Where to place downlights in your home


If you’re looking for some simple, understated, and elegant lighting for your home, a downlight is the perfect choice.

A downlight is a light fitting that is installed in a ceiling and illuminates the space directly below it. This type of lighting has many benefits, including the fact that it helps save energy, and you can use it to brighten up an area of particular interest. For example, you can set a downlight above a television, a cabinet, or a table.

In this article, we’ll look at where you can use downlights in your home, as well as how you can utilise them to the best effect.

And remember, we have a fantastic range of downlights to get you started on your DIY journey at Electrical Supermarket.


-Which rooms can I use downlights in?

-How many downlights should I use in a room?

-What to consider when placing downlights in a home

-Never place downlights in a grid

-Know which type of downlights you want

-Review what focal points there are

-Understand your ceiling height

-Keep things central

-Consider what other lighting sources will be in the room

-Think about other items on (and in) the ceiling and walls

-Avoid placing downlights directly above people

-In summary: your downlight installation should be as unique as your home is!

-Electrical Supermarket: your downlight specialist


Which rooms can I use downlights in?

Downlights can be used in any room of your house to which you want to add atmosphere and ambience. We find they work particularly well in bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms.

Some lighting types don’t work well in rooms with low ceilings – you don’t want to install a stunning pendant light only to find everyone ends up bashing their head on it! However, as downlights are recessed into the ceiling, they give you the light you need without taking up valuable room space.

You can choose the finish of your downlights, meaning you can customise them to the style and aesthetic of the room you want to install them in. White metal, chrome and brass are always popular choices with our customers.

Many modern downlights also work with a dimmer, meaning you can decide how much or as little lighting you need at a specific moment. You can even get smart downlights that you can control with a smartphone app!

If you’re installing downlights in a room where there is water, like a shower room, bathroom, or kitchen, we recommend making sure your downlight has at least an IP65 rating. This means your light fitting is dust-tight and protected against water that comes from a nozzle. If you have a downlight in a bath or shower, we recommend IP67, which is fully waterproof.

More information about why you should choose downlights for your home


How many downlights should I use in a room?

The advice varies from expert to expert. We’ve seen electricians recommend anything from one downlight per 1.2m2 of room coverage to one downlight per 1.5m2 of room coverage. 

However, there are other factors that need to come into play, including the shape of the room, the height of the ceiling, and the functionality of the downlights. All these can have a significant impact on how many, as well as the different types, of downlights you need.

We recommend reviewing your room and seeing what works best for your specific requirements. Read on to find out how many downlights you might need and where to place them.


What to consider when placing downlights in a home

Before you start, it’s important to think about where you are going to put your downlights. When installed, downlights are pretty much permanent; they’re not like a lamp you can move around the room!

Preparation is essential. Take the time to review your room and see where the best place to put your downlights is. It’s always good to sketch the layout of your room and experiment before you install your lights.

Here are some of our top tips to help ensure the perfect finish.

Important note: We always recommend using a qualified electrician to install your downlights. That way, you can ensure a high-quality and safe installation that will last for years to come. An electrician will also be able to advise where to place your downlights for maximum effect.


1. Never place downlights in a grid

Many DIY novices think the best way to place downlights is in a grid formation. That way, everything gets an equal amount of light, and all parts of the room are evenly illuminated… right?

However, this typically leads to bland and boring lighting. Placing downlights in a regimented grid pattern negates the reason for using them in the first place!

Don’t be afraid to be innovative when it comes to placing your downlights, and think about where you need light in the room – the guidance below will help!


2. Know which type of downlights you want

There are many different types of downlights out there, and it’s important to know which one is right for the room you’re working in.

Trust us; no two downlights are the same!

Ask yourself the following questions:

-What finish does the downlight have?

-Is the downlight LED or Halogen?

-Is the downlight fire-resistant or non-fire-resistant?

-What wattage/lumens is the downlight?

-Is the downlight dimmer switch or smartphone compatible?

-Is the downlight IP rated?

-What lighting does the downlight provide? Is it cool or warm?

If you’re not sure which downlight you need, we’re always more than happy to recommend the perfect one for your room. Get in touch with our friendly team to find out more!


3. Review what focal points there are

A good place to start is to look at the focal points of the room you want to highlight and add brightness to. This could be anything from a sink in the bathroom, a countertop in the kitchen, or a cabinet in the living room.

Not sure what the focal point of the space should be? Enter the room and close your eyes. When you reopen them, what part of the room do your eyes automatically move to?

When you know what your focal point (or focal points) is, you can add the rest of your downlights around it.


4. Understand your ceiling height

Earlier in the article, we mentioned that downlights work well for both low and high ceilings. While you can get away with the same amount of downlights regardless of the height of your ceiling, the wattage or lumens will change.

The wattage or lumens refers to the brightness of the downlight. When there is a high ceiling, you will need a brighter downlight to ensure it lights up as much of the space as possible. When the ceiling is lower, you can get away with a slightly less bright downlight.


5. Keep things central

When working out where to place downlights, it’s important to keep them away from the walls. This can create grey shadows around the corners and edges of the ceiling, which can make your room look small, dark, and miserable.

Try and keep downlights at least 75cm away from the edge of the ceiling. If you want to show off something on the wall, like a set of photos or a piece of artwork, an adjustable spotlight might be a better option.


6. Consider what other lighting sources will be in the room

The other lighting sources in a room, for example, lamps, LED strips, and ceiling fixtures, as well as natural light, will have an effect on where you place your downlights. 

If a part of your room is covered by an alternative light source, it makes sense to place your downlight somewhere where there is no light available.


7. Think about other items on (and in) the ceiling and walls

For example, let’s say you have a ceiling fan to keep the room cool on hot summer lights. If you install downlights in its proximity, the blades will obscure the lights when it’s on. This means you get a frustrating flickering effect every time the blades cross the path of your downlight!

Alternatively, a downlight in the path of a mirror may throw more light around the room, providing a lighting effect you weren’t expecting!

Finally, as lights need to be recessed into the ceiling, you need to make sure the ceiling is clear. If there are any pipes or wiring in the way, you may need to rethink the placement of your downlights.


8. Avoid placing downlights directly above people

Placing downlights directly above sofas and chairs can provide dazzling light that can make it hard for people to see, and can also cast annoying shadows. Plus, as the light is bright, it can be unflattering too; no good if you like to take selfies!

It’s okay to combine downlights with alternative lighting solutions. For example, if you like to read, a lamp will give you the targeted light you need to get through your book. 


In summary: your downlight installation should be as unique as your home is!

Downlights provide a fantastic light source in your home, but they’re not necessarily the best option for every room. Think about the shape, size and function of your room before you go ahead with installing downlights, and mix them up with a variety of lighting sources to get the best effect.

Remember to consider the following:

-Don’t place your downlights in a grid pattern

-Think about the type of downlights you want

-See what you want to highlight in your room

-Choose the brightness of the downlight to suit your ceiling

-Avoid placing downlights near the edges or corners of your room

-Combine your downlights with other lighting sources

-Know what’s on, and in, your ceilings and walls

-Don’t place downlights directly above people’s heads

Electrical Supermarket: your downlight specialist

If this article has inspired you to use downlights in your home, we have a wide range of lights to suit every taste and budget.

Check out our wide range of downlights. With next-day delivery on most products and a comprehensive returns policy, you’re one step closer to the lighting you’ve always wanted!

Looking for something different? We offer many different lighting types, including LED strips, decorative lighting and outdoor lighting solutions. No matter what you need, we have it here at Electrical Supermarket.

Take a look at our product range, or don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions – our specialist team is always happy to help!