How to Plan Pot Lighting

Energy-efficient pot lights provide more light than standard light bulbs.
Plan pot lighting to set the ambience of a room.Plan pot lighting to set the ambience of a room.
Pot lights are small, recessed lighting units installed in the ceiling. They are used to set a mood in the room and to highlight room accents with a splash of light from an inconspicuous source. With long-lasting, low-heat and low-energy LED bulbs, planning pot light arrangements makes it possible to have a high-end lighting effect for a fraction of the cost.

Step 1

Determine the permanent locations in your room for artwork and room accents. Once the pot lighting is installed, there won't be much room for adjustments. Decorate the walls, furniture surfaces, tabletops and shelves with your favorite decorative accent pieces, and then balance their placement in the room. Use a tape measure to adjust how well the pieces are positioned in relation to other elements in the room.

Step 2

Plan the layout of the pot lights in the ceiling. Use a stud finder to locate the beams in the ceilings. Pot lights make more design sense when they run along the lengths of two opposing walls rather than a single row across the middle of the ceiling.

Step 3

Calculate the number of pot lights you need in your room. Too many pot lights in a row creates a distracting effect, making the lights the focal point instead of the intended highlighted accent pieces. Too few pot lights defeat the purpose and lighting effects.

Measure the length of the ceiling where the pot lighting is to be installed, and divide that measurement by 4 to 6 feet. According to VICAMP Electrical Services, a common pot light placement rule is, "4-inch fixtures should generally be placed at least 4 feet apart, and 6-inch fixtures about 6 feet apart."

Step 4

Select the type and size of pot lighting you want in the room. Pot lighting solutions include flood beam lights that radiate general lighting. Focused spotlights, however, are pointed to shine on specific pieces in the room.

Four-inch pot lights work well in rooms with standard-height ceilings, while larger pot lights are more suited for very high ceilings that position the lights at a great distance from the floor.

Step 5

Hire a professional electrician to install your pot lighting according to your plan. A professional electrician will examine the accuracy of your lighting plans, make necessary adjustments based on your ceiling's contents--such as beams, insulation and wiring--and install the pot lighting in accordance with your local electrical safety codes.

Things You Will Need

  • Pot light units
  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Laser guide

About the Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on various websites. Manal received her Bachelor of Science in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.