Space Impact When You Recess Lighting

A kitchen with recess lighting.

Whether building a new home or renovating an older home, recess lighting can be a key element in both the function and style of the space. One of the main benefits of recessed lighting is the relatively minimal space requirements they require for incorporation into a room.

Since this type of lighting is tucked away (recessed) into the ceiling or wall where it's installed, it gives a room a larger feel than if other lighting solutions were used. This is due to the relatively minimal space requirement that is necessary to install or display recessed lights. Hence, this type of lighting has become a very popular solution for small hallways, tight corners, bathrooms, and even for larger rooms.

Width of Recessed Lights

Since recessed lighting is built directly into walls or ceilings, the space requirement from the protrusion of the lights is essentially negated. One aspect of spacing requirements that must be taken into account, however, will be the physical space that is taken up in the ceilings or walls in which they are installed. Whether you choose fixtures with standard line voltage, low voltage halogen, or fluorescent fixtures, there are three basic sizes in terms of diameter.

The diameters of recessed lighting fixtures will typically be either 4-, 5- or 6-inches in diameter. The 6-inch fixtures can be used in tall entryways or two-story hallways, while the smaller 4-inch sizes work better in smaller spaces since they have a sleeker, contemporary look with minimal intrusion.

Depth of Recessed Lights

Another aspect of spacing that is vital when considering installing recessed lighting will be the distance the lights themselves will protrude into the wall or ceiling into which they are being installed. Standard recessed lights will typically require 5½ to 7½ inches of clearance into the wall or ceiling into which they are being installed. For most types of construction, this will not be a problem, since you will be installing the lights between ceiling joists or wall studs. In some instances, however, you will find that you have less area to work with behind the surface into which you will be installing your recessed lights.

For these instances, several manufacturers offer models of recessed lighting that are specifically designed for installation into shallower areas. These models will typically protrude between 3 ½ and 5 inches into the surface into which they are being installed.

Once you have chosen a location for your recessed lighting and determined the depth of the area behind the surface you are installing the lights into, the process of installing recessed lighting is relatively simple, and will only require the assistance of a professional in instances where you are not comfortable working with and around electrical wiring. In terms of space requirements, however, recessed lighting is a popular choice specifically due to its minimal intrusion into the surrounding space.