Recessed lights are versatile, aesthetically appealing, space-saving and can brighten up any area effortlessly, making them extremely popular lighting options. However, when you consider a 4 inch vs 6 inch recessed lighting, you may wonder which is a better choice for your home. Read on to know more.

4 inch vs 6 inch recessed lighting

4 Inch vs 6 Inch Recessed Lighting

When you’re choosing recessed lights for your home, you may be rather confused about whether to use 4-inch or 6-inch lights. However, before making your final decision, it is a good idea to evaluate the pros and cons of each option and determine the one that is best for your needs.

4-Inch Recessed Lights

Generally, 4-inch recessed lights are more compact compared to 6-inch ones and some of the benefits of using 4-inch recessed lighting include:

  • The compact size of 4-inch lights gives them a more modern look, making them more versatile, especially for gimbal and specialty trims and more well-suited for accent and task lighting applications.
  • Using 6-inch recessed lights in a small room will end up making the ceiling or walls look very cramped. And, so using 4-inch lights is better as they offer a spaced-out look and help smaller rooms look a lot larger via wall washing.
  • 4-inch lights are perfect focus lights and suitable for areas such as on top of your artwork, décor or plant, above your reading area or kitchen sink to illuminate the specific area.
  • It is better to install larger size lights in the center of the room, while 4-inch recessed lights are best for room edges as they can help to brighten the edges well while reducing power consumption.
  • 4-inch recessed lights are perfect to illuminate dark spaces such as your pantry, wood cabinet, etc. so that you can see clearly, without being blinded by the light.
  • 6-inch recessed lights take up more space; however, if the ceiling or wall does not have a lot of space, then 4-inch lights can be the best option.
  • 4-inch lights are compact and smaller compared to 6-inch lights and are typically installed in places that do not require very bright lighting. Their small size not only makes 4-inch light more affordable, but they consume less energy and as a result, they are more energy efficient.

6-Inch Recessed Lights

  • If you’re planning to install recessed lights, then 6-inch ones are considered the standard. 6-inch recessed lights look best in most standard-sized rooms and are preferred by most contractors. Since they are larger, you don’t need to use several 6-inch lights to get the same light spread.
  • The larger diameter of 6-inch lights makes them ideal for large rooms, especially living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and any other rooms requiring plenty of light. 6-inch lights are also useful for rooms having large roofs or high ceilings.
  • If you’re on the lookout for lights that will illuminate everything properly, then 6-inch lights are the best, especially for general lighting since they have a wide beam angle and higher lumen output. If you want to light up smaller areas or highlight surfaces, then 4-inch recessed lights are better.
  • 6-inch recessed lights have larger-sized cans, which allows sufficient space to include additional features such as controlling the light from the bedroom, turning the light/on and off, etc.
  • Since 6-inch lights can illuminate larger spaces, you will require to use fewer lights to light up the room, thus saving money.

Related Post:
IC vs Non IC Recessed Lighting: What’s the Difference?

What Is the Best Size for Recessed Lighting?

What is the best size for recessed lighting

If you’re in a situation where you need to choose between 4-inch vs 6-inch recessed lighting, here are a few aspects to consider before making your decision.

6 Steps How to Install IKEA Under Cabinet Lighting


When you’re choosing the recessed lighting, the place where you’re going to install them plays a very important role when it comes to choosing the size. For larger rooms, lights with a larger diameter i.e., 6-inch lights may work better compared to smaller ones.

On the other hand, if the space for the installation of lights is very small, then 6-inch lights may not fit into the tight space, making 4-inch lights a better option. 4-inch recessed lights work better for smaller rooms such as children’s nooks, walk-in closets or laundry rooms.


The purpose of the recessed lighting will determine the type of recessed light and size to purchase. For example, if you’re using recessed lights to decorate your home, then you can choose between 6-inch or 4-inch lighting, depending on the available space.

However, if the objective is general lighting, then 6-inch lights work best, especially for mid- and large-sized rooms, where the illumination provided by 4-inch lights won’t be sufficient. So, to determine which light size is the best, measure the size of your room and ceiling height.

Decor Objectives

The size of recessed lighting you choose depends on the décor of your home and your lighting goals. For instance, if you want recessed lights for general lighting, then 6-inch lights will work well; however, if you want the light to illuminate a portion of your wall or illuminate a piece of art, etc. and create drama, then 4-inch recessed lighting is the best choice.

