How Far Should Recessed Lights Be From Wall

The layout of a typical home improvement store with a section for lighting on the right.

When remodeling or installing recessed lighting, one of the most common questions is how far should recessed lights be from wall?


Unfortunately, this question has multiple answers depending on the situation. 

The general rule of thumb is to have them at least six inches from the wall, but there are a few other things to remember when deciding.

This post will explore different scenarios and provide recommended distances between the light and the wall. We will also provide some tips on measuring recessed light placement. Let’s get started!

Summary: The placement of recessed lights in relation to walls is an important consideration when designing an effective and visually appealing lighting layout. Proper positioning can significantly enhance the room’s ambiance, highlight architectural features, and provide balanced illumination. The distance of recessed lights from the wall can vary depending on factors such as room size, ceiling height, and the specific lighting goals.

As a general guideline, recessed lights should be positioned approximately 1.5 to 3 feet away from the wall. This distance allows the light to wash down the wall, creating a soft and even glow that helps reduce shadows and adds depth to the room. When installing multiple recessed lights, divide the room’s height by two to determine the ideal spacing between each light.

For example, in a room with an 8-foot ceiling, the lights should be spaced approximately 4 feet apart. Adjustments to these guidelines may be necessary depending on the room’s specific features and lighting needs, such as emphasizing artwork or creating a more focused task lighting area. Experimenting with different layouts and distances can help you achieve the desired lighting effect and create

Why Should You Measure Distance Before Installing Recessed Lights?

There are a few reasons you should take the time to measure the distance between your recessed lights and the wall. The first reason is safety.

If your light is too close to the wall, there is a chance that it could overheat and start a fire. Therefore, when installing a recessed light, you must ensure enough space for heat dissipating.

The second reason you should take the time to measure is that it will ensure that your light looks the way you want it to.

Placing your light too close to the wall will create a concentrated light beam. This can be harsh and cause glare. Placing your light away from the wall will create a softer, more diffused light. 

The last reason to measure the distance between your recessed light and the wall is that it can affect the function of the light.

If you place your light too close to the wall, it might not provide enough light to illuminate the room properly. Conversely, placing your light too far from the wall might create too much light and cause glare. 

What are the Different Types of Recessed Lighting?

Recessed lighting is a great way to add warmth and ambiance to any room in your home. Many types of recessed lighting are available, from basic downlights to more complex fixtures. Here are a few types of recessed lighting you should know about:

  1. Downlights: These are the most common type of recessed lights and provide a soft, even illumination for a room.
  2. Wall washers: Wall washers are usually larger than downlights and have an adjustable beam angle, which can be used to create an ambient atmosphere in your space.
  3. Spotlights: Spotlights are designed to focus light on specific areas or objects. They can be installed in both low and high ceilings but work best when placed close to walls or other surfaces for maximum effect.
  4. Adjustable trims: Adjustable trims are similar to spotlights but offer more flexibility due to their ability to adjust the angle and direction of the beam. This can be useful for adding accent lighting in certain parts of the room or to draw attention to artwork or sculptures.

How Far Should Recessed Lights Be From Wall: 6 Different Scenarios 

1. Installing Recessed Lights in a Living Room

When Installing recessed lights for the ceiling in a living room, the suggested distance between the wall and the recessed light is 8 to 10 feet.


This will ensure that the light is not too close to the wall, which can cause glare, and not too far away from the wall, resulting in an uneven distribution of light.

Ensure the living room has a good mixture of light sources to avoid harsh shadows. If your room is smaller, you can get away with installing the lights closer to the wall.

2. Recessed Lighting for Wall Washers

If you are looking to use recessed lighting as wall washers, you will want to install your fixtures a bit further away from the wall. The ideal distance is between 3 and 4 feet from the wall.

This will ensure that the light is evenly distributed across the entire surface of the wall. The wall’s height should also be considered when determining the best placement for your recessed fixtures.

You will want to install the fixtures high enough so that any objects on the wall do not obstruct the light.

3. Recessed Lighting for Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is a great way to highlight certain features in your home. The suggested distance from the wall is 2 to 3 feet if you want to install recessed accent lights.

This will ensure that the light is focused on the area you are trying to highlight. It is important to note that accent lighting should not be the only light source in the room. Be sure to mix in other light sources to avoid harsh shadows.

4. Recessed Lighting in a Kitchen

When Installing recessed lights in a kitchen, it is important to pay attention to the work areas in the room. The ideal distance from the wall for recessed fixtures over a stove is 3 feet.


