How to Plan Recessed Kitchen Lighting The most frequently asked question regarding recessed kitchen lighting is, “What is a recessed light?” They have existed for decades. They are not a new fad, but their popularity has grown in recent years. A recessed light is a ceiling light fixture fitted into a hollow aperture in the plaster board.
They are sometimes known as “downlights.” It is a matter of personal preference to install recessed lighting in a kitchen or bathroom, or even on a staircase. When fitted correctly, recessed lighting seems to emit light from the ceiling hole. They may provide beautiful lighting effects and enhance mood.
Any recessed light fixture typically consists of three components: the bulb, its housing, and the trim. As with the housing, there are several designs of recessed lighting, and this includes the bulb type, whether it be LED, fire-resistant, or waterproof.
- When contemplating the installation of recessed kitchen lighting, the quantity of heat created by a recessed bulb should be a major consideration.
- Remember that if you need the light fittings hard-wired into the ceiling, you will need the assistance of a skilled electrician.
- How far apart should recessed lights be put in a kitchen? It depends on the size of your kitchen, the amount of available natural light, and, of course, your own opinion as to where the lights should be positioned.
Using one recessed light for every 4 to 6 square feet of ceiling space is a popular piece of advice that you may discover online or from a certified electrician. Following this “rule” will offer adequate overall illumination, neither too much nor too little.
- However, an electrician or kitchen fitting professional (one of the high street stores) will provide you further guidance on the distance, but ultimately the decision will depend on the amount of illumination you require.
- During the evening, you will rely solely on recessed ceiling lights to illuminate your kitchen living space if, for instance, you do not want ceiling pendants.
What do I need to consider for kitchen recessed lighting? As the light fixtures are always positioned downwards, recessed kitchen lighting is excellent for establishing mood and ambiance. Therefore, they must be evenly placed so that light flows easily and uniformly around the kitchen.
- Maintain a consistent spacing between the lights.
- Consequently, if your kitchen is around 10 square feet, you should place the recessed lights 5 feet apart.
- In general, the distance between the recessed lights should be half the size of the ceiling area you wish to illuminate.
- If the lights are too close together, the kitchen will be excessively bright, or shadows will appear everywhere.
The basic graphic provides a general concept of where you should install your recessed lighting. To prevent shadowing on worktops, the lights are often positioned above and a few inches behind the worktops (or breakfast bar/island). What many of downlights do I need?
- To determine the square footage of the kitchen, multiply the length by the breadth.
- Multiply by 1.5 to determine the required total wattage/lumens. Therefore, double the square footage by 1.5*
- Select your desired bulbs or downlights
- Online, we have a vast range of downlights.
- *Divide the total wattage/lumens required by the wattage/lumens of the bulb.
- Total wattage/lumens divided by bulb wattage/lumens equals required lighting.
- Open floor plans
- subdivide into smaller regions and compute separately
*Use just as a general planning reference; always contact a trained electrician How do ceiling height and downlights interact? The ceiling height might alter the amount of lumens (brightness) required. Therefore, the higher the ceiling, the brighter the recessed lighting must be.
- Low ceilings may accommodate 3 watt lights.
- Higher ceilings may require 5 watt bulbs with a higher wattage.
What is the difference between lumens and wattage?
- Lumens refer to the amount of light a bulb can produce.
- Light emitting diodes (LEDs) use less power (or energy) to generate the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs.
- This technology reduces our carbon footprint compared to what it was 10 to 15 years ago, hence saving money. We have a blog article that provides extensive information regarding the
How to Plan Kitchen Recessed Lighting by Stewart Thompson
How far should kitchen recessed lights be spaced apart?
A reasonable rule of thumb for positioning is to split the ceiling height by two. The result indicates the distance between each light. In a room with an 8-foot ceiling, for instance, the distance between each recessed light would be 4 feet.
ie.240 s.f. x 1.5 = 360. Step 3: Total wattage, divided by the bulb wattage you plan to use, ie. ( 40 watt, 60 watt, 75 watt, 100 watt etc.) = amount of total recessed lights you will need. ie.360 divided by 60 = 6 Formula: total sq. footage x 1.5 = total wattage needed.
- Total wattage divided by 60 watts (or whichever wattage you select) = total amount of recessed can lights.
- Example: 240 square foot room x 1.5 = 360 divided by 60 (the bulb wattage I’d like to use) = 6 recessed lights needed.
- Part B: Draw up a ceiling diagram (reflected ceiling plan) showing the amount of lights you need (Part A formula).
