How Many Recessed Lights Do I Need?

There are many types of lighting for a home, but a popular one is recessed lighting. This is an efficient and stylish way to illuminate a room. It involves light fixtures that are installed into hollows in the ceiling, creating a sleek look as they blend seamlessly with the ceiling line. How many recessed lights you need will depend on the size of the room, the amount of lighting you want and what you want to do with the room.

Let’s learn more!

What is Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting, also known as can lighting or downlighting, consists of light fixtures embedded into the ceiling to provide focused, ambient, or task lighting without interrupting the flow of the ceiling.

Depending on the size of the space will help you determine the amount of lights you need for recessed lighting.

Calculating the Amount of Lights Needed in the Room

To ensure your space is well-lit, it’s crucial to calculate how many recessed lights are needed. This calculation depends on the size of the room and the type of lighting you desire. You will need to measure the room and the space between the lights. Also, you will need to measure around existing fixtures.

Measuring the Room

Start by measuring the length and width of the room in feet. Multiply these numbers together to find the total square footage. A general rule of thumb is to use one recessed light for every 4 to 6 square feet of ceiling space for basic level lighting.

Determine the Total Wattage Needed

As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to aim for 20 lumens per square foot in living rooms and bedrooms and 50 lumens per square foot in task-oriented spaces like kitchens and offices.

Choose Your Recessed Lights

Look at the lumen output (lumens are a measure of brightness) on the light bulb or fixture packaging. Divide the total lumens needed (calculated by multiplying the square footage by the lumens per square foot) by the lumen rating of the bulb you wish to use to get the total number of fixtures needed.

Measuring Space Between Each Light

The ideal spacing between each light depends on their diameter (also called “size”) and the height of the ceiling. A common approach is to divide the height of the ceiling by two; this number will give you a spacing guideline in feet.

Fixtures and Measuring Around Them

When planning the layout, it’s important to consider existing fixtures, such as ceiling fans or air vents, and measure accordingly to work around them. Additionally, ensure there’s sufficient space between lights and these fixtures to avoid shadows or uneven lighting.

Kitchen with recessed lighting and evenly spaced due to lower ceilings.

Additional Things to Think About with Recessed Lights

1. How You Will Use the Lighting?

Think about the room’s function—will it require task, accent, or general ambient lighting? The purpose will define the placement and intensity of the recessed lights.

2. Ceiling Color

Lighter-colored ceilings will reflect more light, potentially reducing the number of recessed lights needed compared to darker ceilings. Also, you might want to seek help from a professional to see what the recommendation is.

3. Ceiling Height

If you have higher ceilings, they may require additional or more powerful recessed lights to adequately illuminate the space.

4. Lighting Type

You will need to choose between halogen, incandescent, or LED bulbs based on your efficiency and lighting quality preferences.

How Much Does Recessed Lighting Cost?

Costs vary depending on the type of recessed lighting fixtures and bulbs, as well as installation costs if you’re not installing them yourself. $30-$230 on average depending on type of lights. 

Benefits of Recessed Lights

Recessed lights offer a clean, streamlined appearance and can make a room feel larger. They are versatile and can be used for ambient, task, or accent lighting. Their concealed nature means they blend well with any decor style.

How to Maintain Recessed Lights

Maintenance typically involves regular dusting and periodic bulb replacement. It is essential to ensure that the electricity is turned off when performing any maintenance tasks.

Cleaning Recessed Lights

To clean recessed lights, make sure the electricity is turned off before removing the trim and bulb. Clean the interior and trims with a dry or slightly damp cloth before replacing the components.

Other Maintenance in the Home

Now that you know about recessed lighting, let’s look at other areas of maintenance in the home. One of those is removing a ceiling light cover that does not have any screws. This means that it is attached another way. There are various types of covers so you will need to know what you have to know how to remove it.

Another is cleaning skylights. Skylights are a great way to add natural light to your home but they also do need to be cleaned. To do this, you will need soap, water, rags, and a telescoping pole.

Lastly, taking care of the lights is not enough. You also need to take care of the floor. If you have wood floors, using Fabuloso is a good idea. However, you do need to read the directions to make sure it is done correctly.

When Do I Call a Professional?

Though some handy homeowners may feel comfortable installing recessed lights on their own, many aspects of the process, especially electrical wiring, may necessitate professional assistance. If unsure, it’s safest to call a licensed electrician. It can be complicated to figure out the measurements and where to put the lights. A professional can come in handy in this area and save you time and worry.

Take a look at the video below about LED recessed lighting and see if it is for you.


Recessed lighting can dramatically improve the look and feel of any room. By taking the time to properly calculate, measure, and plan for your lighting needs, you’ll create a space that’s not only well-lit but also aesthetically pleasing. Remember to consider all angles—from usage to cost—to ensure your project shines bright. While you are looking at lighting, this is a great time to have a home inspection done, call House Inspection Associates to conduct a check on your lights during a full home inspection in the Virginia, D.C., and Maryland areas.

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