A wide range of recessed light sizes are available and you can decide the size of light required by measuring the diameter (excluding the trim) and then selecting the size that will accommodate the size of your wall or height of the ceiling. As a general rule of thumb:

  • 4-Inch Recessed Lights: These are good for focal lighting, overhead countertop lighting, etc.
  • 5-Inch to 6-Inch Recessed Lights: These are good for general lighting purposes.
  • 7-Inch to 9-Inch Recessed Lights: These lights provide a wider wash of light.
Remodel vs New Construction Recessed Lighting — Which One Should I Choose?

How Much Area Does a 4-Inch Recessed Light Cover?

When installing recessed lights, in general, for every 4-6 sq. ft. of ceiling space, one recessed light is used, which helps to provide uniform overall illumination. To determine how far apart the 4-inch recessed lights must be, the height of the ceiling must be divided by 2. For example, if the room has an 8-foot ceiling, the 4-inch recessed lights must be spaced around 4 feet apart.

For recessed lighting, 4-inch lights are the starting point. 4-inch lights are quite versatile and can be used to illuminate smaller spaces, and can also be used for bathrooms and kitchens. However, it is not recommended to use 4-inch recessed lights for ceilings that are more than 8 to 9 feet.

How Much Area Does a 6-Inch Recessed Light Cover?

6-inch recessed lights generally cover a wider area because of their larger diameter, higher lumen output, larger size and wide beam angle. 6-inch recessed lights illuminate a larger surface area and so are ideal for larger rooms requiring a lot of light such as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, etc.

When considering the spacing of the 6-inch recessed lighting, you must consider the height of the ceiling. The maximum spacing criterion is provided by every manufacturer, which is basically a ratio that helps to determine how far apart you can put each recessed light.

The ratio is generally a number between 0.5 and 1.5. This number is multiplied by the height of the ceiling to arrive at the maximum distance for each light. For instance:

  • Maximum space between each recessed light = ceiling height x spacing criterion
  • For a 6-inch light, if the spacing criterion is 1.5 and if the height of the ceiling is 8 feet, then the maximum space between each 6-inch light should be 1.5 x 8 = 12 feet.

The spacing of the 6-inch recessed lights is very important because if the lights are very far apart, then there will be large shadows between the lights, whereas, if the lights are too close, the room will be overlit and the lights can create glare or wash the room out.

How to Best Protect Wood Floors from Furniture?

What Size Recessed Light for Living Room?

What size recessed light for living room

The size of lights you use in the living rooms depends on the size of the room and your preference. Generally, living rooms are quite large and need more lighting for better visibility, especially if the living room has a tall and sloped ceiling.

You will need larger recessed lights to illuminate the room like 7-inch or 6-inch lights or several 5-inch or 4-inch ones. Typically, for living rooms, you must use 2,200k to 2,700k warm white recessed lights of lumens between 1,000 to 2,000.

You can also choose between different trim options like adjustable, reflector and gimbal trims. To achieve the best lighting in the living room, the recessed lights must be placed 2-3 feet away from the walls.

Can You Have Too Many Recessed Lights?

Often, when using recessed lights homeowners, builders and contractors tend to go overboard with the number of lights used in a particular room. And, too many recessed lights in a room can end up making the space over illuminated and too bright. So, the best way to avoid an overlit space by installing too many recessed lights is by creating a lighting plan.

When you’re remodeling your home, it is a good idea to work along with a lighting specialist to decide the lighting requirements of the various rooms in your home. The lighting expert can help you to plan the number of recessed lights required for the particular space depending on the size of the room, the height of the ceiling, size of the recessed light, lumen output, etc.

If the lights are already installed and you cannot be changed, then check if controls can be added to the lights. You can consider putting them on separate switches so that you can turn the lights on separately. Adding a dimmer to the recessed lights allows greater control of the brightness.

To conclude, both 4-inch and 6-inch recessed lights are quite similar, except for the difference in their size. And, if you want to know which is a better option between 4-inch vs 6-inch recessed lighting, then the factors we have discussed in our article should make it quite easy to choose between the two.

Similar Posts