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LED Soffit Lighting | Everything You Need To Know

Outdoor LED soffit lighting is such a beautiful way to light up your home that we use it on all of our projects and recommend it to our clients. Recessed soffit lighting is a hot new trend that provides the same sleek look you’ve been seeing indoors for years on the exterior. Old fashioned recessed fixtures haven’t been great for use in a soffits because of their height, weight, and overall bulk. However because of an LED’s smaller size they work perfectly and retrofits on older homes and a breeze.

Exterior LED soffit lights are simply beautiful to see at night. They provide just the right amount of ambience lighting that creates a look you just can’t match with other exterior home lighting. There’s plenty of different options on the market for exterior lighting and we suggest a mix of them all. Spot lights work great at lighting the property with a very bright light. Up lighting washes walls and highlights landscaping from the ground up. Wall sconces provide light around doorways and garages. And steps, walkway and landscaping lights do their thing on the ground. But up high at roof level, there’s nothing quite like recessed soffit lighting. It’s a look all it’s own.

Recessed LED Soffit Lights Have So Many Benefits

LED recessed soffit lights, also known as LED can lights, are popular for so many reasons. They’re a great solution for homes that shine brighter using less power which saves money. LED’s typically have a higher luminous intensity than traditional lighting systems. They meet a large number of lighting requirements and they offer a quick and easy way to reduce the energy consumption of your home. Switching to LEDs just makes sense when you sit down and do the math.

Exterior LED’s provide more than enough illumination for ambient, accent and overall home lighting. Today LED’s are found in modern buildings, offices, lounges, schools, homes and even public spaces.

LED recessed lights install in circular openings in the soffit. They can produce light as narrow spotlights or as broad floodlights and at different levels producing whatever effect you’d like. And high quality LED recessed lights produce light that renders colors better than fluorescent lamps so whatever you shine the light on will look that much better.

These lights are made up of two main parts: the housing and the trim. The housing is the unit that installs inside the soffit and holds the LED lamp. They come in a variety of sizes with different sized bulbs.

The trim is the part of the light that’s visible. It’s what you see around the bulb when you look at the fixture. Trims come in different designs to fit different applications and styles.

Advantages Of LED Soffit Lighting

Many LED soffit lights have a tough glass covering and a metal fitting. Thanks to well crafted lenses they’re efficient and have excellent beam spread. This is great because you can adjust the light when you install it to have different effects. Some clients like ambient spread lighting and some want a beam.

Saving energy and therefore money is a big benefit of LED soffit lights. They can use up to 85% less energy than traditional lighting sources. The bulbs come in different lumen outputs, color temperatures, and sizes. Since LEDs are more efficient than HIDs and fluorescents, they generate very little heat which is always a good thing.

The minimum lifespan of LED soffit lights is 20 times that of conventional lights. This means bulb replacements will be minimized and lighting maintenance will be lowered. The average LED recessed soffit light lasts around 11 years when used for 12 hours a day. This is a huge plus when dealing with soffit lighting because believe me you do not want to change soffit lights that often.

LED soffit lighting is a cost-effective, versatile, and efficient solution to your industrial and commercial needs. It provides bright, sufficient light without decreasing the appeal of an application.

Make sure you get the best lighting design for your location. Work with the best lighting designers. We are here to help. With over 10 years experience in LED lighting solutions, you can rest assured that your project is in good hands.

LED Soffit Lighting Is Water Resistant

A good recessed LED lighting fixture should be UL Listed and rated for use in damp or wet environments like your outdoor soffits. As long as the fixture is covered by roof above, which is exactly what the soffit does, then your good to go. The fixture itself must remain dry, so as long as your roof doesn’t leak, you should never have a problem with the light due to water. All the parts that have to stay dry are protected inside the soffit.

If your retrofitting an older homes with recessed LED lighting you should verify that there are no water leaks before doing your install.

recessed outdoor LED soffit lighting

Light Switches And Dimming

You can control your soffit lights with multiple switches in zones or one main switch. It’s entirely up to you. While running a lot of old fashioned incandescent lights can be too much load for a single switch, LEDs have much lower power consumption so it’s not a problem. This is just one more reason why LED is the way to go for your exterior lighting. While I actually prefer having my lights controlled by multiple switches it’s nice to have the option.

What I recommend to our clients is one switch for the front lights, one for the sides and one for the rear. We also include a master switch that turns them all off and on controlled by a programmable timer. This way they all come on every night just before dark.

