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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, all. I've recently started my theater build. Haven't got all the design elements figured out yet, but I really like the look of many of the rooms I've seen here that have soffits with low-level lighting recessed in the bottom. I'm having trouble finding suitable lights for this purpose. I've tried a small (about 2" lens) 3W LED light, but I'm afraid even that may be too bright if I have several of them (on a dimmer).

What type of lighting would you guys recommend to give a nice low light level, and where's a good source? They don't have to be LED, if another type works better. Also, what kind of dimmers do you use? Of the ones I've tried, they either don't dim the LED's much at all, or they dim well, but the lights go out before they are dim enough. (I actually had the best result from a non-LED certified dimmer, and the worst from an LED-certified one.)

Thanks for any suggestions.
Jack
 

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It's all in the dimming. Many people use regular 4" or 6" can lights in the soffits. It's also popular to use LED lights these days, but you have to find a combination of LED bulb and dimmer that both dims well (i.e. down to at least 10% before turning off) and doesn't make an audible buzz when dimming. There are a lot of different dimmers out there, but you'll find most on here are automated. I use Insteon, for example, and many people use the Grafik Eye. I use Cree LED bulbs because I have found that they have the best, most even color, dim very well with my Insteon dimmer switches, and don't buzz. YMMV.

There are basically two type of bulbs for can lights...the typical shaped BR30 flood lights, like this:


Or a specialized can light bulb and trim replacement like this:


If you don't want to deal with LED, regular incandescent flood or spot bulbs will work just fine with virtually any dimmer in these types of fixtures. They will be hotter, have to be replaced, and use more energy, but that's the trade-off.

As you've learned, it sounds like, not all bulbs are dimmable, or dimmable well, so do some research and testing. Good luck.
 

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This month I used the fixture I've used a dozen times, the 4 inch Utilitech remodel can from Lowes for around $20, We threw away the free halogen bulbs that came with the fixture and replaced with LED MR16 with GU10 base bulbs. The exact bulb is described in the Bacon Race theater thread. We have them on Insteon dimmers and they work just fine. Get the right size hole saw and these are a breeze to install.

the only light in this room is a perimeter of 16 of these LED lights. Be sure to wash the screen for the greatest light output and have those on a separate circuit. they come with 50 watt bulbs and 800 watts of light gives off a lot of heat, I think the LEDs are 6 or so watts. Much better.



http://www.lowes.com/pd_289424-53058-9201101_0__?productId=1241365&Ntt=utilitech+4+inch+reccessed+light&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dutilitech%2B4%2Binch%2Breccessed%2Blight&facetInfo=



We painted the baffle black with high temp black BBQ grill paint.
 

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Hi BIGmouthinDC,

The recessed light kit that you have linked above, will that also take a LED bulb with 240V input? Building a new home in few months time and looking at LED''ng the whole house. I can source the LED MR16 or GU10 base bulbs in 240V in New Zealand/Australia easy but decent light kits are hard to come by. Will this one work fine with 240V line voltage? Also aren't MR16 and GU10 different type connectors on the bulb but you described them together? I must be missing something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the suggestions! Now more research and perusing theater pics, and maybe I can decide on what I want.

Jack
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
BIG - I may be thinking of this all wrong. Would you typically leave these soffit lights on while watching movies or whatever, or are they turned completely off? I guess my thought was that these lights would provide a low-level of room light, rather than sitting in a completely dark room (dark other than the light from the projector.) I also plan to have some sconce lighting in the room; maybe those would provide the low-level lighting.

Thanks,
Jack
 

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when a movie is on you have enough light bouncing off the screen to give a low level light in the room, In my theater it is pretty much all lights off. Even the ending credits give off enough light in a pitch black room to find your way around.
 

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Would you typically leave these soffit lights on while watching movies or whatever, or are they turned completely off? I guess my thought was that these lights would provide a low-level of room light, rather than sitting in a completely dark room (dark other than the light from the projector.) I also plan to have some sconce lighting in the room; maybe those would provide the low-level lighting.
More light sources on more circuits give you a ton more flexibility for the theater... The can lights are easily left on during the movie as they don't cast much light onto the screen - and having lots of fixtures means you can dim them way down but still illuminate a path. You'll find a lot of the folks here will have 4-6 lighting circuits or more for the room to allow for this type of flexibility.

Sconces are generally problematic while the screen is in use as most styles will throw light across the room (and therefore onto the screen).

If you intend to be able to do anything else in the room while watching (aka reading the paper), make sure you have separate lighting 'zones' above the seating area.

Jeff
 
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