What Recessed Lighting Is Best For A Sloped Ceiling?

A sloped ceiling is a feature that requires specially designed lighting options. Fitting standard ceiling lights on a sloped ceiling can lead to unwelcome glare and misdirected lights shining to the middle of the room instead of straight down. So let’s discuss what recessed lighting is best for your sloped ceiling.

Do You Need Special Recessed Lights For Your Sloped Ceiling?

When fitting recessed lights in a ceiling that slopes, often referred to as a vaulted ceiling, it’s essential to purchase adjustable lights that can rotate.

Recessed lights are also known as downlights. When employed on flat ceilings, these recessed downlights send light directly to the floor, creating light columns throughout the room and adding a certain ambiance to the space.

The problem or common issue when applying standard recessed downlights to a sloped ceiling is the angle of light.

When installing standard (non-rotational) downlights in sloped ceilings (two sides meeting in the middle of the roof), you will end up with lights that shine toward the middle of the room instead of straight down.

living room with sloped ceiling and angled recessed lights
Two variations of recessed lights: standard (left and right) / angled (on sloped ceiling)

If you apply standard downlights in a room with one slope, you’ll end up lighting up half of the room and not the other. Directional downlights set at a downward angle will provide more effective lighting.

With adjustable, directional downlights as your choice for your sloped ceilings, you’ll be able to adjust the lights to where they should be shining in the first place, which is down.

Standard lights used in a sloped ceiling will result in the light beams shining into your eyes and create an unwelcome glare, especially if the roof is low and close to a person’s line of sight.

The Best Types Of Recessed Lighting For A Sloped Ceiling

Lighting plays a crucial role in setting the tone of a home. When set up correctly, the lighting of a house can be a calming influence, a mood, and a task enhancer.

When done wrong, it can be a distracting influence, a mood killer, and a feature that detracts from a room’s overall aesthetics and ambiance.

The following types of recessed lighting options are popular choices when lighting up sloped ceilings:

Specifically Designed Angle-Cut Sloped Ceiling Recessed Lights

An angle-cut sloped ceiling recessed light is a fixture specially designed for a sloped ceiling. To synchronize with a sloped ceiling, manufacturers design and cut the trim aperture at an angle that fits the slope, ensuring that the light source points straight down to the floor.

These angle-cut lights are called Dedicated Sloped Ceiling Housing and Inserts, which refers to both the light housing and the light insert manufactured at a specific angle that fits ceiling slopes from 2/12 (10°) to 12/12 (45°).

adjustable recessed lights for vaulted ceilings
Adjustable recessed lights that shine straight to the floor

These products cost more than adjustable LED lighting options, but it fits like an airtight glove, and the light direction is perfect no matter the gradient of your ceiling slope.

The light housing can fit a range of light inserts ranging from, and are ideal for new constructions or airtight remodel projects:

  • Adjustable Gimbal Baffle Trim
  • Adjustable Gimbal Reflector Trim
  • Regressed Eyeball Reflector Trim
  • Regressed Eyeball Baffle Trim
  • Super Sloped Gimbal Baffle Inserts
  • Super Sloped Gimbal Reflector Inserts

Adjustable LED Recessed Lights

Adjustable LED lights are known as gimbals, eyeballs, or directional lights. Adjustable recessed LED lights are the most popular lighting option for sloped ceilings and are available in numerous variations.

These lights are sloped ceiling favorites due to the fact that the lights can be angled downward, unlike standard lights following the pitch of the ceiling. A popular adjustable LED sloped ceiling recessed lighting option is:

Halo 6-Inch RL Slope Ceiling Direct Mount

The Halo 6-Inch RL LED Sloped Ceiling Light is a popular sloped ceiling lighting option. The Halo RL Slope offers five color temperature options:

  • 2700K
  • 3000K
  • 3500K
  • 4000K
  • 5000K

You can adjust these lights from 9° to 45°, which means they will work on any ceiling slope. The direct mount is airtight, IC-rated, and has a brightness of 1500 lumens.

Fully Adjustable Elbow Recessed Lights

Elbow recessed lights are the perfect light to use in a sloped ceiling when looking for a light source to illuminate your favorite piece of art or an accent piece. These fully adjustable lights can rotate a full 360° and can adjust to a 75° angle.

