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Updated: Aug 24, 2022

House Lighting


From sconces to chandeliers, floor lamps, desk lamps, and flush ceiling lights, you’ve got a lot of options when it comes to lighting a room. So, it’s easy to get caught up in aesthetics and forget that the purpose of a lighting fixture is to illuminate the room. But how do you know if your mixture lights are enough to properly light your room? How do you know if you have too many lights? If you have a tape measurer and calculator handy, the answer is simple. Before we go into calculating your lighting needs, let’s go over some basic functional and aesthetic lighting principles.

Three Types of Lighting

There are three basic types of lighting. In retail spaces, the three basic lighting styles are ambient, accent, and high activity. Ambient lighting comes from wall and ceiling lighting fixtures and is how you will light most of your space. Accent lighting is how you highlight certain things in your room like paintings or architectural features like columns. High-activity lighting fills the gap where ambient and accent lighting doesn’t reach. In homes, high-activity lighting is replaced with “task lighting,” which is self-descriptive–lighting used to perform tasks. These direct lights are on makeup mirrors, table and desk lamps, or stove lighting in your kitchen. Now that you know what kind of lighting you’re working with, you’re ready to figure out if you too little, too much, or just enough.

Fourth-Grade Math

This may sound complicated, but it really is just simple fourth-grade math. Measure the room you’re lighting and multiply the length by width in feet. This will give you the square footage. For example, a modest-sized 12-foot long by 14-foot-wide room has a square footage of 168. Once you have your room’s square footage, you can determine the amount of wattage you will need for general lighting in your room. The wattage calculation is important because most incandescent lights have a maximum wattage listed. For example, a pair of wall sconces with incandescent bulbs might have a maximum wattage of 60 watts per sconce, for a total of 120 watts for the wall. How would you know if 120 watts is enough for the room? To determine the total wattage needed, multiply your room’s square footage by 1.5. So, for our 12-foot by 14-foot room, which has a square footage of 168, we multiply 168 by 1.5 and get 252 watts. The general lighting in the room will need more than those two 60-watt sconces to do the trick. To determine task lighting, the principle is the same, but the math is a little different. Multiply the square footage of where your task takes place by 2.5 to get the recommended wattage fixture for the area. So, if you need to light a 6-foot by 3-foot desk, multiply 18 (square feet) by 2.5 and you get 45 watts. Accent lighting is by nature, aesthetic. To make features in your room pop, multiply the area you’re accenting by three to determine the proper wattage. Call Our Lighting Magicians

If all of this is daunting for you, you’re not alone. But don’t worry. We’re here to help. Super Electric performs s lighting installations across Reno and Sparks. We’re on hand for all types of lighting projects—from the removal of existing fixtures to custom inside-the-wall wiring and new feature design and installation. We perform all types of residential lighting installations for both inside your home, and outdoor spaces – from practical under-cabinet lighting to dramatic entranceway illumination. As a licensed contractor approved by the State Of Nevada, all work done by Super Electric's Electric’s expert staff is guaranteed to meet Washoe County safety code standards. Our licensed electricians are available to work their lighting magic to turn your home into the showplace of your dreams! From estimate to completion, our lighting experts will work with you to define your room’s need, and then work their magic to help you achieve that perfect effect.

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