Best Recessed LED Lights (Reviews / Ratings / Prices)

Henriette Rieu  |  August 12, 2014  |  6 Min. Read

LED Lighting  |  Lighting  |  Recessed Lighting

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We have been writing about LED bulbs for years, but a 6 watt LED is roughly equivalent to a 55 incandescent and will last 25 times longer. LED also does not project much heat versus 300 degrees for the incandescent bulbs.

LED will be more expensive initially, but its operating costs are much cheaper.

What is a Recessed Light?

A recessed light is three different components.

The first is the housing or the electrical part in the ceiling. It is often referred to as a can or can light.

The second part is the decorative part wich you see. It is referred to as the trim.

The third part is the bulb.

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Recessed Lighting Brands

I have been at Yale almost 20 years. In that time we have sold Halo, Juno and Nora. All are fine brands, but in the same 20 years, production has moved almost exclusively to China.

Presently, in my opinion, Nora has the best price/value proposition.

Kelvin Scale

Kelvin is the light color or quality. This is important because LED naturally renders blue, almost like a fluorescent.

You want a LED rated at 2,700-3,300 Kelvin for optimal light quality which will give you a more gold to white color.

LED Recessed Applications

When putting in recessed lights, you need to consider the ceiling height for adequate beam spread. In other words, you need to calculate if the light will spread out adequately for tasking on counters or illuminate paintings on the walls.

You should also consider if the light will provide a softer light for places like the living room or the bedroom. 

Therefore no one LED recessed is the best for all of these the various functions.



For tasking in a kitchen as above, with ceilings from 7’ 6” to 9 feet my favorite recessed is the NORA- NLIC-401QSAT housing with the NORA NL-465W trim. The rough housing is $40 each, the trim $26.95 and the LED12 MR16 light bulb is $29.95 for a $96.90 total.

This 4” can be fitted with a SORA LED 12.2watt MR16 bi-pin light bulb. This will give 827 lumens with a 36 degree beam spread and is 2700 kelvin. It also projects about a 30 inch circle of light on the counter and around a 5 foot circle of light on the floor.

They are best situated around 6” out from the counter so that they do not glare in the eye. They should tilt to the upper cabinet and wash down the front to provide light in dishwashers and pullouts. These particular recessed LED lights are displayed in our showroom. They are one of the few LED recessed that can be tilted eloquently.


The second best is the NORA 5” NHIC-501QAT rough housing and the NT-5060w gimbal trim which can be fitted with and LED S8934 short neck PAR 30 lamp. 860 lumens, 14 watts energy consumption and great color rendition of 2700 kelvin. 

best-led-recessed-lighting-nora-NT5060WThe rough housing NHIC-527 cost $27 and the gimbal $19.90 and lamp S8934 $46.95 for a $93.95 total.     

These are a little more flexible in that they come in a shallow can 5 ¾” high for tight clearance in insulated spaces.

The 5” NHRIC-501qat rough, with the above pictured trim are great when the plaster ceilings are staying in and there is insulation above. There are no 4” that are a remodeler and will contact insulation. This is the only one.

Again fitted with the S8934 they also provide and more diffuse softer light for living rooms and bedrooms as seen below.


The gimbal NT-5060w can be tilted toward the paintings and away from your vision. When lighting bedrooms or sitting rooms it is important to tilt away from your vision and towards the paintings to cut glare and reflect off walls.


You can accomplish the look above with the 4” NL-401qat for $30 with again, a tilting NT-465w trim and the Sora LED 14w MR 16 which will have the punch of a 75w halogen. With higher ceilings you need a stronger bulb. Also with the soffit in place you can usually use a rough housing that does not need insulation contact and is less expensive.

The only other bulb that can punch down from very high places would be an LED20watt Par 38. In this case you must use the NH-17QAT, rough housing for $10 with a 6” NTM-41/2R  $7.30 and use a LED20Watt, Par 38 for $64.40, This LED light equals 1,130 lumens and can punch the light down from  the 10 to 12 foot ceiling. The total for the above rough, trim & bulb is $81.70.


There are so many options for the LED recessed. What I like about these recessed cans as they can be fitted with all different types of energy saving bulbs as long as they are medium based. In any case whether you are using integrated LED or remodeler or simply substituting LED bulbs you must use an electronic or True Universal dimmer.

We carry the Legrand true universal ADTP703TUWH which is the best dimmer to dim any of the bulbs.

Additional Resources

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A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.

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