What Size Recessed Lights For The Kitchen

Generally speaking, standard sizes of recessed lights used for residential fixtures range from 4 to 7 inches in diameter.

However, every kitchen is different.

It would be best if you considered factors like how high above the ceiling is from the countertop or how large the space where the light is needed.

A good lighting plan not only uplifts the overall ambiance of a place but is also important for your physical and psychological well-being.

Especially in the kitchen, proper lighting is more of a necessity than decoration if you want to keep everything in excellent shape.

Learn all about recessed lights, how they can make your kitchen space brighter and what features to look for when buying recessed lights.

What is recessed lighting?

an image of recessed lightings

It is a lighting fixture installed in hollow openings in the ceiling, giving the impression of light coming out of a hole.

It makes a room more spacious, highlights dim corners, and promotes minimalism.

Related Reading: Size Of Kitchen Island – Click Here.

Types of Recessed Lighting

Recessed lights differ based on their components, such as,

  • Bulb
  • Trim
  • Housing
  • Wiring type

Bulb type

Recessed light bulbs are available in both pin or screw holder types.

Then some bulbs produce different radiations by incandescence, fluorescence, halogens, LED, etc.

The LED lights are cool to touch and are considered the most cost-effective and energy-saving choice.

Dimmable bulbs have the option of changing the intensity of light between different levels of brightness.

Trim kit

The visible outside part of the recessed light is called trim.

Its purpose is to conceal the fixture behind it, direct and focus the light downward, and give a finished look.

Common trim types include adjustable, slotted, baffle, decorative, pinhole, open, and shower.

The adjustable trim is great if you want accent lighting for illuminating cabinets and shelves.

While an open trim is the best choice for large spaces like kitchens or living rooms.


Metal clips support the housing for remodeling fixtures pushed through the housing and fixed to the ceiling.

The new-construction frames are pinned to the ceiling joints using nails or screws.

If you can access the space for wiring above the ceiling, then go for the new-construction fixture.

Otherwise, use the remodel fixture.

Wiring type

Recessed lights come with junction boxes with NM and MC built-in clamps.

So you should choose the recessed light that matches the type of wiring installed in your house.

When and Where to Use Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting can be used as ambient lighting for illuminating a room with a minimalist theme.

Unlike hanging fixtures, these lights are the best option in accommodations with low ceilings since they do not stick out from the roof.

Recessed lights can direct a particular focus on the object through spotlighting in spaces where you want to highlight a focal point, like an artwork or a kitchen sink.

By using low-wattage recessed lights with different beam options, better and cost-effective illumination can be achieved in a room.

Recessed lighting buying guide / how to choose

Figuring out what size, lumens (brightness), color temperature (light tone), placement, and voltage ratings.

These are just a few technical details to remember while choosing a suitable recessed light.

For standard kitchen environments, high ambient light is required.

This means that each light should have 700 to 1200 lumens and a color temperature between 2700 and 3000 K.

The trim options should be baffle, multiple, adjustable, or open reflector types which can produce a flood light or narrow beam spread as needed.

Lights with 3-inch or 4-inch trim size should be used, keeping a space of 2 to 3 feet between each fixture.

With respect to voltage ratings, recessed light housings can be categorized into three types:

  1. Line voltage housings need 120 V, are easily maintained, and have a low upfront price.
  2. Low voltage housings have 12 V or 24 V ratings – along with low voltage, these housings offer more control over the dimming, light color, and quality.
  3. Integrated LED housings are the most energy-efficient and have the lowest maintenance cost.

What size recessed light over the kitchen sink?

You can install two 6-inch recessed lights with shallow trim and halogen bulbs between 50 to 90 watts for the best lighting over the kitchen sink.

How far apart should recessed lights be placed in a kitchen?

As a general rule, trim diameter indicates the spacing between the lights.

For example, 4-inch recessed lights in the kitchen should be placed 4 feet away from each other.

Similarly, lights that have a 6-inch diameter should be spaced 6 feet apart.

How far should recessed lights be from cabinets?

The distance between the recessed lights and the cabinets should be about 12 to 18 inches.

In this way, just the right amount of light falls on the cabinets, which is also enough to see inside easily when the cabinet doors are open.

