Sep 282010
 

Recessed Lighting Layout How To Layout Recessed Lighting in 4 Easy StepsWe received a question on Twitter recently about how to layout recessed lighting and I realized we don’t have any blog posts on that topic!

If you’re using recessed lights (aka cans, high hats, pot lights, or downlights) to provide the general lighting in a room, follow these tips to create the ideal level of brightness:

1. Ready your sketchbook.

Use a blueprint of the room to pencil in exactly where you want the recessed lights to go.  Before you start, take measurements of any furniture in the room and create paper shapes that are correctly scaled for the blueprint.   This way, you’ll be able to see where the light will fall.

2. Decide if you want to choose a focal point.

If you know of a particular spot in the room that needs a recessed light directly above it, that should be your starting point.  Laying out recessed lighting in a kitchen? You might want to be sure there is a light directly above the stovetop or sink.  Planning for recessed lights in the living room?  You might have a specific reading chair that you already know needs extra lighting.  If you fall in this category, center that first recessed light exactly where you want it and space the rest of the lights around it (see Tip #2 for spacing).

If you prefer to simply space the recessed lighting evenly around the room without any particular focal point, place your first light in the center of the room and go from there.

3. Follow the ceiling height rule of thumb.

To determine how far apart to space your recessed lights, divide the height of the ceiling by two.  If a room has an 8 foot ceiling, you should space your recessed lights approximately 4 feet apart.  If the ceiling is 10 feet, you’ll want to put about 5 feet of space in between each fixture.

Use this rule as a base line, though.  Depending on the brightness or darkness of the décor in the room, the type and wattage of light being used, and the purpose of the recessed lights (general, task, or accent lighting), you may want to space the lights either closer together or further apart.  To compensate for these issues, a smart strategy is to “overlight” the room with dimmable lights and then control the brightness with dimmers.

4. Avoid shadows in the corners.

Make sure to place recessed lights approximately three feet away from the wall.  You must be careful to avoid creating shadows in any corner, as this will have the visual effect of lowering the ceiling.  As long as the lights reflect on the wall at the appropriate distance, they will make the room seem brighter and larger.

by

Emily WidleEmily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

Twitter | LinkedIn | Google +Emily Widle | My Posts (285)
 Posted by on September 28, 2010 at 8:58 am
  • Edward

    I have a beautiful Stained Glass Window that we have framed and put on the mantle of the fireplace. We would like to light it up from behind to show off the colors in the window. What is the best way to do this? The window is 87cm X 132cm, I am concerned for two things, one that the light is powerful enough to reach to the top 132cm and two that it is not too cold looking.

    Any suggestions?

    • http://www.PegasusLighting.com Emily Widle

      Hi Edward,
      I consulted our experts in the customer service department, and they think your best bet is to use two Microfluorescent T4 Light Fixtures. Choose the 28-watt/46.25 inch models so you can mount one on each 132cm/52″ section, and select “warm white” so that your color temperature will be along the lines you’re looking for. Then, use a 36-inch Flexible Connector to link the two fixtures. Hope this helps? Let me know if you have any more questions, or feel free to contact our customer service reps at 800-392-4818!

      • http://www.PegasusLighting.com Emily Widle

        Edward – one more thing. It might help if you check out our backlighting FAQs. Good luck with your project!

  • Smoo

    Hello

    I am running into a road block trying to place my pot lights. My room is 22′ x 10.4″ with 8′ ceilings. On one 22′ wall and one 10.4″ wall, I have about 12″ bulkhead on long wall and 16″ on short wall about 3″ drop. I would like my lights placed evenly around the room for general lighting. How many pot lights would you suggest? And how would you suggest placing them? Would I work off the bulkhead so when looking at the ceiling it looks symmetrical or do I place potlights based on wall? example, 2′ from wall all the way around the room or 2′ from wall on 2 sides and 2′ from bulkhead which ends up being 3′ from wall on one side.

    Any suggestions you may have would be appreciated.

    • http://www.PegasusLighting.com Emily Widle

      Hello! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you …

      I’ve sketched out your room, and I understand why you are running into a road block!

      Here’s what I would suggest:
      Work from the bulkhead rather than the wall. The thing you want to avoid is placing the pot lights too close to a vertical surface, because it will create shadows and make your room feel more closed-in. It’s less of a big deal to place the lights closer together than the ceiling height guideline (than it is to place the lights too close to the bulkhead), because you can easily control light levels with a dimmer.

      With a room this large, you do not want to skimp on lighting. It’s better to “round up,” if you will, when trying to determine the number of pot lights, and then add a dimmer so that you can always soften the light. You can always lower the light levels after installation … it’s much more difficult to increase the brightness.

      So, I would say, measure out your first light in a corner. You can start from the 12″ bulkhead on the 22′ wall – measure three feet out from the bulkhead and 3 ft out from the 10.4′ wall and mark your first recessed light. Do the same thing in the adjacent corner. This will make those two pot lights 3.4 feet apart from eachother. That’s fine! Your ceiling height is 8 feet, so the general guideline for distance apart is 4, but that is a loose guideline. Like I said, better to “overlight” and use a dimmer than to underlight and end up with a room with inadequate lighting.

      Now you have two pot lights sketched out, lined up vertically parallel to your 10.4′ wall. Next, start measuring from those pot lights horizontally. I would suggest putting 3 feet between each light fixture horizontally. So, the lights will be 3.4ft apart lining up with the 10.4ft wall and 3ft apart along the 22ft wall. Again, 3 feet between each light fixture is fine.

      Continue sketching – you will end up with 12 pot lights in all, and the distance between the 16″bulkhead and the last pot light om the 22′ wall will be a bit shorter than the 3ft guideline we have been working with: It will be 2ft 6inches. Since this bulkhead is a bit longer and therefore the light is farther from the wall, I think this will help balance out the room.

