going to the store to buy recessed lighting, it would be wise to create
a recessed lighting layout. This will allow you to buy the right
number of recessed lights with the correct trim and will help the
electrician or yourself place them in the ceiling with little damage.
- Draw a box to scale with the room you will be lighting
- Draw the lights into the space to scale
- Group them for switches
Guidelines and Considerations
1. What room is this for?
Some rooms need more light than others.
Kitchens and bathrooms, where specific tasks are taking place like
cooking, need more light than rooms for general purpose, such as a
living room. This, however, does not necessarily mean that every spot
in the kitchen should be covered with recessed lighting, only that there
should be adequate lighting (cans are 2 ft. apart with a stronger bulb
accompanied by under cabinet lighting and pendants).
2. Is it general lighting or lighting for something more specific?
Consider whether the lighting is for
general purpose (light up the room when you flip the switch), or for a
specific purpose (light the art on the walls). Besides just picking the
right trim, you will also layout where these will be needed. In the
examples below, 2 directional lights are placed on either side of a
fireplace and are separate from the layout of the general can lights.
3. How many lights will I need?
To figure out how many lights you will
need, you will need to know how much space you have. If you are
planning general lighting that will cover the ceiling, you will space
them differently, and will need many more than if you are just lighting
some art work on the wall. Below is a general outline of spacing in a
room, of course this is subject to variation if the room requires more
light like the kitchen.
Cans should be spaced depending upon the height of your ceiling (generally):
8 ft. Ceiling: 3ft. apart
10 ft. Ceiling: 4 ft. apart
12 ft. Ceiling: 5 ft. apart
4. What should I do about light switches?
You cannot put too many lights on the
same switch and not expect to overload it. In your plan that you have
carefully drawn out and marked the distances between the lights, circle
which lights will be put on the same circuit and draw a line marking
where the switch will be. See the examples below.
5. What type of light bulb will I be using?
to read about light bulbs and recessed lighting
Draw your room to scale. For this example, this is a 10X10 living room.
Space the recessed lights evenly based
on your ceiling height. This room has a 10 ft. ceiling and the recessed
lights should be about 4ft. apart. Spacing is really about
aesthetics. In this square room, it seemed best to stagger the lights.
In a long and narrow room, you might have two long strings of recessed
lights. Consider the middle light. It does not have to be a recessed
light. If your furniture arrangement and ceiling allows, perhaps this
middle light is a chandelier or pendant.
Mark out the distances between your
lights so you know where to drill holes (these are measured from center
to center). Just remember that you are trying to get an even wash of
light throughout the room. Avoid dark corners (and remember that not all
lighting must be provided by the recessed lights).
Here are two examples of grouping lights for switches. Assume this
switch is one control with different settings which is why they appear
to link to the same place. Left: This shows the two directional lights and the pendant connected with the recessed cans on a separate circuit. Right:
This light shows the directional lights, pendant light, and recessed
lights all on separate circuits for more versatility. Add dimmers to
any or all of these lights, and the possibilities increase. Essentially
you want to group the lights for different purposes in the room. It
might be appropriate to have all the lights on when you are
entertaining, and use less when it is a quiet evening at home. But keep
the number of lights per switch at 6 or less.