Dimmer switches are also something we recommend and really like. Some times you want your soffit lights to put out max lighting to really light up the property. Other times you just want a little extra ambient lighting. With a dimmer switch you have the option to change the amount of light your getting from the soffits as you see fit. We also always over spec the bulbs. In other words we put more power than you think you’ll need so it’s there if you ever want it. Ideally the lights should run at have dim so you can adjust the lighting up or down as needed.

UL Listed Recessed Lighting

Make sure you buy a recessed lighting fixture that’s UL Listed which means it’s held to the highest standard of quality and safety. All of our customers are homeowners who want the highest quality and reliability in their outdoor lighting products. Especially when they’re up so high. Believe me, you don’t want to have an issue with a recessed lighting fixture that’s 30′ in the air. It’s hard to work up there so install the highest quality fixtures you can get. It really does make a big difference. We’ve never had a single problem with any of the recessed soffit lighting we’ve only installed high quality fixtures and so should you.

Another issue aside from the lights working is safety. UL lighting products are tested for safety which in this case means fire. The last thing you want is something happening inside the fixture that causes a fire because of poor manufacturing.

outdoor LED soffit lighting in a custom home

LED Soffit Lights Are Green

LED Green Technology. Using outdoor LED soffit lights will save energy, which means money, over the lifetime of the product. LED lights require up to 80% less energy than traditional lighting which can add up to a big savings. Because soffit lighting is usually made up of a lot of fixtures spaced out evenly all around the house it can add up to a lot of bulbs and a lot of savings.

LED Soffit Lights Are Durable

Long lasting and durable. Buy exterior LED soffit lights that are waterproof, weatherproof, and salt air resistant if you live by salt water. Make sure the housing is made of Alodine coated aircraft grade aluminum or some other metal that’s resistant to the elements.

And make sure you get a good warranty. The outdoor LED recessed soffit lights we install for out clients comes with a limited 10 year / 30 year warranty and we’ve never had an issue.

LED Lighting Saves Space

Recessed LED lighting fixtures save space. One of the biggest benefits of LED soffit lighting is that the housing takes up less space inside the soffit than old fashioned incandescent lighting but gives off just as much light. Soffit lights can give off a subtle glow or be powerful enough to light up the entire exterior. And because the bulb is so much smaller the trim kits are too. In other words the round trim that the bulb sits in is much smaller than with regular recessed soffit lighting. It’s a really nice, clean, modern look.

Recessed Lighting Accentuates Objects

Recessed lighting can accentuate objects. Soffit lights can create a soft glow or a strong light beam that shines on a particular area of the house. Recessed LED soffit lights are usually hidden in plain sight because of how small they are and don’t draw much attention to themselves. You can use these fixtures to highlight particular areas of the home at night without being noticed in the day.

Wall Washing

Exterior recessed LED soffit lighting makes a great wall wash. Since soffit lights shine down from the highest point on the wall they can emphasizes vertical features which tends to expand things visually. This form of lighting is a staple in art galleries, hotels, and museums for good reason. It draws attention to architectural details while making a statement.

Wall washing is an easy way to create a dramatic effect on the exterior of your home. The simple technique illuminates a flat wall creating a distribution of light from ceiling to floor. Highlighting a smooth, large and vertical surface.

To create the perfect wall wash effect, soffit lighting fixtures should have correct spacing from each other and from the wall and be the right strength. Get some help when laying out your lights if your going for this effect. You don’t want the lights too close together or light beams will cross. You also want a strong enough beam to light down the wall as far as you’d like to go. Some clients only want to wash a couple feet of wall but others want from ceiling to floor. And lastly, the lights can’t be too close or too far away from the wall or they’ll shine too much or too little light on the wall.

In many applications, designers use a ratio of 1:1 when laying out LED soffit lights. If the lights are 4 inches in diameter, a space of 4 feet is left between them. If they’re 6 inches, they install 6 feet apart on center. This spacing provides ambient light that’s soothing and not over bright.

It’s tough to get it all figured out and installed perfectly but when you do it’s a beautiful look.

Outside LED Soffit Lights Enhance Details

Accentuate architectural details with soffit lighting. Soffit lighting works very well at highlighting architectural details at night. Have you ever gone to an expensive restaurant, museum, hotel or monument. They use a combination of lighting effects to highlight building details. You can do the exact same thing on your home.

Soffit lights are versatile and can adjust lighting conditions as need. Whether you want to spot light a specific part of the house or add ambient lighting to the entire thing, soffit lighting is a great option. And because of where the soffit lights are located it’s a very specific type of lighting effect that can’t be mimicked by other types of lighting fixtures.

Soffit lights withstand the ever changing home lighting trends and never seam to go out of style because they’re never been considered trendy or mainstream. In the past they’ve generally been used on high end custom homes and estates but because of the mass production of LEDs bringing costs down any homeowner can use them.