      I would also suggest choosing pot lights that are a bit smaller – perhaps 4 or 5 inches? They are available in 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 inches. Two and three inch lights are typically classified as “miniature,” you don’t need to go that small. And you will not regret incorporating a dimmer into the room.

      I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Kiran

        Hi Emily,

        I have a room similar to what you detailed above. Now from what I read, irrespective of whether it is 3″ or 4″, the output of a 50W bulb would be the same. So for the same room, would you recommend 50W for each of the 12 pot lights. Or should I go higher than 50W?

        Thanks,
        Kiran

        • http://www.PegasusLighting.com Emily Widle

          Hi Kiran,
          Yes, you’re right, the light output is technically the same whether you have a 3-inch or 4-inch trim. The larger trim will help distribute the light to a bit of a wider area, but it’s really not too much of a difference when we’re talking 3″ vs. 4″.

          When you say 50W, are you planning on going with incandescent light bulbs – or halogen light bulbs? Just want to make sure you know that wattage is not always equivalent to light output. Wattage is technically just a measure of energy consumption. It used to accurately give you a picture of light output – a 100W incandescent always gave off more light than a 60W – but that doesn’t hold true anymore with more efficient light bulbs. For example, you can find 11W LED light bulbs that give off just as much light as a 60W incandescent. See here for more info on this – what you need to look at is “lumen output”. A 50W incandescent is equivalent to about 625 lumens.

          That being said, I do think that you’ll be fine with the equivalent of 50W incandescent light output/625-ish lumens for 12 pot lights in the same size room. If you want to play it safe, you could always go with about 800 lumens (the equivalent of a 60W), and install a dimmer just in case you want to lower the light levels.

          Also note that the trim on your recessed lights can influence light output. (Reflector trims maximize light output, baffle trims minimize glare, etc…) Light bulbs can even be designed to help direct light downward for a recessed can. I actually just wrote a blog post on choosing a light bulb for recessed lighting – this might help as well: http://blog.pegasuslighting.com/2012/06/how-to-choose-light-bulbs-for-your-home-recessed-cans/

          Let me know if you have any more questions!

          • Brian

            Remember your standard dimmer is only rated at 600 watts

  • Brittani

    What are the “rules” when it comes to lighting a living room? You probably don’t want lights directly over the sofa and the wall-mounted TV, right? Our room is 15′ 6″ by 13′ 4″ with the sofa centered on the longest wall, opposite the TV mounted over the fireplace. I’m having the hardest time figuring out a layout for recessed lights. Any tips for me?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Chris Johnson

      Keep the recessed lights relatively close to walls, as Emily suggests.

      Make sure to install dimmers so that you can have different “scenes”. For example, while watching TV at night you would likely want the lights to be dimmed. However, while entertaining, you would likely need the lights near full brightness.

      I definitely would not put a recessed light directly above the TV. One on each side might be a good starting point for spacing the room. You could put these 2 lights on a separate circuit, so that you could dim them or turn them off for movies.

      I don’t think it would be an issue to have lights above the sofa, especially if the lights are on a dimmer.

      Emily has a good suggestions in the post… if there is a focal point, (Emily uses a reading chair as an example), focus the first recessed light there and then evenly space them throughout the room.

  • Kate

    Hello,

    For a 14′-5″ x 20′-11″ size of family room with a 9 foot ceiling how many recessed lights do I need for general lighting? Here is the floor plan of the house http://www.centex.com/communities/IN/avon/PersimmonGrov/plan/577943/Rosemont.aspx

    Thank you in advance for the help

    • Jacob

      Kate,

      For general lighting for a space that size, I would recommend approximately 12 recessed lights spaced evenly around the perimeter of the space.

      I came up with this number based on two of Emily’s tips:
      1 – space the lights about 3 ft from edge of room/walls.
      2 – space between the lights should be about 4.5 ft based on your 9ft ceilings

      Hope this helps.

  • John Kozma

    I am retrofitting an old stove hood with lighting. It is rather large, with a footprint of about 3×6 feet and about 2 ft tall at the exhaust port. I would like fabricate an enclosure at one end from 22 gauge sheet metal, and put recessed lights inside the enclosure. Your 4-Inch Line Voltage Remodel Air Tight Recessed Lighting Housing looks like it would be suitable for the purpose. I may need to modify the remodeling clips to hold the fixture in place on the metal surface. Other than that, would there be any problems using this fixture? Can this fixture be used with xenon bulbs?

    • Jacob

      John,

      The 4-Inch Line Voltage Remodel Air Tight Recessed Lighting Housing is designed for use in a sheet rock ceiling. I am a bit concerned about the amount of heat that the housing would be exposed to in a metal stove hood.

      To be on the safe side, I would recommend discussing your installation with a local electrician to make sure the heat is not an issue.

      In terms of light bulbs, the recessed light requires either PAR20 or PAR16 lamps. Xenon lamps are not widely available in this shape, but if you find one, you certainly can use it. Halogen PAR20/PAR16 lamps would work very well and would be much easier to find (we offer a few different options on the Accessories tab).

  • Ben Rollason

    One wall of my library has a base cabinet 15′ long, 36″ high with granite top. At each end of the base unit there is a 36″ wide bookshelf unit extending up to within 12″ of the ceiling, (leaving a 9′-0″ space between) Over this space is a decorative wood shelf spanning between the bookshelf units. I want 3 recessed down lights installed under this shelf to light up the display wall and granite top. I have 120v electrical outlet available to feed this lighting. What fixtures should I use?

  • Monica

    We just recently put recessed LED lighting in our dining room which has a 12 foot vaulted ceiling. i noticed however that when we sit at the dining room table, the lights cause terrible shadows on some of the guests. I obviously can’t move the lights now, nor do i want to buy a different table. Is there any way to remedy this?

    • Jacob

      Monica,

      Do the new LED lights seem bright enough for the space?

