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   What is recessed lighting and what are its benefits?

Recessed lighting, sometimes referred to as downlighting or downlights, is a type of light fixture which allows you to light any space in a convenient, unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing way. The light is placed directly into the ceiling in a specially built housing, so there’s nothing coming down from the ceiling apart from light. 

Recessed lighting is an extremely versatile light source as it works in lots of different types of space, from your kitchen to your bathroom, or from your living room to your outdoor space. It is also used to layer up lighting with another light source. Recessed lighting is perfect for those times when you want a cosy night in with a lamp on, but need a bit more light to boost it. 

In this article we’ll talk you through exactly what recessed lighting is, what it’s made up of, and how it can benefit you and add to your home.


The main components of recessed lighting 

Recessed lighting is made up of three main components: the housing, the trim and the bulb. These can be used in different combinations to achieve different effects and to make your lighting completely bespoke to your requirements. 


The housing 

The housing is the name given to the place where the light is fitted within your ceiling. It is a metal cylinder which encases the light fixture and fits securely into the ceiling. The lighting is often installed as a house is built, but can also easily be added to an existing building – you just need to find a suitable location for it. 

Ceilings with a fair amount of space above them to add the recess are ideal, as well as ceilings with attic access. Different housings can be used to work in different locations and with different materials. If you’re not sure whether a spot you’d like recessed lighting is suitable, it’s best to ask an expert for their advice. You can get in touch with us at Electrical Supermarket if you’d like to be pointed in the right direction.


The trim

Although recessed lighting is unobtrusive and intentionally doesn’t stand out much in your room, the trim is the bit of the recessed light which is visible, so this is where you can get creative and put your own individual stamp on your recessed lighting. 

The trim on recessed lighting is usually either circular or square, depending on the look you want to go for, and can be made out of a wide range of different materials with different finishes and colours. Your trim can blend seamlessly into the aesthetic of your room, or can be used to draw the eye and make your recessed lighting really pop. 

There are a few different varieties of trim to choose from. Some of the most popular include the following:


Baffle trim

Baffle trim is probably the most popular of all the types of trim available, especially for domestic settings such as bedrooms and living rooms. This is because baffle trims have grooves in them which reduce glare by absorbing some of the light emitted by the bulb, so they give a softer glow. 

They can be black, which absorbs the most light, or you can choose lighter colours to blend in better with white ceilings. 


Reflector trim

Reflector trim is great for amplifying and intensifying light, and pointing it straight downwards. Lights with reflector trim are perfect for spots which need brighter lighting, such as above desks or kitchen counters. 

Reflector trim is also a brilliant option for rooms with particularly high ceilings, as it makes sure the light travels to reach the room below at a good brightness. 


Open trim 

Open trim is the most minimal option for your recessed lighting. With open trim, the light bulb is at the same level as the ceiling, sitting flush with the opening of the housing. This means the light is completely unrestricted and so can illuminate a wider space than with other trims. It also offers a striking, sleek look. 


Adjustable trim 

Adjustable trim, as the name suggests, allows you to adjust the direction of your lights. This is particularly useful if you have a large space to light, or lots of different points in a room you want to light. It’s also great if you want to bounce light off of particular surfaces in a room. 

Whilst most recessed lights just point straight downwards, with the addition of adjustable trim you have a lot more options to make the lighting in your home exactly as you want it. 


Lens trim 

Lens trim is a thick trim which fully encases the light, diffusing it into a soft glow whilst also making it completely waterproof. 

Lens trim is perfect for spots which could be exposed to water and lots of moisture, such as bathrooms, some kitchens and especially outdoor areas. 


Wall washer trim 

Wall washer trim features a reflective panel which reflects the light to one side, allowing you to effectively add light to your walls, “washing” them with light. 

Wall washer trim is great for highlighting focal points in a room such as pieces of art you want to show off or a bit of interesting architecture. It’s also great for making a room seem brighter, as the light bounces off the walls and gives the whole room a glow, rather than just having light coming from above. 


The bulb 

The third main component of a recessed lighting fixture is, of course, the bulb. This is arguably the most important consideration when it comes to recessed lighting, as it provides the light itself. It is also one of the most customisable features of recessed lighting, and there are lots of things to consider when choosing the perfect bulb. 

Here are some of the main things to bear in mind when choosing a bulb for your recessed lighting:     


Bulb type 

There are lots of different types of bulbs to choose from, from traditional halogen lamps to more modern LED bulbs. Although there are pros and cons to most types of bulb, we recommend LED bulbs for a lot of reasons, but primarily because they are so much more energy-efficient than comparable bulbs.                    