Soffit Lights Makes Great Security Lighting

If you’re anything like me, you like having some basic security lighting but don’t want outdoor flood lights under eaves all around your house. They’re really big, ugly and obnoxious when they click on. I want a well lit home at night but I don’t want it looking like a prison.

Instead, recommend a combination of outdoor lighting to our clients that includes recessed soffit lights under the eaves for a clean, unobtrusive security light source. Soffit lights provide more than enough exterior lighting while looking really good and showcasing the home at night. And because they’re so small you can’t really see them during the day which I like much better than a huge flood light hanging off the house.

And, as a bonus, the LED bulbs we recommend to our clients only use 5.5 Watts a piece. Even if you leave them on all night they only use 0.044 kWh/day. At a cost of $0.12/kWh, that’s a total yearly cost of $1.92.

I think anyone can work that into their budget for a really upscale look and some added security.

LED Soffit Lighting Provide Security

In a study conducted at UNC Charlotte Department of Criminology surveying convicted criminals, exterior lights were found to be effective as a deterrent for burglars. That sounds like common sense to me. If I were a burglar I’d definitely head for the dark home on the block over the well lit one.

Plus, it makes walking into the house at night easier for everyone. They’re always on so you don’t have to worry about leaving the light on for someone who’s out of coming home to a dark house if you forgot to leave the light on. And, they look really great too.

LED Soffit Lights Can Change Color

If you want the option of changing your soffit lighting color at the flick of a switch then consider RGB LED soffit lights with a color changing feature. This allows you to set the mood and accentuate the exterior of your home with different colors whenever you want.

Keep in mind, color changing LEDs require a separate RGB or RGBW controller for DC LED lighting. In other words it’s a special LED light that can change color, not every recessed LED can do it. Make sure you buy the right light if you want this effect.

It’s not a feature most people use every day but some clients love having this option during the holidays.

recessed led soffit lighting on a modern home with real wood soffits

IC Rating

Look for a soffit light fixture that comes with what’s called an IC rating. This means it’s rated for direct contact with insulation. It’s a big plus since your attic is most likely insulated. LEDs generate less heat than incandescent bulbs so fire isn’t as much an issue but it can still happen so make sure the can your light sits in is safe. Safety is a huge concern for us as builders and it should be for you too.

Retrofit LED Soffit Lighting Kits

If you’ve already got the old style incandescent recessed can fixtures installed in your soffit you can swap them out for better equipment. LED is a much better lighting technology than what’s been used in the past and it’s not that hard to make the change. The good news in you can still use all the existing wiring and switches.

If you don’t have any soffit lighting these LED kits will still work for you although you’ll have to run all new rough wiring and switches.

Manufacturers even have a selection of products designed to plug into a standard E27 bulb socket. These mount into your existing soffit lights with no additional wiring required. You basically just plug them in and that’s it. The installation is super easy. These kits are typically more expensive than and not as good as buying a complete recessed light fixture but it’s a lot easier to do. They offer the same great LED power savings and lifespan.

Angled & Sloped Soffits

Lighting manufacturers make recessed lighting kits that can be angled to compensate for the sloped soffit. They only work to a certain extent though and have limited angles of adjustment. If your roof is pitched really high then they won’t do much. However if your roof isn’t too steep you may want to check them out. They can angle downward slightly so all your lights can pint in the same direction. Otherwise the soffit lights in these areas will shine light on an angle.

Outdoor LED Soffit Lighting Kits

You can buy a complete kit of outdoor recessed LED lighting that comes with everything you need. The kits include all the housing, trim kits, bulbs, wiring and even include an LED Transformer. All you need is some additional wiring for the switches. You can do it all yourself but we’d highly recommend hiring an electrician. The work’s up high and dangerous. And any electrical work should be done by a pro in our opinion.

LED recessed lighting kits are pretty affordable. The one we routinely buy is around $275 bucks for 8 lights and that’s around what you should pay if you buy a kit.


Outdoor LED soffit lighting is a great feature to have if you’ve got the right home and budget. Sure, they technically do the same thing as any outdoor lighting will but they do it in such a beautiful way that’s it’s worth the investment. Soffit lighting will light up your home in ways that no other exterior lighting can match, and when combined with a total outdoor lighting design, can really do great things.

This list is filled with some of our favorite pics of soffit lighting and we hope a few of them inspire you to create something spectacular. Check back, we update these pages with new pics all the time as we get them. If you’ve got any pics you’d like us to showcase send them over.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail us any time.

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