      If they are dimmable, you might want to try adding a dimmer. I’d recommend one of Lutron’s C-L Dimmers (http://www.pegasuslighting.com/cfl-led-dimmers.html). With a dimmer, you can at least soften the light level.

      If you know the manufacturer, you might want to contact them and explain your problem. They might have a solution – such as a diffuser that would fit over the recessed light.

      • Monica

        Thanks Jacob. The lights are definately bright enough for the space, and actually when on full, I find them too much. We do have them on dimmers and that definately does soften the lights (and the shadows) somewhat. Great advice about calling the manufacturer, which i will do, as I also thought that a diffuser might help the problem if they have such an item.
        Thanks.

  • Jack

    I have been reading the recessed lights should be places at least 3 feet from the walls. Are there any similar giudelines for keeping them from being too close to a bulkhead? We have a bulkhead that runs drops about 11″ down into the room and runs all the way across the room. Thanks.

  • Jacob

    Jack – I would follow the same guideline for walls – try to keep at least 3ft away so that there aren’t shadows created on the bulkheads.

    Good luck!

  • Beven Morris

    I need some advice on position of pot lights for 12′ x 22′ living room. The ceiling is textured ( not popcorn ) and the room is formal. Any suggestions?

    Thanks.

    • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Beven,

      Since it’s a living room, the most important decision is to place the pot lights/recessed lights on a dimmer. It will be important to have just the right level of light for the function taking place in the space.

      In terms of spacing/number of lights. I would follow Emily’s advice by drawing a blueprint and using these ideas as guidelines.
      1. Start with a focal point. It could be a piece of art, a mantle, or a task area.
      2. For spacing, I will assume your ceilings are 8ft tall. That would mean you should space lights every 4ft around the room. (See point 3 in the blog post if your ceilings are taller).
      3. Keep lights 3ft away from walls to minimize shadows.

  • Reggie

    Hi, I need some advice on recessed lights for an open floor plan dining room and living room. Should recessed lights flow from room to room or be in a similar pattern, so the lights are in line with each other? I cannot get the lights to flow from the dining room to the living room Following the 3 feet from a vertical object rule. The living room (10 x 9) and dining room (20 x 12 x 9) are different dimensions but adjacent to one another. If i put the cans 18″ and 24″ off the walls then I can get the lights to line up with a distance between lights 3′ horizontally and 4′ vertically. I will be using 4″ led recessed lights. Btw the ceiling height is 8ft for dining room and 9ft living room.

    Thank you!

    • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Reggie,

      My advice is to set up the recessed lights for the function needed in each room. I would not worry so much about making sure the lights flow or are lined up due to your open floor plan.

      What’s nice about recessed lights, especially if you use white trims, is that they tend to blend in to the ceiling.

      In your dining room, you will likely want the lights to serve as mood lighting. It would be best to position them based on the size/position of your dining room table. For example, you probably would not want to put a light right above where a person will be seated. Instead, it would be best to have a perimeter of lights around the table but not directly over seats. If you will not be having a chandelier, then you might want to consider 1-2 lights above the middle of the table.

      In the living room, I would use the advice from this blog post as a guideline. Find a focal point, and then do your best to follow the rules of thumb as you space them around the room.

      • traci

        Wouldnt you start your focal point from where the chandelier would be in the center of where the dining table would be, then measure out 4 ft from there through out the combined space?

  • Larry

    Lighting a small kitchen. I’m looking at 4″ recessed halogens, but following the ‘rules’ might look like ‘too many” cans for the small space. Kitchen is 10 x 12. Subtract for cabinets 7 feet along the 10′ walls, and full length down one 12′ wall (a “U” shape). If I place the first can 3′ out from both walls and travel down the 12; wall, and place the next one 3′ from both walls, the space between the two cans is 6′ (I’m okay with the other dimension along the 10′ walls [3ft, 4ft between, 3ft] There will be pegasus dimmable undercabinet lighting, a small fluorescent over the sink (centered on the 12′), and the range hood has two halogens in it. But they may not all be on at the same time. Will 4 cans be enough, or should I ‘crowd’ the space with 6 cans?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Annie Josey

      Larry,
      Thanks for your question! For this particular issue, it’s important to consider other factors about the space, like style and color of your room’s decor (bright? dark? light? heavy?), how much natural light the kitchen gets, and the lumen output of the lights you’re using. How would brighter or dimmer lights would work with those factors? I wouldn’t worry so much about having a “crowded” space, because recessed lights (especially ones with subtle white trims) tend to blend in seamlessly with the ceiling. When in doubt, it’s always best to “overlight” a space and install a dimmer so you can adjust the light to exactly how you like it. Hope that helps!

  • Matthew

    Hi,
    I’m currently finishing a 24′X13′ space in my basement to be used as a family/entertainment room. The ceiling height is 7 feet. I will be using 50w 4-inch recessed lighting. I see that you recommend that the lights be placed 3 feet from the wall but it seems pretty far. What is the spacing/distance rule for this type of general lighting?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Hi Matthew,

      Follow our guideline #3 from the above post. Space every 3.5 ft (7ft ceiling divided by 2). Since this is a basement, I will assume it does not get a lot of natural light, so your best bet is to over light the room and place the lights on dimmer(s).

      You definitely do not want to put the light too close to the wall. It will create the ‘cave’ effect, making your ceilings seem lower. 3 Feet from the walls is a good guideline.

  • Diane

    Hi I am remodeling my kitchen and want to do recessed lighting. The room is 24 x 21 with a vaulted ceiling of 12ft. i will have a chandelier over the table and pendant lighting over the island and a pendant light over the sink, But im having trouble trying to figure out how many can lights to put in!! Im thinking on 5” LEDs. also should i put can lights between the island and wall cabinets or will that cast to much shadow?

    • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Since you are using pendant lights as the main task lighting in the space, you really only need enough recessed lights for general illumination.

