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Cheat Sheet for Choosing LED Recessed Light Retrofit Modules

Cheat Sheet for Choosing LED Recessed Light Retrofit Modules

Posted by Chris Johnson on Oct 2nd 2015

If you've decided to retrofit your recessed lighting with LEDs but are unsure which product is right for you, this step-by-step guide should help you determine which LED retrofit modules to order.

1. What size do you need?

If you are replacing existing recessed lights, you need to purchase an LED retrofit module that matches those dimensions. If you're unsure, just measure the diameter of your existing recessed downlights (not including the trim). Your LED retrofit module will be either four, five, or six inches in diameter.

2. Where is the installation location?

If you are installing in a bathroom or any other area where moisture might accumulate, make sure to select an LED retrofit module that is "wet location approved."

3. What kind of trim do you prefer?

There's a lot of variety - whether you are looking for an adjustable trim, a standard white trim, or one specially designed to maximize light output, you'll have your pick. Here are a couple of terms to know: a baffle trim will minimize glare from the downlight. Baffle trims are popular in residential applications. A reflector trim does just what it sounds like - reflects the light in order to maximize light output. Reflector trims are more common in commercial buildings, but there are exceptions to every rule!

4. What about lumens, watts, & color temperature?

Each of our LED retrofit modules is labeled with light output (lumens), energy consumption, (watts), and warmth in color appearance (color temperature, measured in Kelvins).

Many consumers aren't familiar with using lumens as a point of reference because in the past, the degree of light output directly corresponded with how many watts the light bulb consumed. (Everyone knew that a 100W incandescent light bulb was much brighter than a 40W). Therefore, everyone simply shopped by wattage.

However, that logic doesn't work for energy efficient lighting. An LED might use only 11 watts of power but might emit 600 lumens of light - which is the equivalent output of a 40-60 watt incandescent.

If you are still more familiar with watts than lumens, this chart may help you understand what kind of light output you'll want to look for to emulate a 40, 60, or 100W incandescent light bulb:

Incandescent Wattage Lumen Output
40W 360 lumens
60W 615 lumens
75W 960 lumens
100W 1100 lumens
150W 2850 lumens

Color temperature measures the relative warmth or coolness of light appearance. The higher the color temperature, the "cooler" the light. A color temperature of 4000K emits a "cool white" light; whereas a color temperature of 2700K delivers a warm, yellowish glow.

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