Where Should Recessed Lights Be Placed In A Kitchen?

an image of recessed light in a kitchen

Suitable recessed lights help you do your chores more easily and with pleasure while lending a stylish and spacious feel to your kitchen.

Some ideal locations for placing recessed lights can be:

  • Over island bars and countertops
  • For highlighting kitchen cabinets, stovetops, and sinks
  • For shadowy lighting areas under the cabinets
  • For ambiance lighting

Related Reading: Standard Size For Kitchen Sink – Click Here To Read More.

How many recessed lights do I need in my kitchen?

To avoid having too many or too few lights in your kitchen, you should follow this general rule: for every 4 to 6 square feet of space on the ceiling, install one recessed light.

This should give you an estimate of the number of lights you should install on your kitchen ceiling.

How many recessed lights can be on a circuit?

The combined load of the total number of fixtures determines how many lights can be connected to a circuit.

The total load must be less than the breaker’s power rating, which controls the circuit.

If you use a fixture with a 60-watt halogen or incandescent bulb that draws about half an ampere current, then a circuit breaker with a 15-amp rating can handle 30 recessed lights.

A 10-watt LED bulb draws about 1/12 amps of current while giving roughly the same quantity of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

So you can safely connect 180 recessed lights with LED bulbs to a 15-amp circuit.

How Big And How Bright Should Recessed Lighting Be?

Choose a light that will suit the dimensions of your wall and ceiling.

Fixtures 4 inches and 5 inches in size are best in kitchens for supplying countertop lighting.

6-inch lights are mostly used for ambient lighting, whereas 7-inch and 9-inch units will produce a wider light wash.

Lights that provide a minimum of 600 lumens are recommended for kitchens with average-height ceilings.

And 900 lumens are suitable for lofty ceilings.

The majority of LED recessed lights available in the market lie inside this range.

How far should 6-inch recessed lights be?

Every manufacturer provides a value called spacing criterion, which helps determine the maximum space between each pair of lights.

The maximum space is found by multiplying the spacing criterion by the ceiling height.

According to this formula, six-inch recessed lights with a spacing criterion of 1.5 and a room height of 8 feet should be 12 feet apart. {Source}

How many lumens do I need in a kitchen?

Task areas in the kitchen (e.g., countertop) require approximately 80 lumens per square foot.

The non-task regions or general lighting requires about 40 lumens. 

By this estimation, a standard 160 sq. ft kitchen would require 8800 lumens.

What size recessed lights for 8-foot ceilings?

A general rule is to divide the ceiling height by 2 to get the spacing between lights.

Using this formula, 8-foot ceilings should have 4 feet of space between the fixtures.

Is soft white or daylight better for the kitchen?

Soft white light is considered ideal for most transitional or traditional kitchens.

It looks great on wood grains and enhances the earthy tones of your kitchen.

Is cool white or warm white better for the kitchen?

The ideal choice for a contemporary kitchen is a cool white light with a color temperature of 4000K to 5000K.

Is 5000K too bright for the kitchen?

5000K is fine for large kitchens, but if you go above this value, you get a bright bluish light mainly used in commercial locations.

Is 6500k too bright for the kitchen?

6500K lights are best suited for places like office spaces or industrial areas where high concentration and focus are required.

Pros and cons of bigger and brighter lights

Some pros include:

  • Minimalist design
  • less clutter on ceiling spaces
  • ideal for wall-wash and accent lighting

The cons are:

  • Limited area coverage, so many lights are required in one room.
  • Installation is difficult and complex.

What is an adjustable color LED recessed lighting?

Some LED recessed lights to have a color selection feature.

You can change the color temperature of the light for;

  • Warm (3000K)
  • Cool (4000K)
  • Daylight (5000K) ambiance.

Related Reading: Standard Kitchen Base Cabinet Dimensions – Click Here To Learn More.

Final Thoughts

Recessed lighting is a great addition to enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen. 

They are a good substitute for traditional hanging lights and make your working space feel brighter and bigger.

Not to mention their energy conservation and cost-effectiveness.

Looking at all the facts, it can be said that recessed lights are a good investment that pays off in the longer run.