Recessed Lighting in the Limelight

January/February 2004
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2004 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2004
        Recessed downlights are among the most popular installed lighting fixtures for new and remodeled homes. One study in the northeastern United States found that new homes had an average of 23 recessed cans per home. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) estimates at least 350 million recessed downlights are currently installed in U.S. homes, and around 20 million are sold each year.         All those replicating fixtures seem to offer irresistible efficiency opportunities. But the vast majority of recessed downlights use incandescent light sources, because incandescent reflector lamps are readily available in various wattages and sizes and are relatively inexpensive. In California, 60% of homes built since 1990 contained recessed downlights, according to a recent study, but only 0.4% of these fixtures used compact fluorescent lamps. At the national level, annual reported sales of fluorescent residential recessed downlights make up less than 1% of total residential recessed downlight sales.         Standard recessed downlights, which often allow air to leak from conditioned to unconditioned space,waste both lighting and space conditioning energy (see Figure 1). (See also “A Recessed Can of Worms,”HE Jan/Feb ’01, p. 42). Many states are addressing ...

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