Domestic Lighting Levels

Recommended domestic lighting levels vary by area within the home. Also, the type of lighting needs to be taken into account. For example, intense lights and lights that emit UV radiation, such as fluorescent lights, are damaging to furniture finishes, artwork and other objects.


Light is measured in terms of lumens. A lumen is the light density per square foot. For instance, daylight is 1,000 lumens, but a cloudy, overcast day might be as low as 100 lumens.

Domestic Light Levels

Light level needs will vary throughout the house. The living room might only require 50 lumens for lower light to create a relaxed mood for TV watching. The kitchen, where light is needed for cooking, could be as high as 300 lumens. It is recommended that at least 150 lumens be present for reading.

Domestic Lighting

There are numerous factors that affect domestic lighting such as reflectivity of walls, types of fixtures and types of bulbs used (i.e., incandescent, fluorescent, LED). To begin to design and achieve proper domestic lighting levels, lights should be separated by their function. Think of lights in terms of categories such as task lighting when reading and cooking, ambient lighting, accent lighting for artwork and utility lighting for garage, attic and basement).

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About the Author

John Peterson published his first article in 1992. Having written extensively on North American archaeology and material culture, he has contributed to various archaeological journals and publications. Peterson has a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern New Mexico University and a Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska, both in anthropology, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in history from Columbia College.