Shallow Recessed Lighting

What Is Shallow Recessed Lighting?

Construction projects always present problems to contractors and homeowners which must be overcome with creativity, and shallow recessed lighting is no exception.  The popularity of open floor plans with high vaulted ceilings has presented many challenges for lighting manufacturers trying constantly to produce more light with less energy in smaller spaces.  In order to maximize unobstructed square footage, attics have been reduced to make way for more headroom resulting in less and less space to put all of the “behind the walls” infrastructure required to make a home function.  Shallow recessed lighting was created to give homeowners aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient flush mount lighting fixtures in places where traditional fixtures would not fit.  

What separates a shallow recessed light can from a traditional one is how the unit is constructed.  Generally, the narrower cans have the electronic components separated from the light socket and mounting bracket.  Whereas traditional fixtures have all of the components in one cube shaped housing, shallow light cans have all of the electrical components in one smaller housing, and the “can” itself separate and connected with by a wire.  This design is especially effective in hard to work areas as the electrical housing can be moved around and adjusted after the socket is installed to make room for other conduit and wires.  

Low Profile Recessed Lighting Minimum Clearance:

Although low profile can technology has come a long way, there still needs to be an adequate amount of space to put all of the components.  Most shallow recessed lighting fixtures require a minimum of 5 inches of clearance, however there are a few that allow a little as 4 inches.  However, with the low profile comes a limitation of wattage usually in the 50-75 watt range as opposed to the 150 watt capacity of most units.  Compared to a traditional can fixture which usually requires 7 to 8 inches of clearance, or more, the few extra inches can make the difference between being able to enjoy recessed lighting or not.

Shallow Recessed Lighting Alternatives:
For most renovation and remodeling projects, if you don’t have the necessary clearance of 4-5 inches, you may find it necessary to explore alternatives with similar style and functionality.  Low profile track bullets provide many of the same benefits of shallow recessed lighting such as very little interference with the space, low energy consumption, and versatility.  Bullet style track lights have the advantage of being able to be focused in any direction making them a great solution for accenting furniture or decorations, as well as being a great alternative to sloped ceiling recessed lights.  

Choosing a shallow recessed light can can be limiting because you must often accept a smaller trim diameter and a lower wattage bulb, however the lower profile still allows you to enjoy all of the stylistic advantages of a flush mount unit.  Be sure to consult with a contractor or electrician before attempting install any electrical fixture by yourself to ensure safety and compatibility.