Recessed Lighting Layout

When installing recessed lights, the layout of the lights is an important component in ensuring the lighting design does what it is intended to do.

Additionally, when the pattern of the lights is well arranged, it is pleasing to the eye and blends well with the ceiling.

In this brief tutorial, I’ll show you the most common layouts for recessed lighting installation. This mostly applies to general lighting because with task and accent lighting, you would typically only install one or two lights per object, in which case you would simply align them.

Before you determine a layout, you need to know how many recessed lights the room needs.

General Lighting Layout

The goal of the general lighting layout is to provide an even distribution of light throughout the room. Resist the temptation to install the lights according to objects (such as furniture) in the room.

The guidelines that apply to general lighting are:

  • The lights should be aligned
  • The lights should be equally spaced throughout the room

Use the tabs below to see some recommended layouts based on the number of lights to be installed in the room.

shadow-ornament

General Lighting Layout FAQs

My room has a vaulted (sloped) ceiling. Is the layout different on this type of ceiling?

No. The layout rules are the same on a vaulted ceiling as they are on a flat ceiling. The only difference in the installation is that I recommend installing either sloped-ceiling fixtures or adjustable trims to compensate for the slope angle and reduce glare.
shadow-ornament

When laying out the lights in the family room, I end up with a light directly over the TV and I’m worried that it will cause glare on the screen. Should I eliminate it?

No. The solution is not to eliminate the light, but rather to separate the layout into two control zones. This will allow you to control one or more of the lights independently from the rest, and give you ultimate flexibility in your design.

For example; if you are installing six lights in a room, you may want to separate the lights into two zones with three lights each. You can dim or turn off the row of lights in front of the television, while still having some light over the sofa from the other row of lights.
shadow-ornament

shadow-ornament

Task Lighting Layout

The goal of the task lighting layout is to provide light for a specific work surface or area.

The guidelines for task lighting are:

  • The lights do not need to be aligned with your general or accent lights
  • If more than one light is required, the lights should be equally spaced and aligned with each other over the surface


Accent Lighting Layout

The goal of the accent lighting is very similar to task lighting, except the light is usually directed at an object rather than a work surface. The guidelines for accent lighting are:

  • The lights do not need to be aligned with your general or task lights
  • If more than one light is required, the lights should be equally spaced and aligned

 

Now that you know the layouts, let’s move on to calculating the placement of recessed lights.