How many LED downlights do you need per room

LED downlights are becoming a popular alternative to halogen lighting due to its energy efficiency and flexibility, but many customers can have trouble determining the quantity and layout of lights needed for their project.

So, before making the switch to LED lighting, it’s important to carefully plan the lighting layout to cater to the size, shape, function and design of a space.

Considerations to make when choosing the number of LED downlights

The number of LED downlights you choose depends on a wide range of factors. There is no simple formular for calculating the quantity of downlights required but you should consider all of the following elements.

Type of room

Some rooms, such as kitchens and home offices, require plenty of bright light to ensure tasks can be completed with good visibility. In others, like bedrooms and living rooms, lower light output is preferable so that a cosy, relaxing atmosphere can be created.

Type of downlight

The lumen output of your chosen LED downlights will have an impact on the number of lights you will need in a room. Higher lumen LED downlights often mean that fewer are required to adequately illuminate a room.

Beam angles

The beam angle of an LED downlight determines how much floorspace the light illuminates. LED downlights with wider beam angles allow the light to be cast across a wider area, meaning that fewer lights might be needed to illuminate an entire room, but the light source will not be directed as intensely in one area.

However, you might opt for a range of beam angles depending on the function of a room or area. For example, if you’re aiming to create a focal point in a room you might use lights with a narrower beam angle in that area and wider beam angles throughout the rest of the room.

Even lighting

You should aim to install LED downlights as uniformly as possible to achieve even light throughout the space and avoid overly bright or dark patches.

Ceiling height

For rooms with higher ceilings, it is not necessarily a case of installing more lights to ensure the room is illuminated well but choosing the right bulbs. The LED downlights you choose should be powerful enough to cast light all the way down to the floor. Many people opt to calculate the separation distance between downlights by dividing the ceiling height by two, but this may not be effective for every space.

Room focal points

Focal points which require brighter lighting should be considered first when planning the layout of your downlights. In a bathroom, for example, you might determine the location of lights above the washbasin first before arranging the lighting in the rest of the room.

Distance between downlights

Many customers opt for a rule of one metre between each downlight, but this will vary depending on the lumen output and beam angle of the lights, the size of the room, and how bright you need the space to be. For softer lighting, a distance of 1.5m might be more suitable.

Length and width of room

In square rooms, LED downlights tend to look best when laid out in a grid pattern. However, in rooms that are much longer than they are wide, a grid pattern may create the illusion of the space being much narrower than it is.

Room usage

One huge benefit of LED downlights is they can be strategically located to suit the function of a room. This is particularly useful if a room has multiple uses.

For example, in an open-plan kitchen diner, there may be additional LEDs placed above countertops where food preparation is likely to take place and fewer over the dining area for better ambience. It could also be useful to install dimmable LED downlights in rooms that have multiple functions so that you can adapt the brightness according to the usage of the space.

Ceiling edges

When downlights are positioned too close to walls, they can cast shadows around the edges of the ceiling. This creates the illusion of the room being smaller and darker than it actually is. To avoid this, you should leave a gap of around 75cm between the edge of the ceiling and the downlights.

How does the room type determine the number of downlights required?

The room in which you are installing LED downlights can affect the number of lights required. Consider the function of the space as well as the overall atmosphere you’re aiming to create. It’s difficult to determine how many LED downlights are required in a room without considering the unique size, shape and purpose of the room, but you should assess the level of brightness required and choose lighting with a suitable lumen output.


Most of the time, the lighting in a bedroom should be cosy and relaxing but additional light sources may be required in certain areas. For example, a couple of brighter lights above the bed might be helpful for bedtime reading, and you may want to increase brightness near the wardrobes where you’ll be getting dressed or applying makeup.

170 to 180 lumens per square metre is adequate for general bedroom lighting, but 400 lumens per square metre is better for task areas.

Living room

If you have key focal points in your living room, such as a fireplace or artwork on the walls, you might want to concentrate light in these areas and then create softer light through the rest of the room. Consider areas that might be used for tasks such as working or reading; brighter, more focused light could be helpful here. Dimmable lights are often useful in living rooms to allow you to tailor the light for different functions and create more ambient lighting.

170 to 180 lumens per square metre is usually adequate for living rooms used for just relaxing in but, if better visibility is needed for tasks, 300 to 400 lumens might be better.


In kitchens, you should aim to provide brighter light over counters, islands and sinks where visibility is important. Downlights with narrower beam angles are best in these areas. In more general areas or dining areas in which softer lighting is required, opt for wide-angle lights instead.

250 lumens per square metre is ideal for a kitchen but you might want to increase to 400 lumens per square metre in areas where food preparation takes place.


It is often a good idea to make the sink or vanity unit, the focal point of bathrooms since that is where you’ll need the most visibility. Meanwhile, you might aim for softer lighting above the bath to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Aim for 170 to 180 lumens per square metre in general areas and 500 lumens per square metre for task lighting. Remember when choosing LED downlights for bathrooms that the light fittings must have suitable IP protection to prevent moisture ingress. IP65 tends to be the standard for bathroom lights.

To find out more about fitting LED downlights in your bathroom, read our guide to choosing LED downlights for your bathroom. Or, to find out more about IP65 downlights, read our IP65 downlights guide.


How many downlights should be on a circuit?

The number of downlights on a single circuit varies depending on each light’s wattage and the voltage being applied. Consult an electrician to ensure the number of lights you need will not overload the circuit.

How far apart do you put LED downlights in a room?

LED downlights are most commonly placed between 1 and 1.5 metres apart, but this varies depending on the lumen output and beam angle of the light as well as the function of the space.

How do you plan the layout of your downlights?

If the room has a key focal point or a space in which lighting must be brighter for a practical reason, plan the positioning of lights in this area first and then move on to the rest of the room.

How many LED downlights per square meter?

Many people follow the rule of one downlight per 1 to 1.5 square metres but this may vary depending on the brightness and beam angle of the lights, as well as the room size, shape and function.

If you’d like to find out more about how many downlights you need in a room or for a project, contact our expert team today.

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