Purchasing Guide to Surface Mounted Downlight

When comes to interior design projects, you need to bear in mind that lighting is one of the most critical aspects of your design. It could greatly determine whether there is sufficient lighting for your daily activities. However, looking through the whole lighting market, a variety of recessed downlights is presented. In this post, the author would introduce one of the most popular products----surface mounted downlight to help you get a further understanding of downlight.

What is Surface Mounted Downlight?

Surface mounted downlights are an alternative to recessed down lights that are mounted on the ceiling surface. Because of the easy installation and maintenance, this type of downlight fixture is widely used in residential and commercial buildings.

What Are the Parts of Surface Mounted Downlight

The surface downlight is composed of the metal housing, reflector, socket, thermal sensor, trim, etc.
Metal Housing: the metal housing is made of thin metal, containing a bulb and other electrical components such as a reflector, thermal sensor, and socket. 

●Reflector: The reflector is the shiny surface on the inverted canister. It is usually white or silvery. The main purpose of the reflector is to help direct the light from the bulb into the room. You also could use the gimbal cone to change the direction of the beam and surface mounted downlights dimmable
●Socket: The socket is the tower between electricity and the led surface downlight

●Thermal sensor: The thermal sensor is a safety device used for preventing overheating and keeping the downlight fixture’s temperature under the dangerous point by shutting off the light.

●Trim: The trim is used for covering the metal housing and hiding the ceiling drywall. 

What Is the Difference Between Recessed and Surface Mounted?

As above mentioned, surface mounted downlights are the alternative to recessed down lights. However, there are a few differences between them. In the following sections, the author will illustrate where they are different.

Installation Methods

Recessed light, also called recessed downlight or can lights, are a type of recessed luminaire installed into the ceiling or wall. They are designed to sit flush with the surface of the ceiling or wall to ensure a sleek and polished finish. The hidden housing and electrical wiring components make the bulb appears to glow from within the opening.
Then the surface mounted downlights are directly installed on the surface, so it is more evident on the ceiling.

Installation Difficulty

First, because of the recessed design, the recessed light downlight requires more time to be installed in the ceiling to ensure a layout that works well aesthetically while not interfering with the structure. Second, whether new construction or remodeling, downlight fixtures must be installed between floor joists. This makes it more challenging sometimes to get the light laid out symmetrically and effectively. Third, Installing recessed lights needs more labor to run the wire from junction box to junction box.


Aesthetics is always a focus in house decoration. And, these two types of lighting fixtures creates different styles of the house. The recessed downlight indoor tends to provide you with a clean and simple surface. And, the surface mounted downlights prefer to help you create a modern lighting space. 


The cost always is an important factor in every project, which may take an amount of the budget you use. Therefore, it is necessary to make a comparison between a led surface mounted downlight and a recessed light downlight. To let you deeply understand the difference between them in the price. We assume that we need to set the lighting layout of the 10′ x 10′ basement room. Under this size of space, 1 surface-mounted light fixture or around four recessed luminaires is required at least. ( it may need five or six led recessed downlights to make it bright)


Recessed lighting may be one of the useful lighting solutions for your house. The downlight fixture act as an ambient light provider and task light provider. The surface downlight also developed various styles to fit the various style of house design.