I think I went overboard with installation of recessed lights in our living room. We have 6 recessed lights (ultra thin LED wafer like) in the living room and two switches connecting to each set of 3 lights. Even if we turn on one set, its is very bright and harsh on our eyes before bedtime.

The recessed lights are bright white and 900 lumens each while the living room is 20 ft x 13 ft with ceiling height of 10-12 ft.

I'm thinking of following two options as a solution but open to any other effective solution:

  1. Add a dimmer - Setting the dimmer at 50% be less
  2. Apply a softening film

Are there any possible DIY on the softening film? Does the privacy films available in market for mirrors work well for this?

  • You could also substitute smaller bulbs. – DavidSupportsMonica Mar 29 at 16:26
  • That is always an option but on a costlier side. Bdw, these are led recessed thin wafer like lights. – GC 13 Mar 29 at 16:31

Consider that any film you put across the opening of the can will hold heat in. Heat is the enemy of the electronics in the driver for your LED bulbs. Well, heat is the enemy of all electronics. It will also hasten the death of other types of lighting, and could, potentially, trap enough heat to start a fire.

I would consider a dimmer, allowing you to adjust the brightness to the situation - sometimes you'll really appreciate 3600 lumens in your living room, other times you'll want a tiny fraction of that.

I'd also consider a different color temperature bulb (if you have replaceable bulbs). You say that the lights are "bright white" which means they're in the 4500-6500K temperature range. A 2500K bulb will be a much yellower light (more light incandescent) and won't be quite so harsh on your eyes. However, it will seem to be dimmer, even at the same 900 lumens, when doing any sort of detailed work. Somewhere in the 3-4000K would probably be sufficiently bright, while still being easier on the eyes.

The ideal would be a bulb that is both dimmable and can change color temperature. Usually, these are controlled by a phone app and/or a home automation system.

  • Thanks @freeman – GC 13 Mar 29 at 17:12
  • you can check how your lights thermally react a gel filter (film) by placing a square of masking tape over one lens and comparing the temp after 10 mins to an uncovered one. If only slightly warmer, go 60 mins and repeat, and if still ok, you're fine to use scrims/filters. – dandavis Mar 29 at 20:10

I agree with FreeMan and his answer but from the sounds of it you have the wafer LED lights that just pinch the drywall? If so, you basically have 2 options. A dimmer that is rated for LED lighting and replacing the lights with Yellower or softer lighting. The dimmer is normally the best way to go here assuming the wafer lights support the dimmer function. I would not recommend a film over them as it COULD heat up and start a fire and that would not be a good thing.

Before you buy the dimmer or the new light, check on the lights themselves. Some of them now have it that you can adjust the color spectrum from 3500, 4000, 5000 and so on. 3500 kelvin is yellower softer lighting and the 6500 is day light with almost a blue hue to it. If they are adjustable it is normally on the box and you will see a little switch on the light its self with numbers similar to above. (each light has slightly different colors). Just know that the lower the number is, the yellower or closer to candle light (warmer-yellow) it is and the higher the number the brighter and closer to day light (cooler-blue) it is.

  • Thanks @Keith Weaver – GC 13 Mar 29 at 17:12

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