Traditional bulbs produce heat as well as light, so up to 90% of the energy expended is wasted on producing heat which is useless, whereas LEDs don’t produce heat at all. This makes LEDs a more environmentally friendly option, and can also save you money on your energy bills. LED bulbs also last much longer than other types of lightbulb, lasting up to 11 years at a time, so you will save money by not having to replace them so often. 


Bulb shape

Bulbs come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, but for recessed lighting you want to make sure you go for bulbs which aren’t too long. This is because longer bulbs could stick out over the edge of your recessed lighting housing, which would leave you with a bit of bulb protruding out of the ceiling. Having bulbs sticking out of the ceiling would defeat the point of the sleek, clean lines of recessed lighting.


Light temperature 

The light temperature refers to the colour of the light emitted by the bulb. Different colours of light can give completely different tones to a room. 

White light gives a cool, crisp feel. This is perfect for workspaces where you need to be well-lit to get a job done efficiently, or anywhere you want a modern look. Light with more orange or yellow hues provides a warmer, cosier atmosphere. Warm light temperatures are usually found in bedrooms and living rooms, or any room where you want to feel cosy and at home. 

Choosing the perfect colour temperature for your recessed lighting has a huge impact on the overall feel of the light in your space.



Having dimmable bulbs in your recessed lighting gives you more control over your lights once they are installed. As recessed lighting is fixed in place (unless you opt for adjustable trim) you could use dimmers to choose how bright you want your lighting at various times of the day. 

With dimmable bulbs, you can have bright lights when you need to focus or need good visibility to complete a specific task, and then you can dim them when you want to relax and unwind in the evening. Dimmable bulbs allow you to customise your lighting from moment to moment, long after it’s been installed.


Benefits of recessed lighting

Recessed lighting comes with a whole host of benefits, from saving space and avoiding bumping your head on hanging pendant lights to their sleek, sophisticated look. Here are the main reasons our customers love recessed lighting:


Space saving  

Because recessed lighting is installed directly into the ceiling, it doesn’t take up any space in the room at all. This makes it perfect for minimalist rooms which don’t have space for clutter. There are no cords or cables hanging down, so there’s nothing to block views out of windows or over outdoor space, so you can make the most of every inch of space in your room without any obstacles. 


Perfect for low ceilings 

The fact that recessed lighting doesn’t take up any space in the room makes it the perfect choice for rooms with low ceilings, especially if you’ve got particularly tall people in your family! 

Basements, cellars and other storage spaces are great candidates for recessed lighting because of their low ceilings and smaller amount of headroom which you wouldn’t want taken up by hanging lights. Similarly, older buildings and basement flats can really benefit from the addition of recessed lighting. 


Light layering 

Recessed lighting is perfect for layering different light sources in a room to create the perfect ambience. You can make a room feel bright and welcoming or cosy and homely just by adding the right levels of light, and recessed lighting is a really easy way of achieving whatever lighting look you’re after. 

For cosy nights in, you might want the soft glow of a lamp or even candles, but need that little bit more light in the room. With recessed lighting, especially with dimmable bulbs, you can subtly illuminate your room until it’s just right, without the glare of pendant lighting. 


lternatively, if you want to fill a room with light and illuminate every corner, recessed lighting can do that for you too. By placing your recessed lights in harder-to-reach areas, you can banish dark, shadowy corners forever and have a light, airy feel to whatever room you want. 



Recessed lighting can be fully waterproof, with all cables and wires firmly hidden away so there’s no risk at all of them being exposed to water or moisture in the air. 

This shielding from steam and humidity makes recessed lighting a particularly popular choice for bathrooms. It’s also perfect for outdoor areas which might be exposed to the elements, because rain can’t penetrate it, and wind can’t blow it around as it’s safely tucked away. 


Sleek finish 

One of the main benefits recessed lighting has to offer is its sleek, modern and seamless finish. Recessed lighting fixtures are so unobtrusive that they fit easily into any decor. The subtlety and simplicity of the design makes recessed lighting a timeless option for lighting any space. 

Recessed lighting has been popular for many years, and is still growing in popularity today. Whilst trends in lighting come and go, recessed lighting is here to stay. 

Take a look at our extensive range of lighting options in our online shop. Alternatively, get in touch with our team for help and advice on which recessed lighting will work perfectly for your requirements. At Electrical Supermarket we pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our customers, and we’ll be more than happy to help.