The cans / pots / recessed lights should be evenly distributed around the room, usually they are in rows with an equal number of cans in each row. Here’s a great example, the yellow dots show the recessed lights, the red dots show the pendant lights: Recessed Lighting Spacing Now we will calculate the spacing between each light. Part C: Light spacing in a row: Step 1: Pick a starting point, where do you want your most important light placed? Then arrange all the lights an equal distance from that light.
Or, if you want general lighting, start in the middle and work outwards. Step 2: Measure the length of the room in feet. Step 3: Room length divided by # of lights in that row = distance between light units in that row. Example: 20′ long room divided by 3 cans = 7’6″ between each light, note see step 4.
Step 4 : Calculating distance of lights from walls: (Note: The can lights near the wall are 1/2 the measurement between the other can lights distance. Keep each light close to 3 feet away from the walls or corners – we don’t want to cast shadows!) Don’t install recessed lighting with equal spacing between the lights and the walls. Recessed Electrical plan layout example – Jil Sonia Interior Designs Part D: T ask Lighting Layout: Task lighting is extra lighting used to highlight spaces where you need either extra light, or specialized lighting. You may want to add under cabinet lighting, or pendant lights over the island to bring the lighting closer to the work area.
How to calculate the distance and spacing for task lighting: Step 1: Determine the distance from the ceiling down to the surface you wish to light, i.e. the floor or a countertop. Step 2: Divide this distance by 4 to obtain the distance from the wall to the first light unit.I.e.8′ ceiling lights should be placed two feet away from the wall.
Part E: Wall washers recessed lighting layout: (lighting that shines down onto a wall in order to highlight art or a wall feature) Step 1 : The rule for installing wall wash recessed fixtures is approx.1.5′ to 3′ away from the wall. Step 2: Fixed lights can be placed closer to the wall.
- Step 3: Place adjustable lights farther away from the wall.
- The optimal aiming angle to minimize glare is 3 0-degrees from the ceiling, that way we avoid glare.
- Step 4: Space wall wash fixtures the same distance from each other.
- Step 5: A good rule of thumb is that your accent lighting should be 3 times brighter than the ambient light in the room.
Part F: Beam Spread There are generally 2 types of recessed lights – Spot lights and Flood lights. Spot lights have a narrow beam of light casting light to a focused area, usually these are used to highlighting art or important design elements in the room.
They cast beams 45 degrees or less. Flood lights case a wider beam on the floor area and are used for lighting larger, more general areas. They cast beams up to 120 degrees. Lighting Beam calculation: Angle of beam x 0.18 x ceiling height = Beam spread in inches. Example: 60 degrees x 0.18 x 10′ ceiling height = 108″ divided by 12 = 9′ wide beam spread.
To create overlapping beams of light for ambience, make sure that your beam spread diameter is equal to or greater than the distance between light sources fixtures. Recessed lighting installation: Now that the recessed lighting placement locations are determined, we need to find out if they can be installed in these locations. Virtual Interior design help throughout Canada and USA Ian 3/28/2019 05:49:43 pm If the ceiling drops due to central heating vents, how far from the dropped ceiling should the recessed lighting be? Great question. depending on the size of the room, I’d start the lights 2 feet from the end of the dropped ceiling. Thanks for asking. Jil – Jil Sonia Interior Dsigns Thank you for your tip to draw up a ceiling diagram to figure out where to place the recessed lighting. I have been thinking about changing the lighting structure in my home because it just feels too dark right now. I think I will get an electrician to help me with the hard parts. Thanks so much for commenting Skyler, it’s always a important to contact your electrician for help. I’m sure the added light will really make your house feel like a new home! Jil Sonia Interiors Tino Bonaccorso 11/11/2019 07:57:43 am Hi there, 13×18 room.8 foot ceilings.750 lumens recessed.40 degree beam angle. Dark floor. White ceiling. Will 3 rows of 3 lights work. I did a dry run with 3 lights and it seems insufficient. Wondering if I need equivalent on 100 w (or is that too bright?) Thank you so much for your help. Information on this page is great!!! Hi, thanks so much for your kind words and questions. With your information, I’d say 6 lights at 60 watt (equivalent) would work well. I feel 100 watt would be too strong.2 banks of 3 lights gives you 360 total watts. Always discuss this with any contractors or electricians you have as well. Happy Lighting! Jil Quentin P 12/6/2019 04:08:15 am I have a 20′ x 12′ room. I didn’t realize the 36″ rule off the walls before I laid out my lights. I spaced out 8 lights