How Far Should Recessed Lights Be from Cabinets?

how far should recessed lights be from cabinetsRecessed lighting is probably the most versatile type of lighting. It is hard to think of a room where it would not fit. Kitchen, bathroom, hallway, closet, study, living room, bedroom, utility room – any room you can think of can benefit from recessed lighting. The logical question is how far should recessed lights be from cabinets?

Because it is so versatile, the lights layout can be very different and have specifics for each particular room. For instance, in a kitchen or in a walk-in closet cabinets can go all the way up to the ceiling. That raises a question about the distance between the cabinets and the lights. There are other aspects that need to be regarded and we are going to discuss them in this article. So if you plan on integrating recessed lights into your kitchen, bathroom or closet design, keep reading to find out a lot of useful information.

What is LED Recessed Lighting?

First of all, let us look into the terminology. Any type of light fixture that is installed above the ceiling so that it becomes invisible except for the part that actually emits light, is called recessed light. A fixture consists of a housing (where all the wiring and the lights are) and a trim – a visible part that is responsible for the aesthetics of the application. What kind of light bulbs go in recessed lights? Most new generation recessed lights use LED technology. It is the safest and most energy efficient lighting solution.

Recessed lights can be classified by trim type, by housing type, by size, by application and so on. It is the trim type that defines the direction of light, the rate of dispersion, intensity of glare and other important aspects. By choosing the right trim you can create certain visual effects and avoid the undesirable ones.

This trim classification will help you choose the best-recessed lighting for each particular project.

Different Types of Recessed Lights

TypeEffectBulb location
BaffleReduces glareInside the fixture
ReflectorIncreases illuminationInside
OpenMinimizes shadows / Unrestricted lightFlush with the ceiling
EyeballLight can be directed to the part of the room you want to accentuatePivoting bulb located somewhat below the ceiling
GimbalWall-washing effect, pivots in any directionPivoting bulb, almost flush with the ceiling
PinholeNarrow beam of lightInside the fixture
Wall-washAccentuates wallsInside the fixture, part of the light is shielded

Here can see still more information about best recessed lighting!

Kitchen Lighting Design Rules of Thumb

Kitchen is one of the rooms where bright and crisp light feels the most in place. Therefore, recessed lighting should be arranged in such a way as to provide that effect.

Here are some basic guidelines on how to achieve the right ambience in a kitchen.

  1. Brightness. Pick something between 700 and 1200 Lumens. The total level of illumination should be no less than 500 Lumens per square meter.
  2. Color temperature. Lean towards cooler temperatures, around 3000K.
  3. Light size. The optimal size for an average kitchen is 3-4 inches in diameter. If you have a large kitchen with tall ceilings, you can choose 5 inch or 6 inch recessed lights.
  4. Best types of trims are baffle, reflector and open trim.

recessed kitchen lighting design

How far apart should recessed lights be placed in a kitchen?

The simplest way to calculate the distance is to take half of the ceiling height. To get a better estimation, you can use a special recessed lighting spacing calculator. Such calculations will suggest recessed lighting distance from the walls and between individual lights. More advanced calculators take into account additional parameters, such as beam angle, light size and brightness. They provide the number of lights you will need for the room and then you can figure out the optimal distance by yourself.

Taking cabinets into consideration

When calculating the distance than needs to be put between walls and recessed lights, we should remember about overhead cabinets. So before cutting holes for recessed lights you should consider the following:

  1. How deep are upper kitchen cabinets? They do not necessarily need to be installed prior to recessed lighting, but at least you need to know their exact depth.
  2. To find a perfect placement for recessed lights in front of the upper cabinets, think about the edge of the counters. In such a way the countertop will be well illuminated.
  3. The average distance between cabinets and recessed lights is 12-18 inches. However, if you plan to install a ceiling fan in the kitchen, you might need to adjust that distance to allow for at least a 9 inches between the lights and the blades.
  4. Avoid putting recessed light over refrigerator. That will create an undesirable illuminating effect.

led closet lighting

Recessed Lights in a Closet

Recessed lighting is the best type of lighting for walk-in closet. It is flexible, adjustable, creates uniform illumination and does not steal the space. Since closets usually have rather limited space, the best closet lighting should be vibrant, but at the same time not too blinding. You will need smaller can lights for a closet than for a kitchen. But when it comes to light spacing, the same recommendations apply.

Here can see still more information about best lighting for closet!

Video Review: Recessed Lighting Layout Guide

Conclusion and  Recommendations

Recessed lighting is a versatile solution for all kinds of lighting projects. If properly installed, it can create a perfect ambiance in your kitchen, living room, bathroom, guest room and anywhere else you may choose. Even if you have tall cabinets, you can still make it work, just make sure to follow some basic recommendations.

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Harry Brown

Harry Brown

Hello, welcome to the blog! My name is Harry. I am concerned about my eyes health. What about you? Do you like reading? By choosing the right light intensity and color, you will avoid many awkward situations. I hope, my articles and reviews help you.

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