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Bathroom remodel plans call for 3 sconces next to medicine cabinets (two 60-watt bulbs each in frosted glass fixtures)

Plans also call for two 4" cans 5 feet behind sinks for lighting by the closet. The contractor wants to add two recessed 4" cans above sinks (on dimmers). We also have a large skylight in the room. Advice? Thank you!

Asked by Suzanne Taylor
Posted Aug 4, 2014 2:35 PM ET
Edited Aug 5, 2014 6:11 AM ET

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4 Answers

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1.
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Suzanne,
1. Recessed can lights can be installed between the first floor and the second floor in a two-story house. But they should never be installed in an insulated ceiling. For more information, see Recessed can lights.

2. Light bulbs don't have to be rated at 60 watts anymore. There are lots of options in the 10 watt to 18 watt range, including LED bulbs and CFL bulbs. These bulbs will be just as bright as a 60-watt incandescent.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Aug 4, 2014 2:53 PM ET

2.
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Thank you. Just wondering if 3 sconces with a total of 6 60 watt equivalent bulbs is sufficient for the vanity. Recessed lighting could be installed (2 over sinks) in ceiling (walkable attic space above), but will we get shadows or is it good to have both sconces and recessed?

Answered by Suzanne Taylor
Posted Aug 4, 2014 3:28 PM ET

3.
1 Helpful?

Recessed lights in the ceiling under an attic insulated at the attic floor are thin spots in the insulation and very prone to leakage. Thin surface mount LED lighting that don't breach the pressure & insulation boundary are far a better downlighting option than recessed fixtures.

Recessed sconces in exterior walls have similar issues.

Uplighting that uses the ceiling & wall-wash diffusion effects for bringing up the ambient lighting levels are shadow free, and low-glare. Before committing to any path, study up on lighting design a bit- the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has a great deal of lighting design resources available online. http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/ (surf this: http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/lightingTransformation/HomeDesign.asp )

Spot lighting with recessed fixtures will always throw shadows- a more diffuse beam from above, whether backscatter from a wall sconce that directs light to a high-efficiency-white ceiling or from a low-intensity flat surface mount fixture will offer better visual acuity than a PAR20 shining on your face, casting shadows and introducing direct glare. That whole down-lighting with recessed lighting thing popularized in the 1950s passed it's "use-by" freshness date 3-4 decades ago, but is still (over) done in homes today. Uplighting with a zero-glare cove or cabinet top up-light is much more effective ambient lighting that the sea-of-ceiling cans. Where task lighting requires some amount of downlighting, balancing it with up lighting reduces the glare factor, and fills in shadows.

Answered by Dana Dorsett
Posted Aug 4, 2014 4:36 PM ET

4.
0 Helpful?

Suzanne,
Dana gave you good advice. For more information on this topic, see Martin’s 10 Rules of Lighting.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Aug 5, 2014 6:09 AM ET

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