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LED Lighting & retrofitting cans?

I apologize ahead of time for my ignorance, but is any type of retrofit needed to use LED lightbulbs in recessed lighting?  I had a mini energy audit done, and unfortunately I'm not believing some of what he's recommending since he's also an electrician.  He wants to replace all 18 of the 6' cans - can't I just purchase LED bulbs?

Thank you!

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Posted 2014-07-22T00:43:52+0000  by CinP CinP
Since you mention 6" cans I'm going to assume you're using ordinary incandescent 65 watt BR30 lamps right now.  Depending on the bulb they put out about 635 lumens of light (Phillips).  You basically have three options - LED lamps, LED retrofit modules, and an entirely new housing and "light engine".  The replacement lamp is the cheapest at about $20 per lamp or $70 for a 4 pack.  Just unscrew the old lamp and screw in a new one.

If you're interested we can talk about the other options and their costs.

Posted 2014-07-22T02:46:16+0000  by Adam444
Thanks much.  I just relocated and purchased an older home; lots of energy inefficient aspects that I want to correct.  The wiring has been updated, and again I wanted to insure the guy wasn't just trying to rip me off.  I have a total of 12 canned recessed, I took his incandescent out and put CFL in just because I couldn't bear the thought of "wasting" that much, and I had a supply.   The lights are probably the most "minor" of the things needed, so if I can just replace the bulbs, and the trim (owner painted builders beige) then that's probably the best route at this time....

Posted 2014-07-22T02:59:13+0000  by CinP
As I said, just replacing the lamps has the lowest upfront cost.  You'd be looking in the neighborhood of $320 to replace the 18 lamps with LEDs.  Obviously compact fluorescents would be cheaper.  You'll have to do the math on the return on investment but depending how many hours per day these lights are on, it may be several years before you break even.

If any of these fixtures are on a dimmer, CFLs and LEDs are much fussier about dimmers than ordinary incandescent lamps.  You may have to change out the dimmer(s) as well.

Posted 2014-07-22T13:10:17+0000  by Adam444
The only reason I'm thinking I need to go ahead and change the entire fixture is due to their age and a potential issue with air leakage; I've found other issues and I can't help but think the current cans are more quality; I know I need to triangulate the attic crawl space so I don't want there to be any potential issues with old fixtures
Posted 2014-07-22T13:44:42+0000  by CinP
Hello CinP.  Welcome to the Community!

I think you are asking about 2 different issues.

First is the need to replace the cans themselves.  I would not say that older fixtures would be of lesser quality than new ones.  There are 2 basic types called IC and non-IC fixtures.  IC fixtures allow for direct Insulation Contact (IC) and being double walled are fine to pile attic insulation over.  Non-IC cannot have close proximity to the attic insulation, are cheaper to buy, and are often used for example in a kitchen ceiling of a multiple story home.  If you can access the attic and see the cans themselves, you should be able to determine which kind they are.  Maybe your electrician already has, and that may be why he wants to replace them all.  It may be cheaper to replace them than build little "tents" over them and insulate over that...Or, it may be that the cans are IC rated.  If so then you don't have to worry about air leaks, just add insulation over the attic area.

The second issue involves what kind of flood light bulbs you choose.  LEDs are the most efficient by a little bit, followed closely by CFL bulbs.  Incandescent are by far the worst.  Adam444 has already covered that very well.


Posted 2014-07-22T16:24:01+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
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