evenly in my room. So roughly 46″ left to right, 50″ front to back. Am I going to have to redo literally every one of my holes, or will I be ok? I don’t have my boxes in yet, just the holes all drilled (it a remodel). I wish I would have realized the suggested spacing 24 hours ago. Thank you! Hi Quentin, Thanks for commenting! I’m not sure what the room is for, but if you don’t need it for specific tasks, such as cooking, reading, working etc. I think you’d be OK. In a perfect world we’d start from scratch, but I live in real life and I wouldn’t bother. You might want to speak with an electrician first. Happy renovating! Jil Quentin 12/6/2019 10:40:50 am Thank you for the reply. I was hoping I’d be ok. It’s in a living room, which currently has just two, two bulb, dome lights, so I’m sure this will be way better than what we currently have. I was just worried about making weird shadows because I placed them too far away from the walls. Thanks again for getting back to me. Having someone who actually knows what they’re doing saying I’ll probably be ok makes me feel better about it. Haha Have a great weekend. OK great, yes, you should be fine if it’s in a living room. You can always play with the wattage/lumens of the bulb as well. If it’s too bright, or too many shadows, a dimmer bulb will “smooth” things out a little 🙂 Marilyn 3/6/2020 06:32:00 am Jil, So glad I found your article on lighting; it had so much helpful information! We are in the process of remodeling our basement. The old ceiling tiles have been removed from the 8′ ceiling. I would like to use NICOR 2″ recessed LED down lights for the ambient lighting and the 2″ gimbals for accent lighting. Is there any reason this wouldn’t work? Hi Marilyn, Thanks so much for commenting and for your your kind words. The 2″ gimbals for accent lighting sounds great as we use them to highlight art or a wall. Usually we use 4″ lights for the ambient (general) lighting. The 2″ might create more of a spotlight look, and a wider 4″ casts a larger, wider beam of light. So my vote would be for the 4″ light. Happy renovating! Lee Hylander 3/15/2020 07:19:28 pm We are replacing semi flush mounts with recessed lights and a hanging fixture over the table in a home with 8′ ceilings and a 20’x25′ kitchen and living room. The kitchen is on one end of the room and the living room with tv on the other end. In the cans, should I use warmer incandescent bulbs on the living room side and brighter for task lighting on the kitchen side or all the same brightness since it’s one room? Hi Lee, Great question, I’d keep the same warm colour temperature for all lights throughout. Perhaps add a dimmer to the living areas to be able to soften the light in the room. Thanks for asking! Happy Decorating. Jil Vanessa 4/6/2020 01:33:24 pm Just found your article after wondering if we made a mistake in choosing our lighting for our new house. My mom was very specific on where they were placed and chose 4 disc lights placed in a 2×2 fashion in a 14×16 kitchen with 9 feet ceilings. There are also 3 pendant lights over the island, will the kitchen be too dark from not enough disc lights available? They are spaced roughly 5 feet apart from eachother. Hi Vanessa, Thank you for commenting. That amount of recessed lighting might work well for the living room, but more light is needed for a working area, such as the kitchen. If at all possible, I’d add at least 2 more recessed lights to the area. If that isn’t possible, adding under cabinet lighting, or a small lamp in the corner of a counter will certainly help. Enjoy your new home! Jil Scott Schavrien 6/1/2020 01:11:13 pm Jil, My wife and I are currently renovating our house and are trying to figure out the lighting plan for the kitchen. The room is rectangular and for the purposes of this question I’m going to refer to cardinal directions for the walls. The N/S walls are the longer sides of the rectangle. The E/S walls are closed and will be the only walls with cabinets. The N is partially open to the dining and the W to the family. The E wall is where we will put the stove slightly offset due to an exterior door in the NE corner, with cabinets on either side. There will be an 8’x3′ island 4′ from the E wall base cabinets, length-wise in the room. The S wall will have base and upper cabinets and include the fridge in the SW corner. The island houses the sink, we have planned two pendant lights 1/3 the way down either side of the island. There is 4′ all around the island no matter if it’s from island to wall (W/N) or cabinets (S/E). We are now trying to figure out where to space 4 flush mount lights. Since the island is not centered in the room we weren’t sure if we should do 4 flush mount lights centered on the space around the island and walls/cabinets or if we should do them centered on the room. If we do it off the island all 6 lights look proper but the two closest to the family room are two feet from the threshold to that room. If we center the four flush mount on the room, they are no longer centered off the island. Sorry for the lengthy