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Recessed lighting type guide: here we provide a guide to the proper spacing of overhead light fixtures and recessed lights. This article describes the recommended spacing of light fixtures as a function of ceiling height, beam spread, and the necessary footcandles of lighting for the area and task. We discuss the requirements for ambient lighting and accent lighting as well.
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This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Our photo at left (Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ, D Friedman) illustrates two of several indoor lighting methods used by Frank Lloyd Wright in "the bunker", originally a storage room, currrently used for meetings, and built with no windows.
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Also see LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE our home page for information about all lighting topics relating to building interior
The general rule for ambient or task lighting is to space recessed ceiling fixtures approximately the same distance apart as the beam spread at the work height, typically assumed to be 30 inches above the floor (36 inches for kitchen counters).
The light beam spread is the central cone of light, where the beam is at least 50% of the brightness at the center of the beam.
Most manufacturers publish beam spread data for their recessed lights with different trim options. Beam spreads and lighting levels for some common fixtures and lamps are shown in Table 5-26.
For ambient lighting, choose a compact fluorescent, A lamp, or wide flood with a beam angle of at least 50 degrees. Typical spacing for ambient lighting with recessed lights is 6 to 7 1/2 feet for an 8-foot ceiling, or 7 to 8 1/2 feet for a 9-foot ceiling. Spacing from the first row of lights to the wall is half this distance.
For accent lighting, space recessed or track fixtures so
their light hits the wall at about 30 degrees. For lighting a
large wall area, the distance between fixtures should be
equal to or less than their distance from the wall (see Figure 5-23).
Watch out: Check with local code officials in your own jurisdiction for specific lighting and electrical safety requirements.
-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
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