A can light is a light which is enclosed in a cylinder, directing all of the light through one end of the cylinder to create a very focused, bright beam. There are a number of settings in which can lights can be used, and many hardware and home supply stores carry several can lighting options for people to choose from. These lights are ideal for task lighting, focused lighting, or situations in which it is desirable to reduce light pollution as much as possible.
Some can lights are designed to be installed as recessed lighting, in which case the canister is built into a ceiling or wall so that the light does not project into the room. Recessed can lighting provides a very direct beam of light, and can be especially useful for rooms with low ceilings, kitchens, and workspaces where bright task lighting might be desired. Can lighting of this style may also be used to create atmospheric lighting, with the beams playing across a wall or ceiling.
These lights can also be suspended as overhead lights. This can be used to create a desired aesthetic effect, or in a structure where existing light fixtures are to be replaced with can lights. Rather than installing a recessed light, which can be costly and time-consuming, a suspended can light can be installed in just a few minutes. People may decorate the cans for extra visual interest, or use cans with punched-out patterns which create a lacy lighting effect.
Outdoors, a can light can be ideal for providing light at night without creating light pollution. The focused beam can be used to illuminate a specific area without allowing light to leak into the sky. This makes stars more visible, and also means that the light is less likely to irritate the neighbors, since the light can be focused on the ground, with no leaks into bedroom windows. These lights can also be used as atmospheric lighting in outdoor settings.
Stage lighting is often accomplished with specialized can lights which can be focused, used with special lenses, and modified with filters which change the color of the light. The use of can lights for the stage is preferred, since the canister prevents light leakage, ensuring that the light can be focused and directed to a particular spot on the stage, and that when the can light is activated, light leakage does not ruin the desired lighting effect.