post, I was just trying to make sure you could visualize. Where do you think the best placement would be? Thank you, Scott Hi Andy, That’s a long involved question that I can’t answer on this blog. I appreciate you asking it. I do have an Ask a Designer package, that would suit you, then I could take the time necessary to make some sketches and provide you with the information you need. Let me know if this is something you’d like to proceed with. Thank you, Jil https://www.jilsoniainteriors.com/askadesigner.html Linda Law 6/17/2020 11:54:38 am We are in the planning stages of installing recessed LEDs in our kitchen / living room reno. We are experiencing some placement challenges in that we are aiming for 4 ft between lights, but this results in the lights not being centered on kitchen cabinets. Is it more important to maintain 4ft than to have centered on cabinets? We would appreciate your thoughts on how to deal with this. Hi Linda, For the kitchen the priority is to have the lighting where you need it, ie, over the sink, near the stove, over island, seating areas etc. So I wouldn’t worry about centering them on the cabinets. Thanks for asking! Felipe 7/31/2020 01:04:11 pm Hi, are you recommended distances based on the middle or the start of the hole? Hi, it’s always based on the center of the junction box, thanks for asking. Always double check with your electrician. JITENDRA RAMESHWARPRASAD SAIN 8/2/2020 09:25:03 am Thanks mam helping me out after being completed diploma in electrical engg in 1999 Jason 8/22/2020 07:19:28 pm Hey. Thank you for the very informative article! Very helpful. So I am planning a recessed lighting plan for a living room. The living room is 21’x19′. I’m trying to figure out how many lights and a good layout. I am using the Halo 5 in. and 6 in.3000K White Integrated LED Recessed Ceiling Light Fixture Retrofit Downlight Trim at 90 CRI, Soft White. The specs say it has a beam angle of 101. According to the formula above the fixture would throw a 13′ diameter circle of light on the floor.101x.18×9’=163 / 12 = 13′. Does this sounds right? Seems a bit big. Also how do I adjust the watt formula for LED? These lights are 8.1 watts and I cannot find the incandescent equivalent. Hi Jason, Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. Yes you are correct, that would provide a 13′ beam spread, which would provide a very wide beam spread, VWFL (very wide flood) is 50-120 degrees or more overall lighting. Might be better to select a light with a little more narrow of a beam spread if possible. For most household ceiling recessed lights a beam angle in the 30-40 degrees will be sufficient given the standard height of ceilings and the range, spread and number of light bulbs in the area. Note the wattage, type of bulb and colour used will also determine the beam angles available. You have a great colour of white light selected. Here’s a helpful wattage conversion chart: Incandescent Wattage/Lumens/LED Wattage 60 800 13-15 75 1110 18-25 100 1600 23-30 125 2000 22-40 150 2600 40-45 Thanks for commenting. Vahid 10/22/2021 09:41:12 pm Thanks for a great article. I found it very clear and straight forward, just wanted to comment on the wattage conversation since the new LED lights are much much more efficient. For example I have 850 lm that is using only 10.5 W but it is equivalent to 75 incandescent light. but in general your lm rating should help with deciding the number of lights. Thanks Hi, thank you for your kind words, they mean so much! Yes it’s amazing how efficient LED lights are, I’ll be writing a blog post about the conversion watts to lumens! Thanks again, Jil Brittany Manion 9/27/2020 05:52:58 pm Hey Jil, Thank you for the very informative article. I’m hoping you can give me a little further direction. I have a 63″ vanity with 2 sinks. It’s a 24″ sink base then 15″ drawer base and then another 24″ sink base. I have 9′ ceilings and my countertop height is a standard 36″. I want to use 3″ can lights over the vanity. I have a mirror that goes all the way to the ceiling and I have white walls and white countertops, so I’m hoping the mirror will help reflect the light and not cast too many shadows. The can light is 8 watts and 500 lumens, 3000k. I’d like your help to determine how many cans we need over the vanity and how we should space them. The sink is 4″ from the wall. Hi Brittany, Thanks for commenting. I certainly can help you with this. This would fall into our “Ask a Designer” package for $95. https://www.jilsoniainteriors.com/askadesigner.html Please feel free to email me at [email protected] & we’ll get started! Thanks again! Jil Whitney 9/29/2020 08:39:34 pm How far should recessed lights in a kitchen be spaced around island pendant lights? Or how does one go about inter-placing general, recessed lights with task lights (such as island pendants)? Kind thanks in advance for your advice! (My sister is a blogger so I can really appreciate all the time and energy it takes to engage with your readers. Thank you!!) Hi, thanks for commenting and hi to your sister, a fellow