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Baffle vs Open

Recessed lighting has become a dominant and significant type of lighting in recent decades and for good reason.

Recessed lights can be recognized by their minimalist appearance and the rather small stature that sits flush with the ceiling and sometimes with the wall. 

This aspect has made recessed lights a favorite of many, especially in the modern-day aesthetic favored by the younger generations who have a penchant for wider airy spaces with very discerning decor.

Aside from the aesthetic that recessed lights offer, they do come with a few other advantages such as the fact that they are only compatible with certain energy-saving bulbs which brings down the overall cost of energy and power in the home and in the workplace.

They tend to last very long and many of these fixtures often have a life expectancy of over 20,000 hours before they are too dim to deliver sufficient lighting.

While traditional lighting fixtures still have their place in the hearts of many consumers, a great many more are investing in the change from traditional forms of lighting to recessed lighting.

One of the many aspects you have had to contend with is the kind of trim that you would like to have with your recessed lighting and which would be the best fit for you.

 Baffle vs Open

There are a number of trims available, baffle trims and open trims being two of the most common trims on the market.

The main difference between the two trims is the structure of both trims. Baffle trims are often wide but the light sits fairly deep into the cavity of the trim and the inner surface of the trim is ribbed as decoration.

The open trims are less flamboyant. The trim is not as wide as the baffle trim and even when it is, the light within is not settled deep into the cavity of the trim.

Open trims are the most common kind of trim since they are both effective and economical, particularly for multiple fixture construction needs such as an office building or a commercial property.

Baffle vs Open Trims: Which is better?

With either trim what will ultimately inform your pick should be the needs of your lighting project. Both are excellent options. The following considerations should make your decision easier.

  • Aesthetic
  • The function of the lighting 
  • Cost


Lighting is the central feature of any room and the lighting fixture is the embodiment of the kind of lighting in your home or your workplace. 

Though this is a subjective consideration, it is clear that baffle trims are made with better decorative features compared to the open trim which is a plain fixture.

In an office space or any other workplace, the aesthetic quality offered by baffle trims is fairly unnecessary and would likely go unnoticed especially since the placement of lighting fixtures in commercial areas is meant to create the most optimal working environment and not a distraction.

In some cases, personal or more intimate workplaces may be served better by decorative lighting and baffles are an acceptable choice. 

Spas, personal offices, restaurants, high-end social places, salons, bridal shops, barbershops, gaming areas, reading areas, and daycare centers among others often sport baffles instead of open trims.

Open trims have a much more practical plain look and are suitable for areas where aesthetics are not paid attention to. 

Large offices with multiple users such as customer care floors, hospital rooms, and halls, car parking lots, classrooms, laboratories, malls, large supermarkets, and restaurants among others are a few places where the decorative trim is not a priority nor will they attract any attention or admiration.

Open trims also fit fairly well with any decor so if there is doubt as to whether a trim is a good fit, the safer option here would be the open trim.

The Function of the Lighting

Baffle trims feature a bigger and ribbed cavity which means the beam of light they produce can be fairly reduced in both brightness and size. 

Open trims on the other hand sit flush with the ceiling and offer a wider beam with greater brightness so this should be a consideration also.

Despite this, the difference in the overall performance regardless of the size of the beam and the intensity of the brightness is quite small. 

For those who have a high sensitivity to the intensity of light, baffle trims should fit their needs but for most people, the difference may be too small to notice.

A good example is a kitchen where light is important and intense light is a good choice but aesthetics make baffle trims an even better fit. 

In most instances, the difference between the kitchen’s lighting and that in the living room is instantly visible but does not make any difference functionally.

Bedroom lighting can be accented using baffles since lighting here is intended to create the ambiance associated with lazy relaxation and rest. 

Smaller less intense beams also serve to induce sleep for most people so baffle trims and fewer bulbs are an excellent choice.


Cost is always a consideration when installing or choosing any feature or aspect of lighting. 

If you have to pick a trim for multiple lighting fixtures, you need to keep in mind that baffle trims will cost more than open trims. 

In a larger room, you must install more lighting fixtures in order to sufficiently light up the place. 

If you choose to go with baffle trims then the cost of the lighting project will go up. Not only do they cost more but you may have to incur extra if the placement of baffle trims demands extra lighting fixtures in order to light a room properly. 

If you go wrong on this particular issue or underestimate the number of fixtures needed, you risk creating unseemly dark spots that can only be fixed by getting more fixtures to add light.

When cost is not a consideration, baffle trims can be stunningly beautiful when installed perfectly.