Recessed Lighting; what you need to know

Figuring out the best placement of recessed lighting is the trickiest part of developing a lighting plan. I take professional development lighting classes every opportunity I get because there is so much to know, and products are continuously advancing. It can get quite complicated with math formulas to figure out lumens needed, the rooms reflectance value, and the correct color of light to use. It is a design element that needs serious attention. Great lighting has been scientifically proven to help us feel happier, relax easier and focus clearly.

How many recessed lighting cans are needed per square foot? 

The rule of thumb to figure out a lighting layout is to place fixtures 5′-6′ apart. Using this standard a 12′ x 16′ room would need six recessed cans. But with Interior Design, nothing is that easy. That calculation can only provide a starting point. Many factors have to be considered to determine how many recessed cans are needed in a room.  

  • type of room 
  • ceiling height
  • room reflectance
  • beam angle from the fixture

The type of room matters because certain rooms require more light. For example, you need more light in a kitchen than you do in a bedroom. The ceiling height makes a huge difference. Just adding 2 feet to your ceiling height can double the amount of light needed. Room reflectance has to do with how the light bounces off the surfaces in the room. A white-walled room will require fewer recessed cans than a room painted a dark color. Kitchens with light countertops will require fewer recessed cans than those with dark countertops. The last factor is the beam angle emitted from the fixture. The wider the beam, the more area the light will cover.  

To make sure you have adequate lighting and not too much lighting, use the general standard, adjust according to the other factors mentioned and READ THE SPECS FROM THE MANUFACTURER ON THE PRODUCT YOU ARE USING!!! Planning is essential.

Did you get to read my last few posts on lighting? My first lighting post, “Let’s talk about lighting,” discussed the importance of good lighting as a design element. My second post discussed “How to know what size chandelier to buy.” Last week we discussed layering lights in a room by using a combination of “Ambient, Accent and Task” lighting.”

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Barbara Rose

Hi I am Barbara Rose. I am an Interior Designer and I started design2bhappy to inspire others to think of Interior Design as more than just creating a beautiful home. It is about living comfortably, while being surrounded by things you love. It is about creating an environment that we feel good in while providing a sanctuary to counter- balance the stress that life can throw at us. This blog is aimed at helping others achieve that "there is no place like home" feeling.

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