blogger! Thanks so much for acknowledging blogging is very time consuming too! For kitchens, I usually leave approx a 4′ wide ‘berth’ around the pendant lights. I omit the recessed lights in that area. Pendant lights are usually at eye level, as you know, so as they give off a lot of light, the recessed lights aren’t needed in that area. Thanks again for commenting! Jil Tom 11/7/2020 01:13:01 pm Hi Jill. I’m planning to install 8 recessed lights in 2 rows(4 each row) in a dining room that measures 21′ x 13′. I’m planning on using Halo h1499 series 4″ low voltage housings, originally intended for halogen lights but since I procrastinated for a number of years I intend to convert them to be LED compatible and I’ll install adjustable gimbal trims. The lights will serve a combo of accent lighting (i.e., wash walls/ highlight art sometimes and as ambient lighting at other times, depending on our decorating whims. The front/ exterior wall has three (3) windows with not quite uniform spacing between them (31″- 33″) and with differing distances from edge of the window trim to the side walls (28″ to one side wall, 31″ to the other). The rear/ interior wall is solid and the lighting configuration will follow the front wall’s, for symmetry. My question is: Is it aesthetically preferable to a.) use the formulas and install the lights with spacing based on those calculations or b.) to install the lights so they are centered on the mid-points between windows which means I’d violate the calculated spacing rules by several inches? I hope to avoid drilling a set of holes based on one of these approaches and then regretting it. Thank you for any guidance you can provide. Tom Hi Tom, Thanks for commenting. It’s challenging to comment without the specific dimensions & the floorplan, but I always go with function over esthetics. However if you can fudge it by 10″- 12″ or so to look better, that usually won’t make a difference to the function. Carrie 11/15/2020 08:10:33 am Hi Jill, We just used the information in your blog to change out inherited track lighting in our living room to pot lights. It looks great. The track lighting is also in our kitchen. It is basically a rectangle 11 x 17, so not big. One end (6 x 9) has a round kitchen table that I am planning to place a pendent over. Would placing 4, 6 inch pot lights in the working part of the kitchen ( 11 x 11) be correct? Thank you for your expertise and sharing your knowledge! Hi Carrie, I’m so glad you’ve found this post to be helpful. Without seeing the floorplan & layout, I’d try & add 2 extra pot light – as it’s a kitchen – we usually like more light there. I strongly agree, thank you for sharing. This article is very beneficial to all the readers. Great work. Elizabeth 1/15/2021 12:45:26 pm Hi Jil, Great information, thanks! My husband and I are remodeling our man cave and are planning to use recessed lighting. The room is above our garage and has a relatively low ceiling (8 feet at the apex, less than 5 feet where the roofline meets the vertical wall). The room will be painted dark (movie theater feel), and I’m struggling with how to layout the lights. How far away from the wall would you recommend for lighting a dark room with relatively low ceilings? How exciting to be building a man cave! That does sound challenging, I’d need more information, but would love to help. That question would fall into the “Ask a designer” category. $95 and would include a rough sketch with lighting placement. Let me know more, I’d love to help. https://www.jilsoniainteriors.com/askadesigner.html Joe and Kim Morgan 2/20/2021 05:11:30 am Hi Jil, Thank you for your post. Great information. Keeps it simple and concise. Is there a hard and fast rule for bedrooms or does the rule you gave apply to all rooms? We don’t have amy overhead lighting in our bed area. We use lamp lighting which is nice for subdued lighting. But there are times when we could use brighter illumination? And what about dimmers? Thank you for sharing you talents. V/R Joe and Kim Hi Joe and Kim, Thank you for commenting and for your kind words! Yes, in general bedrooms are the same technically, however due to the nature of the space, we often place more emphasize on sconces and table lamps, for reading in bed, etc. However it is nice to have one overall ceiling light for entering and exiting the room, vacuuming, etc. I’d add a beautiful chandelier, instead of recessed lights, if at all possible. Add a dimmer, then remember to add a switch near the bed to turn off, and on the light! Happy lighting! Julio Mazzarella 3/4/2021 09:02:12 am Hi Jil, This is the best guide that I’ve found on how to pick the right recessed lighting layout. My project is to put recessed lights on my study (work place).120′ SF (12′ x 6′ 1/2) so I guessed that three 40 watts 3″ to 4″ lights would do. The trick is that the ceiling’s height is 8′ only on the first 23″. After that it follows down the roof line to about 4′. There is a 4′ dormer in the middle of the room so the ceiling height is 8′ there too. My questions is: is ok. to place the