Elbow lights don’t fit flush against a sloped ceiling. Instead, these lights protrude and are employed when the angle or placement of the ceiling demands a more specialized lighting option.

special angle-cut recessed lights for vaulted ceilings
Standard recessed lights on sloped ceiling would glare when sitting on the sofa

LED Panels

LED panels are modern sloped ceiling options that cover a lot of space, so they are especially effective when dealing with tall and ample ceiling space. In addition, installing LED panels in your sloped ceiling will create a different feel than smaller adjustable LED recessed lights.

These panels are available in sizes that range from 12″ x 48″ and 24″ x 48″, making them prominent and in charge regarding the vocal point of the room. Look for a thin trim option and products that include clips (hurricane and earthquake) for secure installation.

How Long Does Recessed LED Lights Last On Average

LED lights are rated for thousands of hours of use. Many LED light manufacturers rate their products to last more than 50,000 hours, lasting over five years if you leave them on 24/7. When used more sparingly, the LED lights in your recessed sloped ceiling lighting product should last for decades.

Considering that installing recessed lights in a sloped ceiling is not the most straightforward job, it makes sense to use a light bulb option that won’t require you to get out the long ladder every couple of years for a bulb replacement.

Sloped Ceiling Recessed Lighting Factors To Consider

When choosing directional recessed lights for your sloped ceiling, some critical factors need consideration regarding the lights you intend to fit.

Here are some specifications to look out for when buying recessed lights for your sloped ceiling:

Size Of The Recessed Lights

When deciding what lights are best for your sloped ceiling, you must determine what size LED lights you require. Typically, the choice will be between 4-inch or 6-inch lights. The 6-inch LED light options work best in a large room, whereas a 4-inch setup will be enough for a smaller space.

The Brightness Of The Lights

The brightness of the sloped ceiling lights is another factor to consider. A sloped ceiling light setup’s minimum lumens must not be below 600.

It makes sense to go much higher, as you can control the overall brightness with a dimmer switch. Lights that can dim up to 5% are a good option, as they give you complete control of the room’s brightness.

For tall ceilings, opt for a light that offers 900 lumens or more. To put lumens in context, a 1000-lumen flashlight can shine a light that’s bright enough to light up 650 ft in the dark.

The Color Temperature Of The Lights

The color temperature of lights is measured in Kelvin. That’s what the letter K stands for, often indicated on the side of the base of the light. So the temperature description is either warm or cold.

Color temperature has nothing to do with how warm the actual light gets when on but rather the visual effect it produces and how much white light it emits. A warm white light has a particular hue, typically described as having a yellow, amber, or reddish color.

A cooler white light will have an almost blueish hue to it. On the color temperature scale, residential lighting falls in the 2000K to 6500K range. If you want a “warmer” feel, choose between 2000K to 3300K lighting options.

If you want a brighter, “cooler” light, choose between 3300K to 5000K lighting options. A lamp with 6500K mimics daylight.

The Color Accuracy Of The Lights

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a scale that measures the ability of the light to display colors accurately. Scores are out of 100, and any score of 90 and above is considered outstanding.

Trim Type Of The Recessed Lighting

The molding around the opening of the recessed light is called a trim. Therefore, your choice of recessed lighting for your sloped ceiling must be made with aesthetics in mind.

But before you choose the most decorative light on the display rack, it’s good to know what each trim does (besides looking beautiful on your sloped ceiling):

  • Baffle trim: A baffle trim typically has large grooves in its design. The grooves absorb excess light and reduce the amount of glare. Black baffles minimize glare.
  • Reflector trim: This type of trim features a reflective and smooth interior, maximizing light projection.
  • Gimbal (eyeball) trim: Inside the housing is a pivot that can move to obtain the best direction of the light.

When choosing a trim, the following applies:

  • A square trim design is an excellent choice when you want to go for a modern look
  • A bevel trim can achieve the look when you want to add a certain depth to the sloped ceiling
  • A circular design is suitable if you’re after a more classic feel
  • A flanged trim is a prominent aesthetic, while a flangeless trim will provide a sleek finish