A Full Guide to Different Types of Recessed Lighting

Are you looking for an easy and effective way to update your home's lighting? Recessed lighting is a quick and popular choice to make any room look more modern and inviting. It offers an attractive and effective solution for illuminating any area, from a bedroom to a kitchen, bathroom, or living room. But, with all the different types of recessed lighting available, it can be overwhelming to select the right one.

In this article, we'll provide a full guide to different types of recessed lighting so you can make the right decision when choosing what works best for your space.

types of recessed lightingtypes of recessed lighting

Part 1. What Is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting, also called can lights or downlights, are ceiling fixtures with a trim that fits into an opening inside the ceiling. The light fixture itself sits "recessed" inside the ceiling, making it virtually invisible from below. Overall, recessed lighting offers aesthetically pleasing brightness while maintaining a contemporary look that won’t quickly become outdated.


  • Offers plenty of design options in terms of fixture shape, size, wattage, trim color, and more.
  • The lights are imperceptible from below, which creates a clean look.
  • Adaptable to many types of decors, including rustic or modern styles.
modern style recessed lightingmodern style recessed lighting


  • Multiple lights are needed for optimal coverage and intensity.
  • Professional installation is recommended for best results.

Part 2. Types of Recessed Lighting

When it comes to choosing the right type of recessed lighting for your needs, there are six main considerations.

1. In Terms of Housing

When considering different types of recessed lighting, housing is an important factor to consider. Depending on the installation area and existing space in the ceiling, there are three primary types of housing:

  • New Construction Housing—This type of housing requires access to the entire ceiling cavity for installation. As such, it’s best used for new construction projects where the ceiling has yet to be installed. New construction housings can often fit into shallow ceilings and thicker ones due to their low profile design.
new construction housingnew construction housing
  • Remodel Housing—Remodeling housing is efficient and straightforward, as they require no access to studs or joists for installation. They can easily fit through pre-existing holes left from previous fixtures installations or remodeling projects, making them an ideal choice when working with existing drywall. All that's needed are a hole saw and some 2 x 4 lumber.
remodel housingremodel housing

2. In Terms of Light Bulbs

Different types of light bulbs can create different textures, shadows, and colors, so it’s important to choose the right type.

  • Incandescent Bulbs—An early form of lighting device that is less efficient and has a shorter life span compared to other types.
  • Halogen Bulbs—A type of bulb that uses an enclosed filament combined with halogen gas, providing brighter illumination and increased longevity compared to incandescent bulbs.
  • Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Bulbs—Recognized for their energy efficiency, these lights utilize a gas-filled tube with a phosphor coating, need a ballast, but contain mercury.
  • Light Emitting Diode (LED) Bulbs—The most recent advancement in bulb technology offers stellar performance without any mercury content. Award-winning LEDs are longer lasting than other types and boast higher levels of efficiency too.
recessed lighting bulbsrecessed lighting bulbs

3. In Terms of Can

When considering types of recessed lighting, one important factor to consider is whether to go for canless or canned fixtures.

  • Canless Recessed Lighting—A popular choice for highlighting artwork, providing bright spots, and illuminating tasks like cooking or reading. Easier to install than canned fixtures as it clips directly into the ceiling hole with no additional wiring or mounting required.
  • Can Recessed Lighting—Consists of tin or aluminum housing which contains LED bulbs and halogen lamps designed to disperse light evenly with minimal ambient glare. Requires additional wiring and mounting before installation, making them take longer to install than canless varieties.
can and canless recessed lightscan and canless recessed lights

4. In Terms of Trim

There are several types of trim available for both canned and canless recessed lighting, each tailored to fit specific needs or design preferences:

  • Baffle Trim—A classic style featuring narrow grooves along its edges that block out extraneous light, yet provide adequate illumination below. Commonly used in modern interiors for subtle accent lighting effects.
  • Reflector Trim—Designed to increase brightness by directing more energy into one concentrated output beam; perfect for task-specific areas requiring focused luminescence.
  • Adjustable Trim—Features movable elements such as louvers to customize the direction of the light emitted, perfect for when more control is needed over directional settings.
  • Decorative Trim—An ideal choice to inject a touch of charm into any lighting setting; characterized by intricate patterns and elegant designs to transform the atmosphere of any room.
decorative trimdecorative trim

5. In Terms of Size

  • 4-inch Recessed Lighting—These lights provide adequate illumination in limited spaces. Installation is easy, fitting most 3-5 inch deep ceiling areas without added work.
  • 6-inch Recessed Lighting—The high coverage area and wider diameter design make this ideal for hallways or stairwells. Added depth allows flexibility when mounting on deeper ceilings or up to 10 inches in installation depth.
  • 8-inch Recessed Lighting—The largest size offered is perfect for high entryways or larger commercial settings needing bright light that won't irritate eyes from a lower angle. This size accommodates generous space between fixtures even when meeting safety regulations with fixture placement.
recessed lights in different sizesrecessed lights in different sizes

6. In Terms of Color and Temperature

  • Soft Light—Soft light is the perfect addition to any bedroom or living room, emitting a low-intensity yellow hue of 2000K–3000K that creates a warm and comfortable atmosphere.
  • Bright Light—Recessed lighting, such as daylight bulbs ranging from 4000K-5000K with cool blue tones that mimic natural sunlight, is an ideal solution for task-oriented spaces like kitchens, offices, or workspaces.
  • Daylight—Daylight bulbs are ideal for brightening up any space both during the day and night. Creating bright white light around 5000K–6500K, these high Kelvin-rated bulbs make objects appear crisp and clear, making them a popular choice in commercial settings such as retail stores.
different color temperaturesdifferent color temperatures

Bonus 1: Check Some of the Best Recessed Lights in 2024!

With AiDot Smart RGBWW Recessed Lights, you can upgrade your home lighting and make it smarter! This revolutionary recessed light is packed with all the features you could want and more. The best part is, controlling your lights has never been easier with its AI Dot App which allows you to adjust multiple lights from different rooms simultaneously. This innovative and user-friendly product offers several features:

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AiDot OREIN Smart Recessed Lighting - 4 Packs-4-inch
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Replace all your existing bulbs in an instant with this smart and energy efficient LED lamp which can be adjusted to the desired color. The app control opens a world of possibilities. Turn all your lights on in one go, or dim them for more ambience.

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AiDot OREiN Dimmable LED Canless Lighting-12 Pack-5CCT-4-inch
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OREiN 12 Pack 4 Inch Recessed Lighting LED 10W=75W Eqv, CRI>90, Dimmable Canless Downlight with Junction Box, Retrofit Light Fixture with Baffle Trim Wet Rated for Kitchen Living Room Bedroom

Bonus 2. FAQs About Recessed Lighting

1. What is the most common recessed lighting?

LED recessed lighting is one of the most commonly used types of recessed lighting, providing bright, uniform illumination while consuming less energy than other alternatives. The longevity of LEDs makes them an ideal fit for locations.

2. What is the difference between downlights and recessed lights?

Downlights and recessed lights are both lighting fixtures but differ in their effectiveness. Downlights create an indirect light effect, typically used for bathrooms, kitchens, or living rooms. Recessed lights offer direct lighting and are often seen in retail stores or industrial locations.


Recessed lighting is an excellent way to update any home's interior and can be tailored to fit a specific space or budget. There are many different types of recessed lighting, from housing options to construction types, trim styles, size variations, and color temperatures all of which must be considered before making your purchase.

The AiDot Smart RGBWW Recessed Lights provide cutting-edge features such as voice commands and group control that can help you truly customize your lighting experience. With so many options available, you'll have no trouble finding the right type of recessed lighting for your home!

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