      I would space the recessed lights evenly around the kitchen, staying 3 feet away from the walls to avoid shadows over the cabinets. Spacing them around the island would be a good strategy to make sure the space has even illumination.

      I have 6 5in recessed lights in my kitchen that is about your same size. I find this to be perfect. We always suggest over lighting the space and installing dimmer switches so you can find the exact light level you desire.

  • Teresa

    I am renovating my basement and turning a portion of it into a studio apartment to rent out. The living/sleeping space is 20′ long by 12′ wide and the ceiling height is 92″. The basement is partially below grade and there are two reasonably sized windows along one of the long walls. Based on what I’ve read in previous posts here, I should space the pots 3′ in from the long walls and then slightly less than 4′ apart for good general lighting. This results in two rows of pots with 5 in each row. I was planning on use 4″ IC cans and LED lights.

    My questions are:
    1. Is this layout (2 rows, 5 cans each) adequate?

    2. Are LED lights the best choice here? I’m looking for low heat, low energy consumption and high efficiency.

    3. If yes to #2, which LED lights would work best for overall illumination of the space – PAR, MR, BR?

  • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

    Teresa,

    Thanks for the questions. Recessed lights will greatly brighten a basement and should make it an attractive apartment.

    1. Yes, I think 10 total recessed lights following the spacing guidelines will be a good choice.
    2. If you are looking for low heat, low energy consumption and high efficiency, then LEDs are definitely the way to go.
    3. The LED light bulbs you will require will depend on the housing/trim. If you have a choice for all 3, I personally would go with BR. The shape is designed specifically for recessed lighting. PAR and MR are highly directional and I think you would have more even illumination with BR. Another good option is an LED retrofit module. Retrofit modules might even be more cost effective because you do not need to buy a trim to go with the housing. We have several 4in retrofit modules you can check out: http://www.pegasuslighting.com/4inch-led-recessed-lights-retrofit-modules.html

    Good luck!

  • Mike

    I am providing general lighting for an office with a trayed ceiling. I have uplights in the tray and cans around the edge. My problem is, my windows are not centered on the walls, so if I do a symmetrical layout of lights I have to ignore the windows. Is that the approach I should take? Or should I change the layout of the lights around the windows?

    • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Mike,

      I wouldn’t worry about the window. I think spacing the lights symmetrically will create the best lighting effect.

  • Ron G

    I am finishing off my basement and plan on using 3″ halogen recessed pot lights. My family room in the basement is only 10′ x 22′, and my ceiling is 7′ – 3″.

    The problem I am running into is I have a 3 ft wide by 12″ bulkhead that runs all along the 22′ wall. This only gives me 7′ between wall and bulkhead. I understand that It is advised to stay 3 feet from walls and 3 feet from a bulkhead. If I followed this rule then I would only have 1 row of lights in the center of the room, and I think that would look weird.

    I am wondering if it would be better to place one pot light 2 1/2 feet from bulkhead and another one 2 1/2 feet from adjacent wall. However this would only give me 2 feet apart from each light. Then would I continue this all the way along my 22′ wall about every 3 1/2 feet?

    Can someone Please “shed some light” on my dilemma.

  • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

    Ron,

    What we suggest in this blog post is merely a guideline. In your situation, it doesn’t make sense to only have one row of lights. I would follow your suggestion of spacing them 2.5ft from bulkhead and wall evenly around the room. That way you get even illumination. Just be sure to place them on a dimmer, so you can control the light level.

  • Robert

    We have a small kitchen with 100 inch countertops on both sides. On one side (let’s call it the left) I have a sink and on the other I have a stove. The center of both sink and stove are at 57.5 inch. On the left side I have a 29 inch cabinet to the right of the sink against the wall and a 15 inch cabinet to the left of the sink at the end countertop. On the right there are cabinets the entire length including passed the end of the countertops where there is a cabinet with microwave and oven. I want to remove the fluorescent light and install recess lighting for either 4 inch or 5 inch. I’ve read all the help on this site and it seems that my lights should start at 3 foot from the wall and be over the edge of the counters. If I do that, then on the left side the light would be close to the corner of the sink and cabinet and I was really hoping to have a light over the sink. Really though, I’m just looking for good lighting in the kitchen. What do you recommend? We also want to install undermount cabinet (xenon) lighting. The ceiling is 9 foot and the counters are 3 foot. Last, can you include which of your products you recommend?

    http://sdrv.ms/XMzhU2 (left)
    http://sdrv.ms/XMzmal (right)

    Thanks

  • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

    Robert, my kitchen is similar to your layout and I’m very satisfied with the layout.

    Here’s a link to an image of my kitchen: https://www.dropbox.com/s/et6l2emluu86cql/IMG_2088.JPG?m

    Basically the builder chose the sink as the focal point of the room and then spaced the lights evenly around the room, starting with the sink. He spaced them 3 feet from the walls and had them illuminate the edge of the countertop. I would suggest doing the same for your kitchen.

    Since you’d like the kitchen sink to have a light over it, start there and work your way around the room, staying about 3 feet from the walls. Since your ceilings are 9 feet, space 4.5 ft apart.

    In terms of products, check out our 4- and 5-inch trims on our recessed lighting page. You will also need a compatible housing. http://www.pegasuslighting.com/recessed-lighting.html

    For under cabinet lights, this xenon under cabinet fixture is our best seller: http://www.pegasuslighting.com/xenon-task-lights-p043.html

    • Robert

      Jacob,

      Thanks for the reply. In your kitchen, are you saying the light is on the edge of the countertop and on the middle of the sink? On another note, what do you have to the left of the fridge? Our home has nothing there and we are trying to figure out how to hide that part.

      • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

        The recessed lights, including the one above the sink, are directly above the very edge of my countertops. The lights provide plenty of task lighting and they avoid creating shadows since they are about 3ft from the walls. I wouldn’t worry about having the recessed light exactly above the center of the sink.

        To the left of the fridge is my dining room. We do not have any recessed lights there. There is a chandelier above our table.

