To know how far apart should recessed lights be, determine what the light is being used for and how bright it needs to be.
For general lighting a spacing distance of approximately 46″ (4′) is common for recessed can lights, verified with the much used quick estimation of dividing the ceiling height (say 8′) by 2, equalling 4 feet.
However, the measurement between lights is best directed by how intense the light needs to be depending on the activity being lit, whether general or specific.
The first step in planning how far should recessed lights be from each other is to decide on the purpose of the light. Consider the function it will serve and what you want to achieve.
The layering of light techniques include:
•Ambient lighting – this includes all general light in the room, and it should be the brightest layer. This is used when a wide area needs to be illuminated, such as family rooms and bedrooms. For this type of illumination, your lights can typically be spaced 4’ apart.
•Accent lighting – this more focused lighting is used to highlight certain features in the room such as artwork or architectural elements. Here, you’ll want lights closer together and more intense than ambient light, so spacing of 3’ with no more than 4’ apart should be used.
•Task lighting – this type of lighting is used to illuminate an area where specific tasks are done such as over a kitchen counter. For this type, you need the brightest and closest lights with spacing no more than 2’ apart to provide focused illumination.
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Once you’ve determined the type of lighting you need it’s time to create a lighting plan to plot out your recessed lighting placement.
Measure the room and include how the furniture is arranged and where task activities are likely, like reading or preparing food, and transfer this to your plan. This will provide a clear idea of where to add accent or task lighting in the room.
To accurately calculate the space in an open-plan room, you should separate each area into distinct spaces.
Take into account any obstacles that may prevent recessed lights from being installed in certain areas, such as hidden floor joists and pipework.
To know how far apart recessed lights need to be, it helps to know how many are needed for your size of space. To estimate how many LED recessed lights are required in your room size, use this guide:
In addition to general lighting, good lighting design chooses where to direct the eye as the brightest focal point in the room.
You may want to add an accent light for a particular area. This could be artwork that you’d like to illuminate or a feature ceiling such as coffered beams or architectural details. You can choose one wall or corner of the room and focus on it with recessed lighting, placing lights closer together than the general lighting.
The exact spacing distances between your recessed lights will depend on the type of light you’re using, it’s lumen output, it’s beam angle, what it will be used for and the room size and ceiling height.
Best practise aims for the following:
In the knowledge of knowing how many lights are required for general lighting and where to focus more light, rationalize your placement choices to ensure there is an overall scheme for the whole room, otherwise some recessed lights could be spaced too close to each other.
Ensure there is at least 2ft between any light position and a wall or furniture.
You can verify your spacings choices with the estimate of dividing the height of the ceiling by 2 and use that value. For example, if the ceiling height is 8 feet, then the lights should be spaced approximately 4 feet apart. Likewise, for a ceiling height of 10 feet, the lights should be spaced about 5 feet apart.
To prevent the beam widths from overlapping too much, the estimate increases the distance between each fixture as the height of the room increases. However, it’s necessary for the output to increase as well as the room height increases as the light has to travel further.
By carefully considering the layout of your recessed lighting, you can create a beautiful and practical light scheme that matches the functions of your space. With careful planning and knowledge about spacing distances, you’ll be sure to get the best possible result.
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