This will provide enough light for cooking and food preparation. If you are looking to install recessed lights under cabinets, the suggested distance is 2 feet. This will ensure that the light is evenly distributed and not too harsh.

5. Recessed Lighting for Bathroom Layout

The bathroom is another room in the home where it is important to pay attention to the work areas. The lighting in the room should be focused on the sink and mirror area.

One of the most popular ways to provide good lighting in this room is by using recessed lights. These are especially effective when used in conjunction with a dimmer switch.

This will allow you to create just the right amount of light for any task that needs to be completed in the bathroom. If your budget allows, consider adding a second layer of lighting with sconces or pendant lights.

6. For Task Lighting illumination

Task lighting is important in any room where you need to be able to see clearly. This type of lighting is often used in home offices, craft rooms, and kitchens.

The ideal distance for task lighting fixtures, such as recessed lights, depends on the light fixture’s size and the bulb’s wattage.

Generally, recessed lights should be placed about 30 inches from the wall. However, this can vary depending on the size and wattage of the light.

For example, smaller recessed lights may only need to be about 18 inches from the wall, while larger ones may need up to 36 inches away.

Things to Consider When Measuring the Distance Between Recessed Light and Wall

Height of the Ceiling:

The general rule is that recessed lights should be installed about eight inches from the ceiling.


However, if you have a high ceiling (nine feet or more), you may want to install the light closer to the wall to avoid creating a “tunnel” effect. If you want to create a more dramatic look, you can install the light further from the wall.

Width of the Room:

The room’s width will also affect the distance between the recessed light and the wall. If you have a small room, you’ll want to keep the lights close to the wall so they don’t overwhelm the space. If your room is large, you can install the lights further away from the wall to create a more expansive feel.

Size of the Room:

Another factor to consider is the size of the room. If you have a large room, you’ll need more light and may want to space your recessed lights further apart.

You’ll need less light in a small room, and you can space your recessed lights closer together. Make sure the number of lights you choose is appropriate for the room size.

Lighting Purpose:

The purpose of the lighting will also affect how far apart you should space your recessed lights.

If you’re using recessed lighting to provide general illumination, you’ll want to space the lights further apart so that they evenly light the entire room. Using recessed lighting to highlight a specific area, you can space the lights together.

Beam Angle:


The beam angle is the width of the light beam emitted by the recessed light. Narrow beam angles (between 10 and 30 degrees) create a more focused light, while wide beam angles (between 60 and 120 degrees) create a more diffused light. The beam angle will affect how far you need to space your recessed lights from the wall.

Spacing Between Lights:

Generally, it would help if you spaced your recessed lights about four feet apart. This will ensure even lighting and help avoid any hot spots. The easiest way to measure the spacing is to divide the room dimension by the number of lights you plan to use.

For example, if your room is 12 feet wide and you want to use three recessed lights, divide 12 by 3 to get 4. This means each light should be about 4 feet apart.

These are just a few factors you should consider when measuring the distance between recessed lights and the wall. By taking all of these factors into account, you can ensure that your recessed lighting is installed correctly and provides the

What Is the Ideal Distance Between Recessed Lights and Walls?

Now that we’ve answered the question of how far apart recessed lights should be placed, let’s talk about another important factor: distance from the wall.

The simple answer is that there is no definitive answer – it depends on the specific application and what look you are trying to achieve.

In general, most designers agree that recessed lights should be placed approximately 2 feet away from walls.

This distance allows the light to illuminate the wall without creating hotspots or glare evenly. It also helps to ensure that the light isn’t too diffused, which can happen when recessed lights are placed too far away from walls.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes, you may want to place recessed lights closer to the wall to create a more dramatic effect.

If you’re unsure how to proceed, we recommend consulting with a lighting designer or electrician. They will be able to assess your specific needs and provide guidance on the best placement for your recessed lights.

Final Verdict

So, how far should recessed lights be from wall? The general rule of thumb is to have them set back at least six inches.

However, if you’re using baffles or reflectors with your recessed lighting, you may need to adjust this distance accordingly.

If you’re unsure of what those are, or if you want to install them further away for aesthetic reasons, shoot for 18-24 inches as a good rule of thumb.

Remember that if you do choose to install them further away, you may need to adjust your lightbulb wattage accordingly.

Have any questions about installing recessed lights? Leave us a comment, and we’ll help out where we can!

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