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Hey community,

I’ve got a few questions with respect to recessed lighting I’m hoping the group can ‘shed some light on’ (I thank you *in Austin Powers voice*).

Some background: Recently moved into an older house and the living room has no existing lighting (previous owners just had a few lamps in the space). I would like to install some recessed lights in the space to give the room some new life. The house is single story and attic is accessible. If it is relevant, the attic has blow-in insulation ranging in depth from 8”-12”. Questions are as follows:

1. What is the consensus with respect to the new construction vs. remodel/retrofit cans? Would one approach be preferable to the other (assuming both are IC rated)? Given the relative ease of attic access, I don’t have any initial leaning one way or the other, so would welcome any thoughts as to what people generally prefer to work with and what are better overall.

2. Is there any merit to using these integrated LEDs (i.e. the ones where you’re replacing the whole unit as opposed to just the bulb) as opposed to a more ‘traditional’ bulb? I’ve seen them in a couple of spaces and generally found the don’t disperse light super well and were difficult to look at, but perhaps this is just a function of LED bulbs overall or the particular units I’ve seen?

3. If the answer to #2 is to use the integrated LED, is there additional merit to avoid using the housing altogether and simply buy these integrated LEDs that only have the junction box?

4. Is there a need to surround the unit with some sort of fire protection (either the sheetrock build approach or the pre-fab fireboxes)? If yes, (sorry if this is an absolutely rookie question), I assume the fire protection is placed over the vapor barrier?

Any other pertinent comments or thoughts would be welcomed.

Thanks in advance
 

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Naildriver
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Welcome to the forums!

1. I prefer old work cans, mainly for the ease of running cable and installing them without having to go up in a dank, dark, dusty attic. Either is fine. Newer lights are so light weight, it won't matter too much.

2. I like the integrated bezels. One shot shopping, IMO. Get the light spectrum you prefer, however. 6000K is bright white like an operating room. On down the scale 2600K is a little warmer. Go to a place where you can see the effects of the temperature so you can get what you want.

3. I prefer the old work housings as they can be installed from below and contain your junction box too.

4. There will be minimal heat with LED lighting, so no special precautions except to buy IC cans.

Cut your holes precisely, as too large a hole won't allow you to fasten the can in place. Make sure your holes miss ceiling joists.

Neal types faster than me :eek:
 

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I like using standard trims and LED bulbs so you have versatility in color (2700 to 5000k) and beam spread. Remodel cans will lessen the amount of working in contact with the insulation. Get air tight cans as well as IC.
 

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In my opinion, I would use new work cans if you have access from above. It's nicer to not have them hanging from the drywall and cutouts don't have to be as precise.

In terms of integrated LED vs. standard bulbs...My personal opinion so far is to go with standard bulbs. Don't like the color temp you ended up with? Change the bulb (cheap), new dimmers don't dim the LEDs well? Change the bulb (cheap). Changing out light kits is a lot more money.

In my opinion, only use can-less LEDs in areas where you don't have height or don't know if you will have clearance. There you are effectively getting LED light kits and they work quite well.

The only other reason I have seen for special Cans that can only take LED light kits (no edison socket) is you can put more of them on a circuit without breaking code.
 

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Hammered Thumb
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I would recommend using standard (edison socket) housings with an LED bulb (notice the electricians also say this). You have the flexibility of any type of trim/baffle for your specific purpose. You can change to a different style of LED bulb that is current or in the future, and allows experimentation as well.

The biggest reason is that LEDs can go out prematurely. What if you can't match that fixture (I've had a hard time even matching some LED bulbs I have)? Do you have to replace all of them then? And that's not even considering after an LEDs life cycle or during a remodel.

I have retroffited using new construction (when have access) housings. Make sure you are able to get the hanger lip under the joist between the drywall (lath/plaster may be difficult). Also, may be a bear to place/screw (tricky to nail even the preset nail, especially in really old hard wood) if you are in the low end of a sloped roof. Also also, many older houses have wood blocking here and there or electrical/plumbing which may interfere with your huge housing. So remodel housings can be much easier.
 

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The only other reason I have seen for special Cans that can only take LED light kits (no edison socket) is you can put more of them on a circuit without breaking code.
That’s not the reason they exist. It’s at best a side benefit.

Before LED’s, California established high efficacy lighting requirements for kitchens and bathrooms. As CFLs were then the only option for can lights, we also banned Edison screws for high efficacy locations as we knew some homeowners would be switching the CFL’s back to incandescent bulbs as soon as the building inspector left.

So as the LED bulbs hit the market, the LED can and LED modules with the plug connection were developed to meet the California “No Edison Socket locations”.
 

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Retrofit are designed to be installed from below and new construction cans require mounting their brackets to the joists from above the ceiling. I would go with insulation rated retrofit cans in a 6" size.

Much easier and faster to cut holes and rotate in a new light can then to mount from above after the sheetrock and insulation are in place. Be aware that the actual hole size needed depends on the brand of 6" light can that is used. Halo in particular has a rigid bracket to the junction box for connecting the wires and this means having a 6-3/8" hole and not the 6-1/4 size that Halo recommends. Very good idea to buy a piece of 2' x 2' piece of sheetrock at the local building supply store and using it to make test holes to verify the hole size needed.
I use a Hole Pro adjustable hole cutter with a dust shield as the shield keeps the work area clean and I don't get a lot of sheetrock dust and mouse dropping coming down into my case and under my shirt.

A big potential problem with LED lights is that they come in a range of color temperatures from 3200K up to 6000K and if you don't like the color cast by the lights it is much better if it is a LED lamp that you can unscrew and return than to have a permanently mounted LED lamp. Also LED's last but not the drivers that make them work. If the driver goes it means replacing the entire fixture and again it is much easier to simply screw out a lamp and replace it with another one.

The ONLY place where a fluorescent fixture was mandated was for the primary light in a kitchen. The secondary lights on another switch could be anything. At the time there were no screw in LED lamps but that has changed in recent years and the cost of these is 20% of what it was when they first became available.

In California with Title 24 the regs were changed in 2016 and any lamp that is JA8 compliant can be used and this is not at all limiting in terms of lamp and fixture options:
https://www.1000bulbs.com/category/ja8-bulbs/
 

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Neneos, what type of lights did you decide on, and how did the project go? I am in the same boat as you--want to install recessed lights in an older (50s) house with attic access and no living room lights--so I would love to learn from your experience.
 
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