Low Profile Recessed Lighting: A Comprehensive Buying Guide


While intricate light fixtures such as chandeliers may add a touch of class to your home, they can be flashy and pretentious. An increased number of interior decorators are turning to the simplicity of low-profile recessed lighting.

Their minimalism can add a clean and modern finish to any room. However, recessed lighting does not have to work against your more traditional lighting options. You can use them in conjunction with each other.

Low profile recessed lighting is versatile. Thanks to the technology of COB LEDs, consumers have more options when it comes to shallow recessed downlighting. 

Nevertheless, in this guide, we will explore what low-profile recessed lights are and how to choose the best ones for your home. Without further ado…

Low Profile Recessed Lighting

What is Low Profile Recessed Lighting

Low profile recessed lighting describes light fixtures that are small or shallow. Most people use them as ceiling downlights. However, you can also use them on walls and on the ground. 

For wall lighting, we suggest that you use an angled flange to direct light to a focal point. Inversely, ground lighting helps you illuminate a pathway or brighten a landscape. 

Recessed lighting consists of two main components: the housing and the trim. The housing is the base of the light. In fact, much of the structure of the recessed light is the housing. The housing is what you secure into the ceiling, wall, or ground. If we can compare the recessed lighting to an animal’s body, you could consider the housing to be the light’s inner organs. It connects the light to the power and holds the bulb or light source.

Consequently, we can then compare the trim to the skin or outer organs of a body. As such, while the housing is unseen, the trim is visible to the outside world. The trim covers the body and the hole or space you have drilled for the light. The trim can also fix or hold the entire fixture in position.

How to Choose the Best Recessed Lighting

In this section, we provide you with some helpful tips to assist you in purchasing the perfect set of LED recessed lighting. 

Location and Placement

You can use recessed or shallow lights for ambient lighting, spotlighting, or wall washing. Before you shop for low-profile lighting, you need to have a clear idea of where you will place it. It will help you understand what size of lights you will need, as well as how many. 

You need to measure the size of the room and decide the intensity of the lighting. Do you plan to use recessed lighting as your primary source of lighting? Did you want to use it in conjunction with other lighting sources? Do you want to use it for mood lighting? These are all questions you need to answer before you envision the placement and then purchase the lights.

Once again, you do not have to stick the lights in the ceiling. You can place them on the walls or your floors. Although, people usually install low-profile lighting between ceiling joists.

If you want focused lighting on your kitchen counters, we suggest installing the lights under kitchen cabinets. For insulated ceilings, you need to purchase low-profile light fixtures with IC ratings. 

To avoid casting shadows or making your ceiling appear lower, try to place low-profile lighting three feet from the wall.

The distance between the lights should equate to half the height of the ceiling. If you have a ten-foot-high ceiling, the lights should be 4-feet apart. Recessed ceiling lights are great for focal point lighting. Whether you are trying to illuminate a desk for study, a prized sculpture, or painting, recessed LED lighting can be the perfect option for this. 


Recessed lighting comes in various shapes and sizes. Once you have decided where you want to place your lights, you need to figure out what size of lights you want. In low profile can lights, the trim size will often correlate to the size of the housing. Inversely, can-less low-profile recessed LED lights are almost all trim. Most are 4-8 inches in size (in terms of height).

Trim Type

As we explained earlier, the trim is what is visible to the outside world. Thus, its aesthetic value may be important to you. There are different trim types that you can coordinate with the rest of the deco in your home. Trim Types include:

Baffle Trim:

They are easy on the eye and are suitable for living room spaces and foyers.

Reflector Trim:

They have a shiny finish and are suitable for kitchens.

Gimbal Trim:

They are mobile and can switch directions. Consequently, they are suitable for smart lighting and sloped ceilings.

Shower Trim:

They are water and corrosion-resistant. As such, you can mount them in your bathroom. They usually have an indistinct finish and can blend in well with the rest of your bathroom.

Wall Wash Trim:

They have a slotted appearance. Additionally, they can have some mobility too. They are suitable for highlighting a wall or a workstation. 

Open Trim:

They are simple and basic trims. Moreover, they tend to be the most affordable. They have a simple and thick structure.

Eyeball Trim:

They are one of the most mobile and versatile trims. Eyeball trims allow you to control the light’s direction. Furthermore, they generally have a 359-degree rotation with a 30-degree and are ideal for smart lighting.

Surface Adjustable Trim:

They offer the most amount of mobility. Surface adjustable trim lights operate like an arm, but they also rotate and pivot. Additionally, they have a 359-degree rotation with a 70-degree tilt.

Slot Aperture Trim:

They hide the light source. Moreover, slot aperture trims have some mobility. They generally have a 179-degree rotation with a 35-degree tilt.

Pinhole Trim:

As the name implies, these trims squeeze light out from an almost completely hidden source.

Lensed Trims:

A plastic or glass lens covers the light source. As such, we often use them in wet conditions. 

Decorative Trims:

These trims may be artistic or avant-garde. Consequently, you can get them custom-made for your home.

Brightness and Wattage

Low profile recessed lights come in various depths of brightness and wattages. A good low-profile lighting product will be energy-star rated. You can get affordable 15-watt lights that shine with 900 lumens of brightness. Alternatively, you can get 20-watt surface mount shallow lights with 2000 lumens of brightness. You have many options at your disposal.

Color Temperature

Color temperature describes the appearance or shade of the light that a source emits. We measure color temperature using Kelvin. Some receding LED light fixtures have adjustable color temperatures. The most common color temperatures are:

  • Amber: 2300K
  • Soft White: 2700K
  • Warm White: 3000K
  • Cool White: 4000k 
  • Daylight: 5000K
  • Daylight Deluxe: 6000K
  • Diamond White: 7000K
  • Bright White: 8000K
  • Ultra-Bright White: 9000K

Dimming Feature

Some receding lights are dimmable, while others are not. It means that some lights allow you to adjust their brightness or intensity. Before purchasing your set of receding lights, make sure that you read the specifications. From this, you can discern whether the recessed light fixture is dimmable or not. 

Smart Technology

Thanks to smart technology, you can customize and automate your lights. You can change the color temperature and the color of the lights on the fly. Additionally, you can also synchronize the lights with your music, schedule when the lights turn on and off and dim them. You can do this using your smart mobile device, Google Home, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa.

FAQs of low profile recessed led lighting

Are Canless recessed lights good?

Canless recessed lights are good for low concrete ceilings. They are energy efficient and generally easy to install.

Do LED recessed lights need housing?

LED recessed lights do not necessarily need housing. They can be canless and low profile.  

What can I use instead of recessed lights?

You can use traditional light fixtures instead of recessed lighting. A good option for low ceilings is a semi-flush light. Additionally, you can try to use LED strip lights instead. 

Is recessed lighting outdated?

The recessed lighting is not outdated. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Recessed lights are currently in fashion. 

How do you install low-profile recessed lighting?

Installation of recessed lighting will depend on where you install. However, to install a low profile light in your ceiling, you will need to drill a hole, drill through the joist and connect the recessed lighting. Of course, it is a little more complicated than this, but most light fixtures tend to come with a manual.  


Low-profile recessed lighting is great for homes with low ceilings and little space. Even if your home has ample size, you can still benefit from using them. They are an affordable and flexible lighting option. Which is a point we hope that we have highlighted in the above text. Nevertheless, we hope that you have found this guide to be helpful. As always, thank you for reading. 

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