  • Mike

    I am replacing a chandelier with recessed and having trouble with the layout and choice of lighting type. Should I go led? Low or line voltage? What size cans?

    This is a rectangular family room with a tv (back left corner) but seating isn’t centered. The left wall is 14’1″ (with a double glass French door) the back wall is 17’10″ (and has a fireplace centered on it), the right wall is 16’2″ (with 2 casement windows) and the front “wall” has a door to a hallway in the front left corner and then opens to the backside of kitchen cabinets with a counter and bar stools along the right front corner.

    I want a spotlight over the fireplace on a separate dimmer but I am having trouble figuring the quantity, size and location of other lights to light the room and allow reading from the seating area.

    Is this enough info for you to make a suggestion?

    • Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Mike, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to creating a layout of recessed lights. That’s why it can be so confusing – there are a ton of choices. Our recommendation is always to over light the space and install dimmer(s).

      For your living room I would recommend 5-inch line voltage recessed lights. This is a good size for general illumination in a large residential space. LEDs are a good choice if the added initial cost is OK for your budget. They will use substantially less power than halogen/incandescent light bulbs. Plus, it’s going to get a lot harder in the coming years to obtain replacement light bulbs for halogen/incandescent recessed lights. You could install a 5-inch housing and a compatible 5-inch LED retrofit module.

      Here’s a specific product to get you started: http://www.pegasuslighting.com/5inch-led-recessed-light-retrofit-module-12w-baffle.html Compatible housings & dimmers are on the Accessories tab.

      I would recommend spacing evenly around the room every 4 – 5 feet while staying about 3ft from walls in order to provide even illumination. If there are certain seating areas that need task lighting, then you can ‘start’ your layout there and work around the room. You might want to also consider a line of lights through the middle of the room since it’s rather large.

      If you are able to place different sections on different dimmers, that would be an added plus. For example, if you place the middle section on a separate dimmer from the perimeter of lights, you can lower the middle lights while watching TV.

  • Alvin

    I found the directions and comments very important. I am planning on installing recessed lighting in my kitchen tomorrow. My kitchen is 12 feet long and 6 feet wide. The recessed lighting is going to replace two sections of fluorescent tube lights.

    Here’s a pic http://i50.tinypic.com/30axi4h.png

  • Himanshu Anand

    I have a bedroom 26′ x 17′. I want to put 11 LED 3W each recessed lights on the ceiling. I have two fan boxes on the ceiling. Would like to put lights only on the sides. Is it ok to put 4 lights on top of the bed which is on the 17′ wall. Three lights on the other 17′ wall and 2 lights each on the centre of the 26′ wall. How much spacing should be between the lights and distance from the wall.

    Would very much appreciate some suggestions from you. Thanks a lot…

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Himanshu,

      If your goal is to provide adequate general illumination, I am not 100% sure a 3W LED will be bright enough, especially if your ceilings are say 9ft tall. For an LED fixture that low in wattage, I would recommend testing it in the space before installation to make sure you are comfortable with the brightness beneath it.

      For spacing, I would simply keep 3ft from the wall and then space evenly between the fixtures on each side of the room.

  • Simon

    Hello there !

    I have designed, and am self building my own house, and have approached the ‘lighting layout’ phase – something I completely took for granted as being easy… Most of the rooms in my house are rectangular, or square, which I’ve found ‘easy’ enough – but I have one irregular shaped room, and after overdosing on too much internet information, it’s seems to have got the better of me, and I find myself stuck. I would be eternally grateful, if you might find the time to offer me some help, or some tips on how to layout recessed cans for such a room, to give good, overall even lighting – which would be one of the ‘effects’ per room I’m aiming at.. I’m trying to incorporate a few levels of lighting per room, with recessed lights, sconces, and maybe projection / washes / chandelier (all variable by dimmer). I don’t possess a computer format plan of my house,

    My main (irregular) living area is open plan, leading onto an office space at one end, and a dining room / kitchen at the other, but if we were to section it off, and imagine it as a single room, looking from above : If you were to start in the right hand top corner, and NOT draw, but come down vertically 9′ 3″ (open plan entrance to office), and then from that point draw down 13′ 3″, and then left 6′ 7″, and then down 4′ 3″, and then left 15′ 8″, and then up 4′ 3″. Now go back to the top right hand starting point again, and draw horizontally left 15′ 5″, and then diagonally 45 degrees Southwest 14′ – (gap between the end of that diagonal line, and the ‘bottom’ of the square is open plan entrance to dining area), and the that’s the shape of the room !

    So basically, it’s a square, with top left corner cut off with a 45 degree angle, and the bottom of the square, with a recessed area. The diagonal axis is actually the front entrance to the house / living room, and runs around 3′ further to the left than it’s parallel, bottom wall in the living area, but in this instance, you can negate this, and just take a vertical ‘line’ up from the bottom wall end point.

    The only solution I can come up with is a uniform grid of 9 cans (3×3), spaced around 6′ 7″ apart on both axis, with one can centered over the middle of the diagonal entrance way. This leaves a distance of around 6′ 7″ all around the periphery of the grid, to nearest walls at any point (apart from over entrance, and one other proud point of recess). Is there a better way ? If a can is 6′ 7″ away from a wall, would that leave a dead zone, or massive shadow / void ?

    If I follow the 3′ , and half ceiling height spacing rule – I cannot find a solution, but this grid plan seems insufficient / incomplete also – I can’t get my head around non uniform placement of lights. No specific important task area in the room. Could you please suggest alternative spacing and can size / bulb wattage for me ?

    I am looking at maybe splitting cans into 2 sections for dimming (more if necessary). Also, if I replace the center can with a hanging fixture, would the 8 remaining cans provide even light for the room, if activated on there own ?

