"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
Home Page
About Us
Fireplace/Wood Stove
Heating and Cooling
Windows and Doors
Soffit lights. Soffit lighting systems

You can increase the amount of down lighting or wall washing effect by placing the soffit lights closer to the house

Soffit Lights


Need more information?
Use our search box
Soffit lights. Soffit lighting systems.
Soffit lights are recessed into the soffit so they are basically flush with the soffit surface. When this type of fixture is used indoor it is better known as "pot light" (Canada) or "can (canister) light" and "high-hats" (USA). These down light fixtures can have a narrow cone shaped light beam (spot light) or a wide angle beam (flood light).
Soffit lights can dramatically change the look of your home at night, improve curb appeal and add a degree of security. Soffit lighting may even increase property value! The most commonly used sizes are 4, 5 and 6 inches in diameter.
Lighting types
Low voltage LED soffit lighting systems have several benefits such as long bulb life, generate little heat and consumes very little energy (a 1.5 watts bulb consumes around 60 cents per year!).
In line (120 volt) soffit light systems with 50 watt halogen bulbs are very effective and powerful. They can be very cost effective as well when on/off cycles are controlled by a timer equipped with a dusk-to-dawn light sensor.
Potential fire hazard
Some older recessed soffit light fixtures can generate a significant amount of heat and when insulation comes in contact with a fixture that is not IC (insulation contact) rated there is a potential fire hazard. If you purchased an older home have a certified electrician check out your soffit lights to determine the age, fixture rating, bulb type used and whether or not the soffit lighting system should be upgraded.
In northern climates check the roof. If there is snow on the main roof but not on the section directly above the soffit you may have a potential problem with overheating soffit lights.

Best time to install soffit lights
Installation of fixtures and wiring is pretty straightforward during new construction or when it is time to replace or upgrade soffits and fascia boards. The installation of soffit lights at any other time can be a real challenge and is not recommend. It is almost impossible to secure the fixtures, run wires and locate framing members such as rafter or truss tail ends.

Fixture rating - IC
Home improvement centres are selling complete soffit recessed lighting systems which are not IC (insulation contact) rated because there is no insulation in the soffit area. However, IC rated fixtures must be installed wherever insulation will be in direct contact with the light fixture such as in ceilings below insulated attics.
Available soffit space
Soffit space is determined by roof pitch and soffit width (overhang). Mini soffit recessed lights should be used for roofs which have narrow soffits and a roof pitch of 4/12 or less.

Back to Index Outdoors
Back to Index Electrical