recessed lights only at 10″ to 14″ from the wall? Thanks, Julio Hi Julio, Thank you so much for your kind words! I wouldn’t place those recessed lights so close to the wall, 2′ away would work though. If you can, place the 3 lights along the 8′ high ‘strip’ of ceiling, then supplement the ‘side sloped’ areas with shorter floor lamps or table lamps, that would do the trick. Thank you so much for commenting. Jil – Jil Sonia Interiors Julio Mazzarella 3/5/2021 09:36:38 am Jil, Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. I will do as you said. Julio I was happy to help, Julio. All the best, Jil John McHardy 3/28/2021 11:05:42 am Jil Your website provides the layperson with a very simplified and easy to understand guidance on pot lights – thank you ! I am building an L shaped basement rec room as per the sketch below. There are 3 windows 3 ‘ x 4 ‘ each but do not provide much light as they are under a deck. The 8‘ ceiling is completely flat (i.e. no ductwork or beams) and the entire area is open. If I understand your formula correctly I would require the following number of pot lights: 12′ x 20‘ portion = 240 sq ft X 1.5 = 360 watts / 60 watts = 6 pot lights 15’ x 12‘ portion = 180 sq ft X 1.5 = 270 watts / 60 watts = 5 (rounded) pot lights The 12 x 20 portion layout seems simple – 2 rows of 3 pots each with each row being 4 feet from the side walls and starting 5 feet from the 12 foot end wall and being 5 feet apart. The 15 x 12 portion has me a little challenged trying to layout the 5 pot lights. I am planning on using gimble mounted pots to provide as much flexibility as possible. My questions: 1. Have I applied your formula correctly to both portions of the room ? 2. Any suggestions as how to layout the 5 pot lights in the 15 x 12 portion 3. Intuitively I would think the diameter (i.e.3, 4 or 6 inch) of the light fixture could impact the illumination – is there much of a difference between 3 inch and 4 inch diameter fixtures ? I am thinking 3 inch might look better given the low ceiling.4. I have estimated the total # of watts as being 11 pots x 60 watts = 660 watts. Is this correct ? Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated !! Jil Your website provides the layperson with a very simplified and easy to understand guidance on pot lights – thank you ! I am building an L shaped basement rec room as per the sketch below (apologies for how crude it is). There are 3 windows 3 ‘ x 4 ‘ each but do not provide much light as they are under a deck. The 8‘ ceiling is completely flat (i.e. no ductwork or beams) and the entire area is open. If I understand your formula correctly I would require the following number of pot lights: 12′ x 20‘ portion = 240 sq ft X 1.5 = 360 watts / 60 watts = 6 pot lights 15′ x 12‘ portion = 180 sq ft X 1.5 = 270 watts / 60 watts = 5 (rounded) pot lights The 12 x 20 portion layout seems simple enough – 2 rows of 3 pots each with each row being 4 feet from the side walls and starting 5 feet from the 12 foot end wall and being 5 feet apart. The 15 x 12 portion has me a little challenged trying to layout the 5 pot lights. I am planning on using gimble mounted pots to provide as much flexibility as possible. My questions: 1. Have I applied your formula correctly to both portions of the room ? 2. Any suggestions as how to layout the 5 pot lights in the 15 x 12 portion ? 3. Intuitively I would think the diameter (i.e.3, 4 or 6 inch) of the light fixture could impact the illumination – is there much of a difference between 3 inch and 4 inch diameter fixtures ? I am thinking 3 inch might look better given the low ceiling.4. I have estimated the total # of watts as being 11 pots x 60 watts = 660 watts. Is this correct ? Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated !! Thanks, John 12′ – | | | | | | | 20′ | | – | | | | 12’ – 15 ‘ Hi John, Thanks so much for your kind comments. That’s quite a bit of info for me to work through. I have an “Ask a Designer” service, that is $95, those questions would fall into that category. Feel free to email me @ [email protected] If you’d like to book that service, I’d be happy to help. Thanks again! Jil – Jil Sonia Interior Designs Curtis Mears 6/16/2021 07:55:29 pm I have been doing a lot of internet searching and this is by far the best information I have found to know how much light to put in a room. Thanks so much for the free advice. I do have one question. I have a vaulted ceiling in a room I’d like to put recessed like lights. It has two angled sides and a flat center, /‐‐‐\. Based on your placement guidelines, the lights should be placed on the angled sections. I don’t think this is an issue for the thin LED wafer lights, but will this cause a lighting issue? Would your placment advice change, given this situation? Again, thanks so much for this great information, Curtis Hi Curtis, Thanks for commenting and your kind remarks. It can depend upon the angle of the ceiling. In general if it’s not too sloped, I’d keep with the general advice given above. But if it has quite a slope, I’d try and forgo the lights on the