    I have thought about 6 sconces for this room spaced around 6′ 7″ apart – 4 along the top horizontal / diagonal wall, and 2 in the recessed area – would this work, spacing / number wise to provide good ambience if activated with other fixtures, but not recessed – (for watching movies, relaxing, etc) ?

    Many questions. Hope you can decipher my lengthy post.

    Great, informative site by the way – like the interaction with real, helpful and knowledgable consultants – only one I’ve found like this – I haven’t found other sites / forums helpful atall.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Simon,

      For irregular shaped rooms it’s difficult to always follow the ‘rules’ listed in this post. The goal is to simply make sure there is more than enough light that can easily be controlled by a dimmer switch to set the exact light level you desire.

      Your grid of cans seems like an excellent solution when combined with the additional layers of light you are suggesting – sconces and possibly a hanging light fixture. The sconces will provide light along the walls, filling in any dark spaces due to the distance the cans will be from the walls.

      There will still be even illumination if you use a chandelier instead of the middle recessed light.

      I would suggest 5in recessed lights for residential general lighting applications. Since this is a large space, use the maximum wattage light bulb allowed for the trim/housing you select.

      Overall your plan seems like a good one. You’ll have several scenes of light, which will make this space very versatile.

      • Simon

        Thanks for taking the time to reply, Jacob – very kind of you, and much appreciated. It has been the hardest thing just trying to get any form of an answer out of anyone, but yours (which is actually the only one I’ve received) has given me a bit more confidence to go ahead with the plan. I’m maybe being slightly pedantic, due to my new found lack of experience in this area, and this being my first ever house. Quite difficult doing things on your own sometimes, and maybe my conditioning makes it harder still to admit that fact, and ask for advice – so thanks for being forthcoming, and sharing your opinion. Many thanks again, I send you much luck and light from Thailand.

  • http://gravatar.com/eduboys Eric

    Seems like this is fairly active, so I’ll give my particular situation and ask for some advice.

    I have a fairly narrow and small galley kitchen that currently has one fixture in place, and I am looking to replace it with recessed lighting. My kitchen is 7 feet in length, and there is just over 3 feet between the two countertops and or appliances. We also have a passthrough into the main living space with a 39 inch countertop.

    Fully lit, we currently have some shadows under the cabinets (in the middle of the passthrough), but they don’t bother us too much.

    I’m on the fence about what size and how many recessed lights to buy. I’m nervous that the shadows may get worse, but really have no idea how to proceed. Right now I was thinking about two 6″ recessed LED flood lights evenly spaced in the kitchen area, which I feel should be an upgrade from my one centrally located light in the kitchen today.

    Thoughts?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the question. Galley kitchens are a challenge but I would have suggested the same idea that you have – two recessed lights evenly spaced in the kitchen.

      I have a similar narrow space in my home but a bit longer at about 10ft. Two 6in recessed lights are more than enough to light the entire area.

      Good luck!

  • J. Stilwell

    Hey there…
    I’m doing a reno, and making a rec-room. I have two rooms. One is 21′ x 11′ and the other room is 16′ x 13′…..connected by a 5′x5′ hallway. I have 8′ ceilings. In the 21′ room,a flat screen will have a TV along the 11′ side. The TV wall is 7′ long, as the other 4′ is lost to the hallway going into the second room. The 21′ room as one rectangular window. The 16′ room will have a poker table in the middle, and has no windows. Any tips on placement would be greatly appreciated

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Hi J.

      I have a few pieces of advice.

      If you will be lighting all 3 areas with recessed lights, then I would suggest having several ‘scenes’, all of which should be connected to dimmers.

      In the hallway, I would have 1 recessed light smack dab in the middle.

      For the theater room, I would use the TV as the focal point and space around the room. I would place one light on each side of the TV, then space every 4ft. Keep the lights about 3ft from the walls. You can create a particularly neat effect if the two lights next to the TV are on a separate dimmer from the rest of the space.

      For the poker room, I would simply space every 4ft around the room for general lighting. You could place a light or two directly over the table for task lighting if you prefer. If you do that, then I would suggest a separate dimmer for the task lighting.

  • Todd

    Good stuff here! I have a 20×14 ft great room with 14 ft ceilings. This is a new home and the contractors have placed the cans about 2 feet from each wall in the corners. These lights are on dimmers and there will be a fireplace with TV above it on the narrow side of the room. The middle part of the room will have a couch so it doesn’t need as much light. My concern is the shadowing you speak of. Should I have them move the lights to 3 ft out from each wall in the corner?

    • Todd

      These are big cans as well. I think the are at least 6 inch cans.

      • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

        Todd,

        I’d say tell your contractor your concern and make sure you test them out before you close on the home or your warranty expires.

        It may be just fine but it’s better to test it out first before asking them to move them.

  • Tarek Elrafei

    Hi Jacob,

    We are combining to apartments and when breaking down the wall found a ceiling beam which we decided to make a 24 inch wide soffit that runs about 10 feet long and about 1 ft. height. The living room is about 15 ft wide by 20 ft long and I have 8 ft celings.

    Is the soffit too narrow to place recesssed lights since I read these should start 3 feet from the wall? Also where would you start the rest of the living room lights 3 feet from the wall or 3 feet from the edge of the soffit (ie 5 feet from wall)

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Tarek,

      It’s not to narrow for recessed lights since it’s 2ft wide. If it’s right up against a wall, then yes, there might be some shadows but recessed lights used in soffits are generally used for task lighting, e.g. reading in bed, rather than general lighting.

      I would start the rest of the space 3 feet from the soffit.

  • Chris

    I am doing a bedroom, 14′ 8″ x 11′ 11″. I am going to have a non lighted ceiling fan in the middle of the room. Ceilings are 8′ high. I am planning on doing 4″ LED can lights. I understand about the 3′ away from the wall. I was thinking of just running 4 lights in the points closest to the corners of the room with 3′ away from each corner wall. Being that this is a bedroom and I don’t need a really bright room, but don’t want it to be too dark. Thoughts?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Since you have the ceiling fan in the middle of the room, I
      think your suggestion is a good one.

