I'm finishing two rooms in my basement (13x10 bedroom, and a 19x8 living area), and I've come to the point where I want to install recessed lights. When shopping for the lights what are the things I should look at to decide which lights to purchase?

At the moment the ceiling is open, so I'm looking at both new and old work fixtures. The main selling points I'm looking for are "green" (so they should accept low wattage bulbs), and cost (I don't want to blow the budget on lighting, so price is important).

I'm currently looking at a contractor pack of fixtures from Home Depot ($58.97), but I'm not sure if this is the best course of action.

What factors are important when comparing and purchasing recessed lights?

  • Look for IC fixtures if you plan to insulate over them.
    – Bryce
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


The fixtures you linked to are absolutely fine for new construction sheetrock ceilings. If you are going to use suspended acoustical tile then you will need a different model fixture that mounts directly to the tiles, not the floor joists.

In either case, you can lamp them with CFL bulbs which will burn cooler, less electricity. The only disadvantage to standard CFL's is that they can not be dimmed with an inexpensive incandescent dimmer. Always be sure to match the dimmer and bulbs correctly.


Another thing to check is that the fixture is or is not rated for use in an insulated ceiling. If you have a one-story house and you're putting the cans into a ceiling above which is your insulated attic, the cans will be surrounded by attic insulation, and if they're not rated, a halogen or other incandescent light can cause excessive heat build-up which can cause a fire. Even in two-story buildings, I have seen ceilings between floors either for acoustical purposes or for more specialized climate control needs like a basement apartment where a thermal break is needed. If you just see the subfloor of the story or attic above, either type is fine; if you have rolled, blown or sprayed insulation in this ceiling (or plan to have it when you put it back together), make sure the cans are rated for an insulated ceiling.

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