When it comes to lighting any of the rooms in your house, the choosing the correct number of LED downlights is key. LED downlights are a popular option because of their flexibility – you can create a focal point or you can combine them and light an entire room.

If you choose to do the latter, the burning question becomes – how many?

The truth is that there is no simple answer to this question, as different rooms have different requirements. A room may need more or less light depending on its size, use and type of decor.

For example, a kitchen where food is prepared may need more light than say, a living room, which typically has more of a relaxed atmosphere.

Having said that, there are a few pointers we can give you as guidance, to help you achieve the perfect light level when using recessed LED downlights.

Make a plan

The first, and probably most basic thing you can do, is make a plan.

Getting your ideas and plans down on paper beforehand makes things surprisingly easy later. You can work out exactly where you want your lights to go.

Don’t forget to include your furniture in the plan, as this is key for the next step.

Find your focal points

As well as general ambience, downlights can be used to draw focus to particular areas of a room. Work out which areas need more light and use these as your starting point.

For example, if you are planning the layout in a bathroom, you may want to group lights above a sink where you need good visibility. Or if your recessed lights are going in a living room, you may have a specific reading chair that needs more light.

These lights should be positioned first, with the rest of the downlights planned around them.

If you’re not sure about the level of light you need for any given room or activity, take a look at the table below for some extra guidance.

Activity

Illumination in Lumens/m2

Public areas with dark surroundings

20-50

Simple orientation for short visits

50-100

Working areas where visual tasks are occasionally performed

100-150

Warehouses, homes, theatres and archives

150

Easy office work and classes

250

Normal office work, PC work, library study, groceries, showrooms and laboratories

500

Supermarkets, mechanical workshops, office landscapes

750

Normal drawing work, detailed mechanical workshops, operation theatres

1000

Detailed drawing work and very detailed mechanical work

1500-2000

Performance of visual tasks of low contrast and very small size for prolonged periods of time

2000-5000

Performance of very prolonged and exacting visual tasks

5000-10,000

Performance of very special visual tasks of extremely low contrast and small size

10,000-20,000


Follow the ceiling height rule of thumb

A general rule of thumb for spacing your downlights is to take the height of your ceiling and divide by 2. For example, if your ceiling is 8 feet high, then your downlights should be around 4 feet apart from each other.

It is important to consider that this is only a very general rule and should be used with caution. You may want to space your fittings closer together or further apart based on how light or dark your decor is, the size and wattage of your fittings and the purpose of your lighting.

You should always remember though that it is better to ‘overlight’ your room, rather than risk not having enough light. Using a dimmer switch will then allow you to adjust the brightness level.

Keep your distance

You should ideally leave a gap of 3 feet between the edge of your ceiling and your downlights.

The reason is simple – if your downlights are too close to the wall, they will create unwanted shadows which can actually make the room appear smaller than it is.

A distance of about 3 feet allows the light to reflect off the walls and makes the room feel lighter and airier.

If you need any further advice, speak to our technical expert team on 01260 540014, and they’ll be happy to assist you.