The Standard Height for Wall Lights

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Wall lights are generally installed for ambient, or mood, lighting when they're indoors; or for visibility and security when they're used outdoors. There is no specific standard for indoor or outdoor wall light height. The proper height for any wall light depends on a number of factors, including the design and purpose of the light, the style of your decor and the height of the ceiling.


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Task Lighting for Specific Locations

Wall lights that are installed for a particular task, such as grooming in a bathroom or reading in bed, require a particular height that makes sense. Two wall sconces on each side of a bathroom or bedroom vanity mirror should be installed slightly above eye level. For bathroom vanity lighting, install the lights on both sides of the mirror at about 60 to 66 inches from the floor. For bedside lighting, install wall sconces just above the headboard or a few inches above where your head.


Allow for Ceiling Height

Generally, you don't want to be able to see the bulb inside the wall light fixture, which makes the standard height for wall lights 60 to 66 inches from the floor. If the ceilings are low, stay closer to 60 inches from the floor, or 8 feet or less. Alternatively, if the ceilings are higher (10 feet or more), consider installing the lights slightly higher than 66 inches from the floor.


Consider the Light's Purpose

For a comfortable, soft glow in the room, use wall sconces as accent lighting. In particular, sconces that have colored glass covers or a dimmer, provide a warmer glow. When installing the wall sconces, do so at a height that prevents glare or blinding effect. String lights along the floor or ceiling also provide an even softer bit of light, particularly in a home theater or along a hallway.


To highlight artwork pieces without creating glare or a shadow, hang wall lights just above or below the piece. You can also highlight houseplants by adding an accent light in the planter aimed upwards at the plant.

Outdoor lights have a similar range of functions, which affect their mounting points. Lights meant to illuminate landscaping or a walking path are often ankle- to knee-height. General-purpose illumination can be higher, approximately the same height as indoors, 60 to 66 inches from the ground. For maximum effect, bright security lights should be positioned in the highest place that's practical.


Don't Overlook Style

The style of the wall light and its size also play a role in determining how high you hang it. For example, install larger, ornate fixtures on a large wall in a large room, and place it high enough so the bottom of the fixture doesn't meet the heads of family and guests walking by. On the other hand, smaller sconces will look more natural in a smaller room, lower down on the wall.


Similarly, outdoor fixtures require you to give some thought to esthetics and practicality. Placing an ornate, artistic sconce next to a main entrance invites collisions, which might damage the light or — even worse — friends and family. The height, size and placement of your fixtures should pair well with the dimensions and balance of their surroundings.


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