WAC Lighting

How to Select The Perfect Ceiling Lights

December 15, 2020

Adequate ceiling lighting is more important than many homeowners realize. Choosing the best type of ceiling light for each room in a house affects how people feel in those rooms. In a room that’s dim, people can develop headaches or experience eye strain. A room that’s too bright can be unpleasant to spend much time in. When a bedroom, bathroom or living room is properly lit, its inhabitants often feel more at ease and comfortable.

When people know how to pick the perfect ceiling light, they can feel more comfortable at home. Choosing the right light means knowing what size works with the room’s dimensions, as well as what style of light complements the other features and decor in the room.

Types of Ceiling Light Fixtures

You can generally divide ceiling light fixtures into three types — those that produce ambient light, those that offer task lighting, and those that provide accent lighting. Ambient light creates a uniform level of light throughout a room. Task lighting is meant to illuminate a specific area, allowing you to read or perform work activities. Accent lighting might provide illumination on a painting or highlight a particular feature in a room, such as a fireplace or sculpture. A room might need a mixture of each type of light.

Each category of lighting contains several different types of lighting fixtures:

  • Pendant: Pendant lighting fixtures are typically used as task lighting. They often hang over dining tables, kitchen islands or workspaces. Multiple styles of pendants are available, including those created with clusters of several smaller lights and fixtures that have a sleek design. If the design of a pendant has the light pointed upward, with a shade that opens wider at the top, it can provide ambient illumination.
  • Chandeliers: Chandeliers are decorative ceiling fixtures that provide ambient light and a touch of splendor in a room. The fixtures are usually large and are often placed over dining tables or in entryways to make a design statement.
  • Flush-mount fixtures: Flush-mount fixtures usually provide ambient light and are mounted. They rest flat against the ceiling and offer a “barely there” look. Semi-flush mount fixtures extend a few inches from the ceiling and can be a good option when a chandelier is too large for a room.
  • Recessed: Recessed light fixtures mount inside the ceiling, creating a completely flat, almost invisible appearance. They are often used in multiples to create ambient or general lighting in a room. You can also use recessed lighting as accent lighting or to wall to wall if the position of the light is adjustable.
  • Cove: Cove light fixtures create an elegant appearance in a room. The fixtures are usually mounted to the top of the wall and send light upward toward the ceiling. Cove lighting can be an ideal way to draw attention to the decorative ceiling. The light fixtures can also provide ambient light in a room.
  • Track: Track lights provide task and general lighting and typically feature three or more lights attached to a track on a ceiling. Some styles have adjustable heads, meaning you can change the angle to best illuminate a surface or object. Track lights are typically used over a kitchen island or in a living room, shining on a piece of art.
  • Spot or monopoint: Spot or monopoint light fixtures direct a beam of light at a specific area to provide accent lighting. You can use them to highlight a painting on a wall or a sculpture in a room. 

How to Size Ceiling Lights Correctly

Along with choosing the right type of fixture, it helps to know how to pick the right size ceiling light. If a fixture is too big for the room it is in, it can easily overwhelm the space. People can bump their heads on pendants and chandeliers that hang too low or that are otherwise too big. Alternatively, a fixture that is too small may not provide enough illumination.

When choosing the size of a ceiling light, there are three measurements to keep in mind. Pay attention to the scale of the light, its clearance, and its spacing:

  • Scale: Scale compares how wide and tall a light fixture is to the width and height of the room. One way to calculate the appropriate scale of a light fixture is to measure the width and length of the room’s walls, then convert that measurement to inches. A light fixture that measures 24 inches wide will be the right scale for a room with 12-foot walls. To find the right height for the fixture, measure the height of the room, multiply the result by 2.5 and convert that measurement to inches. A light fixture that is about 24 inches tall would not overwhelm a room with 9-foot ceilings.
  • Clearance: Clearance is how much space remains between the bottom of the light and the rest of the room. If a ceiling pendant or chandelier hangs too low, people may hit their heads on it as they walk underneath. The right clearance can vary based on what is underneath the light fixture or how high the ceilings are. Fixtures that hang above tables or countertops can generally sit lower than light fixtures that don’t have anything underneath them.
  • Spacing: Spacing determines how much room is between fixtures and other furnishings in a room. In some cases, spacing can override scale. For example, if you are hanging a pendant over a dining table, you can use the size of the dining table to determine the most appropriate size of the light fixture, rather than the size of the room as a whole. If you are hanging multiple lights over a piece of furniture, spacing them evenly helps to create a uniform look.

