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I live in a US condo building which has standard recessed lights, looking somewhat like this:

enter image description here

I find the light to be too harsh and would like to have a way to diffuse it. Is there some sort of a diffusing lens I can install on top of the lights to make them pleasant to the eyes? Or should I just install a different lamp type if I want that effect?

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  • do a quick test ... tape a sheet of wax paper over the light – jsotola Nov 10 '20 at 23:24
  • I would cut a circle that just fits inside the can, maybe needing a few dots of poster putty to secure. A white foam plate or takeout "clamshell" should work for source material; I use that in DIY lamps and it works well, the thinner the better. – dandavis Nov 12 '20 at 8:04
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You need to talk to your local gaffer supply/film production supply. Rosco makes a variety of gels and scrims to do exactly that, and they’re made to be near hot halogen lights.

Alternately, you may be able to find LEDs that aren’t crap and have proper diffusers on them.

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  • Well the LEDs are Phillips, the most expensive ones you can get. But that's not diffuse enough for me. – JonathanReez Nov 11 '20 at 5:18
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Silk is known to soften lighting, but it's expensive & attaching it to the cans would be problematic. IMHO. I don't like the harshness of LED bulbs either. I replace them. There are various options with bulbs, such as "warm white" "daylight" "5000K"

Be aware of the heat though. If these cans were made for LEDs, and you put an incandescent in there, it may over heat.

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    Another thing beside LED temperature is their emissions spectrum. Many led bulbs emit only several narrow bands, which can be hard on the eyes. There are several markers such as CRI (colour rendering index) that are listed on bulb packaging. I personally try to buy LEDs with CRI at least 90 (out of maximum 100 which would be sunlight CRI), but typical common bulbs here usually have 80 – Gnudiff Nov 13 '20 at 6:54
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A retro-fit diffuser that fits with your make and model of housing/trim will be difficult to find (maybe impossible). Try different (lower lumen, different color) bulbs.

OR Try this- High-temp spray paint, flat white. Make a cardboard template and start by spraying just a small circular area in the center of the existing bulb glass. If there is still too much light, make the template hole bigger and spray again.

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