How to figure out optimal ceiling lighting for a room

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by ilyaz, Sep 26, 2019.

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  1. Sep 26, 2019 #1

    ilyaz

    ilyaz

    ilyaz

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    We're restoring a 1950 rancher. The living room is about 19'x15' with a low ceiling (8'). It currently have a box for a center light. We want to have enough light in the room. Originally we wanted to add a bunch of recess lights in addition to the center light but that's too expensive. We will definitely be putting a new center light but the question is if it's going to be enough. So:
    1. Is there a way to figure out if a center light would be enough for a room of this size, and if so, what sort of lumens/wattage/light type we need?
    2. If it's not enough, is there a way to figure out the least number of lights we would need to add? Maybe a couple of recess lights? A track light on one side of the room (which has a fireplace so maybe above it?)
    3. With a 8' ceiling, is it possible to find a compact ceiling fan for the center? Or is it just too low? If we do want to consider a ceiling fan then its light needs to be good enough for #1 above.

    P.S. I don't know if there is a engineering definition of "enough light". It's a dark house in part because of trees outside (that we're no cutting) and in part because of the low ceiling and mustard-color paint on the walls (which we will change to off-white).

    P.P.S. Sorry don't have photos of the room yet, maybe in a few days.

    Thanks much!
     
  2. Sep 27, 2019 #2

    Sparky617

    Sparky617

    Sparky617

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    You can certainly do a ceiling fan in an 8' ceiling room. I have them in my bedrooms on the second floor with 8' ceilings. I don't even have the ceiling huggers, the blades are at least 7' off the floor.

    As to lighting, you want to light in layers around the room. A central light fixture isn't great. We have light kits on our ceiling fans, and I'm not a fan of using them as general lighting. If you don't want to go to the expense of cans, I'd look at table lamps and floor lamps as accent lighting to give your lighting layers in the room. Also, wall sconces can be used and some kits are designed to be plugged in.

    For general lighting, you'd want your lights about 4' apart with an 8' ceiling if you're going with cans. If you go with cans, you don't want them above your ceiling fan blades as you'll get a strobe effect when the fan is running. They make some great new options that work with just a regular ceiling box and have LED lights that look like a can light. Since you have a ranch house, do you have access above the living room to run wiring? That really simplifies the process. I added cans to our second-floor bonus room a number of years ago, and despite having limited access above I was able to do nearly all the work from below without opening extra holes in the ceiling. I did need to go into the attic space to run the wiring from the attic down the wall to the switch. Other than that I was able to pass the wire from hole to hole from below. Harder to do when you have a floor above unless they strapped your ceiling joists before putting on the wallboard.

    Here is a web site that offers some advice on lighting. https://www.lightup.com/learn/how-to-layout-recessed-lighting-in-4-easy-steps.html
     
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  3. Sep 30, 2019 #3

    ilyaz

    ilyaz

    ilyaz

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    Realized that our ceiling is even lower, around 86", so no fan. Settled on a large bar light in the middle and a smaller one over the fireplace. If that's not enough rest will be with floor lights.
     
  4. Sep 30, 2019 #4

    Steve123

    Steve123

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    That's a pretty big room. Look at semi-flush mount (i.e with short downrod) lights for the center light. Something that tends to shoot some of the light upward towards the ceiling. At least 4 full size bulbs would be best. That's a good start, but I'm not positive that will be sufficient. Adding some track lights (maybe at each end of room) would be nice.
    They make "hugger" fans for lower ceilings, but I'm not sure that I have ever seen "great" lighting on a fan, so on a big room with only one fixture that might not be the best choice for lighting.
     

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