to use them, you may want to reconsider.

Just my opinion though.

mdshunk 11-25-2006 10:37 PM


Originally Posted by NothingsLevel (Post 24790)
Unless the product explicitly says it can be used the way you're planning to use them, you may want to reconsider..

You see, that's the trouble with the way that the UL requires luminaires to be marked. Unless there is a specific orientation that they must be mounted in, it will not say anything with regard to mounting orientation. I expect that recessed cans may have markings that say "Ceiling mount only", or something like that. I don't happen to have one handy at the moment, or I'd look. Lacking specific orientation instructions, the installer is permitted to install in whatever orientation pleases him or her. I agree, that mounting recessed cans face up is big trouble. There are exterior ground mounted recessed cans, used to uplight building facades. They have heavy glass and gasketed covers on them, however. This type of recessed can is prohibited from being used indoors.

Not Sure 11-26-2006 12:05 AM

Is there any way to put a regular plug up there?

I have seen plant ledges that look really nice when they lay rope lighting along the back edge.

To test whether or not your friend would like this, put some rope lighting up there first with an extension cord.

Last line... Of course, you will want to get a qualified electrician to put that plug in for your friend if you like the rope lighting idea...

jmaguire123 11-26-2006 08:34 AM

Thanks everyone for all your help so far!

Yes, last night I did get the idea to put in a box (outlet) up there and then use off the shelf "can" lamps that would not be recessed (and could be taken down for cleaning etc).

The rope light is an interesting twist, however, I have no experience with it, and I'm not sure about the amount of light it would provide. The space is rather dark (which is why she wants this done) and it looks like she initially wants to have two or three 75 watt light bulbs (not necessairly 75 watt bulbs, but the equivlent yield in light).

Regarding NothingsLevel's post about torchiere lamps, yes, fire is a concern of mine. One remedy I have would be to substitute normal light bulbs with those engery saving soft white "spiral coil" forescents which stay cool to the touch. I did some inital testing some of those those types of lights I had around the house and it's interesting, (at least the ones that I have) when they are in a NON-grounded fixture (e.g. a night table lamp), they are basically silent. When I put them in a grounded fixture like those I have over my mirror in my bathroom, there is a slight but displeasing hum which might prohibit their use unless I install an outlet up there and go with off the shelf plant can lights or something simiar (I am assuming it is a VERY BIG NO-NO not to ground recessed cans).

If anyone can provide more details about any of this, the rope light idea, or other creative solutions to this problem, please post them.

Thanks again,


Not Sure 11-26-2006 09:20 AM

The rope lighting idea...

Get some from Home Depot or Lowe's. Try it out. You can always take it back if you don't like it. It only costs a little bit of time (and no money) to try it. It really did look cool in the house I saw it in. Believe it or not, the rope lighting did add a nice amount of light. You can always have more than one row of lighting, also. I thought it was some kind of strip lighting. When I asked about it, I couldn't believe it was that cheap rope lighting you see at the home improvement stores.

Two or three 75 watt lamps can light up a whole room. That's a lot of wattage for a small plant shelf. I think non recessed cans would look nice, too. (...with lower wattage lamps)

sckeeth 11-26-2006 07:15 PM

How about using one of the shower trims with the glass in it. The ones you would use for a light in your shower. Halo makes them.

jmaguire123 11-27-2006 10:11 PM

2nd Update (New Wiring Challenge)
Well thanks again to all who have helped so far. Given the fire hazard, etc, she ended up deciding to put a new outlet on top of the plant shelf and plug-in "off the shelf" lights that she plans to routinly take down and clean.

I have a new challenge now however and I don't know anything about AC electrical wiring, here is the situation.

There are two switches in a box in the wall. The first controls an outlet on the other side of the room. The second, a fan overhead.

The outlet switch and the overhead fan switch are on two seperate breakers in the circuit breaker panel.

I'd like to simply add the new outlet (plant ledge)
to the same switch that is currently controlling the outlet (other side of the room) such that when the switch is thrown, both the plant ledge and the outlet on the other side of the room have power.

On my first attempt I simply connected black to black (hot?) and white to white (netutral?) ground to ground. What happens is that when the switch is off, the plant shelf is lit, when on, the wall socket is lit and the plant shelf is dark.

There are other wires in the switch box connected by wire nuts, so I suspect all of the stuff I need to do this is already in the box, however, I don't know what to connect to what.

Any ideas? Have I provided enough information?

Thanks again.


Not Sure 11-28-2006 07:49 AM

When you do get those off-the-shelf lights on the plant shelf, make sure not to put items not too close to the lamps. You could have a fire hazard there, also. Cloth, cardboard, etc. to close to a hot lamp... Well, you get the picture.

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