angled areas as the beam may shine into someone eyes. Perhaps use floor lamps instead for the sides and add the recessed lights to the center panel only. Great questions! Jil Andrew 8/17/2021 09:11:23 am Jill, thank you for this great information! You mentioned trying to keep recessed lights 3 ft from corners and walls. How do you advise to plan around cabinetry and appliances that jut out? Measure 3 ft from the closest point, 3 ft from the farthest point, or just split the difference? Thanks! Hi Andrew, Thanks so much for commenting and your kind words. It means so much! It’s tough to answer accurately, without seeing the plan but in general I would try and have the lights at least 10 in away from the protruding items. so in general splitting the difference may be helpful. I hope that helps somewhat! David Cant 9/22/2021 10:56:17 pm We building a home with 14ft ceilings. I would like to have recessed ceiling lighting to highlight art to be hung on the walls. Is there an LED fixture that can put a spot light at the normal height for artwork? How far from the wall would it be installed? Hi, How exciting to be building a new home. That question is too involved to answer in a blog comment. Feel free to use our Ask a Designer service, that’d be perfect for this question. https://www.jilsoniainteriors.com/askadesigner.html Thanks for reading! Danielle Beccari 12/1/2021 09:27:14 am Hello, This is a great post! Thanks for all the information! I am wondering about recessed light placement on a sloped ceiling. For general lighting where should they be placed and is it best to use flat or gimbal lights? Many thanks! Hi Danielle, Thank you for your kind comments, I’m glad you found this article helpful. For sloped ceilings, the layout is approximately the same, please use gimbles (adjustable lights) so you can direct the light beam where you want it. Happy Lighting! Jil Michael 1/18/2022 08:27:24 am Hi Jill. What a great and informative article! I noticed this was written in 2017. Has anything changed since then in the use, arrangement or the amount of recessed lights used in a home? I am completely redoing my home, and just came across some very inexpensive square, sunken baffled, 4000k recessed LED lights. Thanks so much for commenting. The design principles are the same. I’d hesitate using very inexpensive lighting Sometimes they flicker and actually affect the brain, even though we don’t actually see it.4,000K isn’t the best color of light. Feel free to contact me if you would like more help! https://www.jilsoniainteriors.com/contact.html Michael 1/19/2022 12:25:40 pm Thanks for the quick response, and for the helpful information. Is 4000 not a good color in that it is too bright or too dim? Hi, 4,000K is quite blue-ish, and not great color light for a residential. I can’t comment directly on the dimming as I don’t know the size of the room & the height, that makes a difference. Michael 1/19/2022 02:32:30 pm Once again, thanks for your quick response and expertise! Natalie 1/31/2022 07:26:55 pm I’m gearing up for lighting in a 24×12’5″ living room x dining room combo (the room slightly narrows in the dining section to about 11′) and similar size room for family room / flexible space off the kitchen. I currently have many 3inch LED 8W 3000K 45degree lights that I’d like to utilize. I will have two small sconces in living room and small chandelier in dining. How many recessed would you use and layout. Some calculations are telling me 6 per room but is that enough? The ceilings are 8feet. The lights I have are these on page 31 in this link – https://manualzilla.com/doc/7110810/thomson-lighting-thom62306-imb-led-lamp Great website. Thank you! Hi Natalie, I’m sorry, I can’t provide detailed information in these comments, but feel free to reach out to me for a lighting consult, I’d love to help you. https://www.jilsoniainteriors.com/contact.html Hi, just wanted to let you know that the font on your awesome article is showing up SUPER small while the comments are nice and legible for the over 50 crowd like me LOL. Love your website. Melanie 3/28/2022 01:21:33 pm Working on a 16×24 living room addition. I want to use recessed lighting as the general lighting for the room. Room will have a 12′ sloped ceiling. On one of the 16′ ends will be a rock fireplace with a hand hewn mantle that I want to highlight. How many lights will I need, what should spacing be, and how would I space the end with the fireplace? Hi Melanie, I’m sorry, I can’t provide a lighting layout in the comments, feel free to contact me if you want to hire me, I’d love to help. Jim 4/12/2022 09:44:20 am Hi Jil! I found your page searching while trying to solve a design problem, because in your diagram, it looks as though you spec’d different sizes for counter and area lights. I have been thinking of doing 1″ over counter (plus under-cabinet to avoid shadows) and 4″ area lighting. Is this what you intended to portray? I haven’t been able to find much discussion or examples about this. On the one hand I feel like this would visually distinguish the two