Best Type of Ceiling Light for Each Room

The type of room you are choosing a light fixture for also has some influence on what style or type of light will work best. What people do in the room plays a big role in determining which category of light will be most appropriate:

  • Bedrooms: The best types of ceiling lights for bedrooms are usually flush-mount or semi-flush mount fixtures. The fixtures provide gentle ambient light and are ideal for illuminating the space when a person is waking up in the morning, getting dressed or relaxing in bed. Although some people prefer to use their bedrooms solely for sleep and relaxation, some people have a small reading nook or work area set up in their room. If that is the case, task lighting, such as a pendant light over a reading chair or writing desk, can also be appropriate.
  • Living room: Living rooms tend to be multi-purpose spaces where much of the daily activity in a house takes place. To account for their varied uses, they can usually benefit from a variety of different types of ceiling fixtures. Depending on the size and height of the room, a chandelier hung over a seating area might be appropriate. Track lighting on the ceiling in front of a gallery wall or illuminating a fireplace can also be a good option for a living room. Smaller fixtures such as a flush-mount or semi-flush mount may work well in modestly sized living rooms. Some people prefer to install recessed lighting in their living room so the lights almost seem to blend into the ceiling.
  • Bathroom: Bathrooms call for functional and practical ceiling light fixtures. A flush-mount fixture is often ideal to provide ambient light in the room. Track lighting can also be hung in front of a vanity or mirror to provide adequate lighting for grooming and applying makeup. LED vanity lights and wall sconces deliver flattering illumination for tasks such as makeup application, shaving, and other daily tasks.
  • Dining room: A chandelier looks right at home over a large dining room table, but it isn’t the only option for ceiling lights for dining rooms. A single pendant light can provide task lighting over a small dining room table, while a row of smaller mini-pendants or a linear pendant can illuminate a longer table.
  • Kitchen: Like living rooms, kitchens tend to see a lot of different types of use and can benefit from a variety of different styles of ceiling light. Track lighting or oblong pendants over a kitchen island can provide an excellent source of light for chopping vegetables and performing meal prep. A flush-mount or semi-flush mount fixture can provide the ambient light a kitchen needs.

When choosing a type of light for a particular room, also consider natural light available in the space. You might pick different types of ceiling fixtures for rooms with natural light compared to rooms that have few or no windows.

Benefits of Choosing LED Ceiling Light Fixtures

The final decision for selecting a ceiling light fixture is the type of light source you’d like to use. Today, you can choose from compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), LEDs, incandescent bulbs and halogen lights. Compared to the other options available, LED ceiling lights offer multiple benefits for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and other areas of the house:

  • They are energy efficient: LEDs are among the most energy-efficient sources of light available. They use as much as 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and up to 72% less energy than halogen bulbs. Their energy efficiency can mean lower electric bills for those who install them in their home.
  • They last for years: LEDs also have an impressive life span when compared to other types of light. A light fixture with LEDs can last for up to 20 years without the LEDs needing replacement.
  • They look better: CFLs have a reputation for being harsh and too cool. LEDs produce a variety of color temperatures ranging from very cool 6000K to a very warm 2200K. If you are concerned about the quality of light produced by a light fixture, you can look at its color temperature, which is measured in Kelvin. The higher the temperature, the cooler the light color.
  • They are cool to the touch: Incandescent and halogen lights tend to heat up when used, creating a burn risk and heating the air around them. LEDs stay cool to the touch, meaning they have a lower risk of burns and won’t make a home’s air conditioner work harder in the summer.

  • They can be cleaned: A fixture attached to the ceiling can attract dust and grime over time. Fortunately, LED light fixtures are relatively easy to clean. You can dust them, and when more intense cleaning is required, you can use a damp cloth to wipe them down. 
  • They are dimmable: Sometimes you may want to adjust the level of light in a room. With traditional incandescent bulbs, you may have this option, but it usually isn’t possible with CFLs. LEDs give you the option of dimming the lights, based on the type of mood you want to set in a room. For example, you can dim down the light fixture when hosting a romantic dinner and turn it back up if you have to do work at your dining room table.
  • They aren’t affected by outside temperature: Some types of exterior lights don’t work as well or take longer to warm up and fully illuminate when it’s cold. That is not the case with LEDs. They will power on to their full brightness no matter what the air temperature is outside.

Choose WAC for LED Ceiling Light Fixtures

If you’re looking for a ceiling light that will increase the “Wow” factor in a particular room, WAC offers a wide range of styles under its dweLED brand. Our LED lighting fixtures can elevate the style of any room in a home, from the living room to the dining room, and from the kitchen to the bathroom. Our ceiling fixtures provide style and form, but they are also functional, designed to provide the right amount and the appropriate type of light for various applications.

Browse our catalogs and contact us today to learn more and find your perfect fixture.