  • Tim

    I have a basement room which we are finishing out. It
    measures 14.9 feet wide and 21 feet long. There is a 6 foot by 6
    foot fur down in one corner.(12 inch drop) We have used 5 inch cans
    in the rest of the house so we would like to continue to use that
    size. How many cans do you recommend for eight feet
    ceilings?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Tim, That would depend on how and where you space them. Is
      there a focal point in the room? Do you want certain areas to have
      task lighting? It’s hard to accurately say you need “X” number of
      recessed lights without knowing some of the room specifics. I would
      simply suggest you follow the advice we have described in this
      post. 1. Find the focal point, e.g. a task area or where you intend
      to have a sofa for watching TV. 2. Space evenly around the room
      every 4ft while staying 3ft from walls, starting from the focal
      point. 3. Over light and control by a dimmer. 4. Consider different
      scenes of lighting since this is such a large room. For example, I
      would put recessed lights that are near a TV on a separate
      dimmer.

  • Tim

    Jacob,
    Thanks for your response. I actually don’t have a focal point in this room. It’s more of storage/ work room. Again, the room is 14.9 x 21long with 8 foot ceiling. I’m going to put a dimmer switch on it but I want to have balanced lighting. I was wondering if I need to put in three rows or can I get it done with two?
    Thanks
    Tim

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Tim,

      To evenly illuminate the space, I would suggest installing three rows. Since it’s only a storage space you could get it done with only two rows. It’s truly dependent on how much you value the extra investment.

  • Paul

    Hi Jacob,
    I am planning on installing recessed LED lights in my family room of size 20 X 20
    feet with 9 inch ceiling. How many recessed lights would you recommend and how far
    apart should they be placed. What size and wattage should I go with, I am also planning on installing a dimmer.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Paul,

      Family rooms are tough because generally you will have a focal point which will affect the total # of lights to use in the space and where you place them.

      Is there a sitting area that you would like well lit?

      Is there a TV in the space? You probably don’t want a light right in front of the TV because of glare.

      It’s important to sketch the room on graph paper with your furniture and position the lights so that they are suited for the space, particularly for family rooms that are used for many different purposes.

      Since your ceilings are 9ft, I’d suggest spacing them evenly 4.5 feet around the room.

      Five or Six inch recessed lights are generally used for residential. Wattage will depend on the light source, e.g. incandescent, halogen, LED, fluorescent.

  • David

    I have a 4000 sq ft basement with 8 and a half ft ceilings that i would like to do pot lights in and its for a retail application. What do you suggest?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      David,

      For a retail application, I have a few suggestions.

      Try to plan out in advance where some of your displays will be. You can place recessed lights above specific areas to highlight them.

      Choose a high color rendering light source. This will make your merchandise’s colors look as they should. Halogen is a great light source for retail.

      Don’t be shy with the number of recessed lights. You will want to have a bright space.

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  • annie mavis

    Hi there, I can’t decide whether to use the brushed chrome or white trim recessed lighting. I have white stippled ceilings. What is the current trend, and which one would not look dated sooner rather than later? All of my other lighting fixtures are brushed nickel.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Chris Johnson

      Annie:

      I don’t think there is a wrong answer. This is a very personal design choice, of course. I use white trims in my ceiling so that they blend in to my ceiling. Brushed nickel might “pop” a little. However, if you are looking for that “pop” then that might be a good choice for you. Not sure I helped :( Good luck with your project.

  • Matt

    I’m looking to install recessed lighting in my living room as the primary lighting taking away the current ceiling fan and replacing it with a fan that has no lights. My concern is that the fan will cast shadows. As long as my lights are not directly over the fan is this a concern I should have?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Matt, if they are too close than I would expect a shadow and maybe even a strobe effect while the fan is on. Much of it depends on the beam spread and the type of recessed light you are using. My advice is to give the recessed lights as much space as possible from the fan and if you are able to test the light bulbs you intend to use in the space before permanent install that would be helpful, You might want to try a narrow flood beam spread in the lights.

  • Micki

    If you place canned lights around the perimeter of a room (15 x 25), do you still use a center light fixture?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Chris Johnson

      Micki:

      I think that is a personal choice. You can have a center light fixture or not.

      In my family room I have both recessed can lights around the perimeter and I have a ceiling fan with light. I mostly use the cans for general lighting. Sometimes I also put on the ceiling fan light when I want a boost in lighting. Sometimes I only use the ceiling fan light without the cans when I want a lower light level. It gives me options. However, the cans definitely provide most of my general illumination.

  • https://www.facebook.com/frankharris.nickiharris Nicki Harris Frank Harris

    Excellent Stuff!

    We’d like to replace the outdated fluorescent tubes in our very small kitchen with recessed LEDs. The dimensions are 6 feet 6 inches by 10 feet with 8 foot ceilings, There’s a small window on one 6 foot wall and cabinets on the other three. Following the ‘basic’ guidelines, 2 lights across the center will keep us 3 feet from all walls and 4 feet apart, but I’m concerned this will not be enough light for my wife, even with some under-cabinet lights. Four recessed lights would put us much closer than three feet to the 10-foot walls and not leave much room between the lights themselves. And suggestions on which is the better way to ‘error’?

    Thanks again for the great posts.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Nicki, this is a tough one. I would much rather over-light a space than under-light it, so I would recommend the 4 recessed lights option. You are right to question whether 2 lights would be bright enough for the space. If you are able to evenly space them around the perimeter at 3ft from the walls, that would be ideal.

      • Terry White

        The lighting in our kitchen is 3 fluorescent, double 40 watt tube, fixtures in a rectangular recess 4-1/2 feet x 8feet. We want to replace with can lights in the recessed rectangle. I am thinking of using six 6″ can lights. Should I lay them out in two banks of 3 lights in a line or some other pattern?

        Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated?
        Thank you

        • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

          Terry, my suggestion is to follow the steps in this post. Is there a focal point were you would want task lighting, e.g. the kitchen sink? Use the focal point as the starting position and then space evenly around the room following the ceiling height rule. Finally, place them about 3ft from the walls to avoid shadows.

  • Doug

    How many 6″ can/pot lights do I need for a 16×26 room? I have been told 12 by some people and 15 by others. The ceilings are 92″.
    Thanks

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Doug, you might be getting different answers because the correct answer is “it depends”. Every room is different and has different needs. Are there any places you would want to make a focal point in the space? If it’s a living room, that could be a reading chair, a mantel, etc. My suggestion is to use our steps 1-4 above as a starting place for sketching where to place lights.

  • Terry White

    I am replacing three fluorescent double tube fixtures in a 4-1/2 ft. by 8 ft recessed ceiling area in our kitchen. I am planning on using six 6″ can lights. Should I have two rows of three lights running the 8 ft. length of the recessed area? Also, how far out from the sides of the recessed area should the lights be? Maybe 1 ft. away so the light does not shine on the recessed sides?

    Any suggestions would be very welcomed.
    Thank you.

    Terry White

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Terry, when you say sides of the recessed area, do you mean the walls of the room? If so, we recommend keeping lights 3ft from the walls to avoid shadows.

      • Terry White

        No, not the walls of the kitchen, I meant the sides of the rectangular box that is recessed up into the ceiling (appx. 6″) that currently has three 48″ fluorescent fixtures that illuminate through diffusers that are flush with the ceiling.

  • Dealman

    You say to place lights 3 ft from wall in a post about kitchen lighting is it from wall or from face of cabinets?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Our general rule of thumb is to place recessed lights approximately 3 ft from the wall NOT the cabinets.

  • Josh

    Hi Jacob,
    I have a bit of an awkward space I’d like your advice on if possible – my basement is approximately 20′x30′ with low ceilings and lower air vents running down the middle of the house. This essentially leaves me with two rectangular areas to light instead. The current lighting situation is just a few bulbs hanging with chain-pulls, so removing these for recessed lighting between the exposed rafters buys me valuable additional head room.
    The first area is a 10′ x 26.5′ area with a minimum ceiling height of 6’1″, and a maximum ceiling height of 6’6″ when you get to the drain near the middle of this rectangle.
    The second area is a 6′ x 29′ area with a uniform ceiling height of 6’3″.
    Using your advice that recessed lights should be approximately 3′ from the walls, I was thinking area 1 could be on a single switch containing 6 rows of 2 cans, 3 feet from the walls and 4 feet apart from each other.
    For area 2, which would be on my second switch, 3′ from the walls would mean a single row of 6 cans 4.5′ from one another.
    Do you agree with my conclusions or have any other advice for this application?
    Thanks,
    Josh

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com Jacob Swiger

      Josh, your layout sounds perfectly reasonable. I would suggest you consider using dimmers instead of switches if possible. I would also suggest you consider how the space will be used and if there will be a need for lights over specific areas. For example, perhaps you will have a theater in your basement and would like to be able to separately control the lights near the TV.

  • Melony

    I am redoing basement and have 2 rooms, 12×15 and 15×19 how many 3 inch spot lights do I need to make the room bright enough? Ceiling is almost 7 feet, don’t really need a particular focal point.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com/ Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Melony, since it sounds like you are using the recessed lights as general lighting in the spaces, I would not use spot lights. Spot lights are generally useful for accenting specific items. Instead, I would choose a flood or narrow flood beam spread for your recessed lights. Then, I would follow the guidelines we have suggested here – sketch it out, you will need to pick a logical starting point for the first light, space about 3.5ft apart, and keep about 3ft from the walls.

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  • Gloria Olson

    We do kitchen remodeling and I’m often in charge of can light layout. The thing I struggle with is for general lighting I center my cans in the walkway. I’m often compelled to center a light on a feature like a built-ln refrigerator or a tall pantry cabinet both for functionality but more as a highlight. This often throws off my spacing between lights from one side of an L shaped kitchen to another (example 48″ vs. 58″). Opinion?

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com/ Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      In my opinion, is more helpful to have a recessed light centered over a task area – e.g. the kitchen sink or fridge – and then work around that task area for placement.

  • Ben

    I am in the middle of a remodel where I am redoing the lighting in a kitchen and living room. I have both rooms down to joists and studs so I have a blank slate to work with. I have read through most of the posts here and there is some great information but I still have a few questions.
    1). I want to go with LED technology but am REALLY confused regarding the approach. It appears there are 3 options:
    a) standard housing with an LED bulb
    b). standard housing with a retrofit LED unit
    c). native LED unit including housing. This appears to be the most expensive option. Are there any advantages to going with this approach over a) or b)?
    2). Are there any rules to take into account when installing recessed lighting around a wall mounted LED TV.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com/ Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      Ben, check out this blog post about these 3 options – http://blog.pegasuslighting.com/2013/04/outfitting-recessed-can-lights/

      There are Pros/Cons for each approach.

      In terms of recessed lights in front of a TV, I would recommend not placing one directly over it because when the lights are on you may have glare issues.

      A neat idea is to place recessed lights on each side of the TV and place them on a separate dimmer from the rest of the room. Then you can control the TV lighting just like a movie theater.

  • marg

    can one use only recessed lights in a dining room? My issue is that my table does not sit directly under the present hanging lamp fixture and to move it over would look uneven on the ceiling.

    • http://www.pegasuslighting.com/ Jacob from Pegasus Lighting

      You certainly can use only recessed lights in a dining room but whether it’s ideal depends on what you are trying to accomplish with lighting the space.

      For optimally lighting a room we generally recommend having layers of light for maximum flexibility. You may want to consider using wall sconces in addition to recessed lights, for example.

      At the very least, I would recommend installing a dimmer switch for the recessed lights.

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