lighting zones, with the smaller ones making the counter feel like a “work zone”, and also avoid the feeling of larger lights being crowded against the edge of the room. Further, my wife is worried about too many lights on the ceiling, and I thought the smaller size might minimize their visual presence over the counter. On the other hand I am worried the different lights would feel out of place. Just curious what you think – is this a faux pas? Hi Jim, That’s a great question, thanks for asking! In a nutshell, no, I wouldn’t suggest different sized lights in the ceiling. Those smaller lights were to indicate the area for the under cabinet lights. (I’ll actually change the photo, I see it is confusing). The only different lighting I’d use would be pendants, over the island or peninsula, or a flush or semi flush light over the sink. I think a 3-4″ recessed light throughout the ceiling would work best for your situation. Thanks for commenting! Jil Anne 4/20/2022 01:51:22 am I am currently trying to light a living room that currently has zero ceiling lights. It is so dark and shadowy. The room is 20X20 and it also opens up to a dining area divided only by a fireplace. We have a couch and love seat in front of the fireplace, so I don’t think we really need any task lighting, but I would like to put one larger centrepiece light that hangs into the middle of the living room set. The ceilings go from 16 feet down to 8 feet? So there is a huge angle only to one side. It is not like some where they are vaulted in the middle. What are your suggestions with the weird angles? Hi Anne, thanks for reading & commenting. It’s challenging to comment without seeing your furniture layout, remember we light living areas, not general rooms. But in general, I’d ensure the light I choose was adaptable for slanted ceilings and place it where it’s needed. Often hanging lights are better for higher ceilings as they bring the light down to where it’s needed. Chris 7/3/2022 07:40:51 pm Hi Jil, Kiddo wants a basement room for college.25′ by 10′. LED pot lights seem like a good space saver. The problem is the ceiling is only 6 feet 8. Rule of thumb is divide height by 2 to avoid shadows. That’s only 3 feet 4 inches.18 pot lights is way to bright. Maybe 10 if I can find some dim ones like 400 lumens? No shadows is the secret of basement lighting but I don’t want it to be lit up like a soccer pitch. What is the sweet spot when you have a low ceiling? Thanks, Chris Hi Chris, I wouldn’t advise putting pot lights / recessed lights in a low ceiling, they’d be too close to peoples heads. Instead, I’d use wall sconces, floor lamps, & table lamps to add lighting. If there is a dining room or kitchen with a peninsula or island, then pendant lights would work well, I’d selected ones with an opaque shade so the light isn’t right in your eye. Marcia 9/23/2022 06:58:17 am Hi Jil, Finally some detailed information on arranging ceiling lights! My house is 200 years old, dark, 8 foot ceilings. The living room is 21′ x 17’. I planned on 3 rows of 3, 4″ lights. The debate is over wafer lights versus recessed lights. It seems wafers are too bright for some areas, and cause glare, but are good for task lighting, But recessed lights might give a more subdued cosy light more suitable for a living room. What do you think? Also, do you think spacing calculations are unsuitable for wafers and may result in more light than needed. Many thanks. Hi Marcia, Thanks for your kind comments and for reaching out. How wonderful to have a 200 year old home! I’m sure it comes along with challenges, but I just love the sense of history. I have 2 thoughts about this.1. If you are trying to keep to the vintage look of the home, we’d just use floor & table lamps or go with any existing lighting and use chandeliers or pendants, no recessed or wafer lights.2. If we want to keep things practical, I certainly understand we need lights to function for modern life, either recessed cans or wafer lights would work. If you can access to above the ceiling and install the recessed light housings in the plaster ceiling, they do provide the softest, more pretty, non glaring light. If you can’t access above the ceiling, then we’d go with the wafers, you are right they are a little ‘stronger’ in their brilliance, as they aren’t recessed, but they can be dimmed. If at all possible I’d go with the recessed lights combined with table & floor lamps, if not then wafer lights are your best option. Let us know how it goes! Thank you so much for such a great article on lighting! You covered every room for me and now I know exactly how much lighting I need in every space. Thanks William, I’m glad you found the recessed lighting article helpful! Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Do recessed lights require uniform spacing?
The objective of general lighting is to illuminate a whole space or area uniformly. The recessed lighting should be evenly distributed and positioned across the ceiling. Resist the desire to position the lights according to the room’s items (such as furniture).