Common Lighting Measurements for Installation

You’ve probably asked yourself ‘how high should a light switch be?’ Or ‘are these kitchen island pendants the right size?’ Finding the perfect fixture is only half the story, proper installation is crucial to getting the look and feel you desire. We’ve pulled together some of the most common lighting measurements to help make shopping a little less stressful.

Note: Not every light fixture is the same. Some are brighter, bigger, taller, or wider than your average fixture. And not every homeowner wants the standard installation - sometimes a lower chandelier is desired for a certain effect, or perhaps you require ADA-compliant solutions. When in doubt, always consult an expert, along with your local electrical code ordinances. In other words, don’t take the numbers below as ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions.

That said, our guide showcases the most common measurements, for everything from wall sconce distance to recessed lighting placement. After all, no one should be left in the dark.

Kitchen Lighting

How high should a chandelier or pendant be above a kitchen island?

Typically, you want your light height over an island around 30” - 36” above the island surface.

Check out our Chandelier Size Calculator.

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How long should a linear suspension be over a kitchen island?

You want about 6” of breathing room on either side of your linear fixture. You can also follow a ⅔ rule, selecting a linear suspension that’s about ⅔ the size of your kitchen island.

Check out our Chandelier Size Calculator.

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How large should my kitchen island lights be? How far apart should I place my kitchen island pendant lights?

The size of your kitchen island pendants will depend on how many pendants you’d like, and how large your island is. It’s better to start with pendant spacing. A general rule of thumb: Divide your kitchen island into even segments, one higher than the number of pendants you’d like to hang. So if you want 3 pendants above your island, divide the island into 4 even segments. If you want 2 pendants above your island, divide the island into 3 even segments. Pendants should hang where each segment meets. So if you have a 6 foot kitchen island and you want 2 pendants above it, you’d break the kitchen island into 3 2-foot segments, and hang the pendants at 2 feet and 4 feet from one side. For most pendants, we recommend approximately 30” in-between (depending on the pendant diameter).

Now to determine the ideal pendant size for your setup, take your island measurement and number of pendants you’d like, and from there reverse calculate the ideal diameter given the spacing suggestion above.

Check out our Chandelier Size Calculator.

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Dining Room

What’s the best size of a dining room pendant light?

Similar to a kitchen island, you want approximately 6” of breathing room on either side of a pendant above a dining table. A fixture with a diameter that’s approximately 1⁄2 - ¾ the diameter of your dining table is a good rule of thumb, depending on the look you’re going for.

Check out our Chandelier Size Calculator.

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When it comes to vanity light height, how high do I hang my vanity lights?

Vanity lights come in all shapes and sizes, and just like your bathroom mirror, you want them at about eye level to evenly illuminate your face. When hanging vanity lights on the side of your mirror, 60” - 70” from the ground is a safe bet.

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What is the best placement for over mirror vanity lights?

A vanity light above the mirror should be about ¾ to the full width of the mirror. You don’t want your vanity light to run past the edges of the mirror, and too small will not provide enough light. If your mirror is extra wide, consider 2 or 3 vanity lights above the mirror.

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When it comes to a bedroom wall sconce, what is the best bedside sconce height?

You want your bedside lights to be at about eye level when sitting up in bed, as most bedside lights are used for reading. 28” - 30” above the top of your mattress should do the trick. Also make sure it’s within reaching distance; not too far away from the bed, but not so close as to be in your way when sleeping.

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How far should recessed lights be from the wall?

When it comes to recessed lighting, there are a lot of variables. Are you looking for a wall wash effect? Are you lighting artwork? All of these will determine your beam angle, which will in turn affect the distance you place your light from the wall. General rule of thumb when placing basic downlights: 36" - 48" between the light and the wall.

Shop Recessed

How far apart should can lights be?

When it comes to a smart recessed lighting layout, can lights should typically be no more than half the distance of your ceiling height. So if you have an 8’ ceiling, you want the recessed lights no more than 4’ apart. If you have a 10’ ceiling, space your recessed lights no more than 5’ apart. Typically, 2-4’ is safe for 8’ ceilings, 3-5’ are safe for 10’ ceilings, etc. It ultimately depends on how much lighting you need, and remember to position the lights above task areas, such as reading spots or work surfaces.

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What is the proper chandelier height off the floor?

The average height of a chandelier or pendant is 7’ off the ground. With higher ceilings, 8’ - 10’ can work, but make sure you get enough light output the higher you go.

Shop Suspensions

How far should a suspension hang from the wall?

You want to give yourself about 4’ clearance, especially if a fixture hangs near a door. Some suspensions can hang closer, if the shape allows, but in general, 4’ is enough breathing room and gives the light output room to disperse.

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What’s a good ceiling fan height from the floor?

Metal fans are required to be mounted a minimum of 10’ off the ground. All other fans are recommended at 8.5’ - 9’. Taller ceilings or large industrial spaces may need something higher up to help keep air mixing at different heights.

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How far apart should track lighting heads be?

Adjustment is what track lighting is all about. Track heads are convenient in that you shift them as needed - lighting artwork, reading, cooking, general lighting, etc. For most applications, spacing them 2' to 4' apart gives ample lighting. If lighting artwork or requiring task lighting at different intervals, it's easy to move them where needed.

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How far should track lighting heads be from the wall?

Track head distance ultimately depends on the height it’s hug. From 8’ to 16’, we’ve got the perfect distance for each. Remember to angle your track heads at 30 degrees when lighting artwork to prevent glare from the glass.

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What’s a good light switch height from the floor?

Most light switches hover around 48” off the ground, tall enough to not require bending but short enough for people of all ages to reach. In some instances, switch height may vary, for example if above a counter in a bathroom or kitchen.

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How far apart should wall sconces be placed?

Wall sconces are one of those fixtures that vary greatly by output, depending on the design. In general, 8’ - 10’ should evenly light a space, but always consider the lumen output and the layout of you walls with door frames, corners, furniture, etc.

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How high should wall sconces be hung?

In general, wall sconce height should be at about eye level. Typically, that means 60” to 70” from the ground.

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How do I light a textured wall?

If a wall is sloped (3 degrees is perfect, 5 degrees max), mount a wall grazer directly next to the textured wall. If the wall is straight, mount a wall wash 1” to 3” away from the wall; the beam spread will disperse and create the desired shadow effect. Just make sure your beam spread matches the effect you’re looking for.

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When it comes to outdoor lighting placement, how should I position my outdoor wall lights?

Follow the same rules as our wall sconce measurements above. If installing 2 fixtures, put one on each side of the door. If installing 1 fixture, install it on the same side as the doorknob to help illuminate the person you’re greeting.

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How far apart should path lights be spaced?

Path lights are intended to help you do one thing: Walk at night. A good rule of thumb for path light spacing: 6’ to 8’ apart. However, depending on the lumen output, you may need to put them closer. More light is always a safe bet when lighting a walkway.

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