Closet Lighting Options and Installation

Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by The Tutor

Closet Lighting Options

Closet Lighting

Good closet lighting provides a well-lit closet that feels more accessible and easy to organize. Closet lighting is an essential feature that can add both functional and aesthetic value to the closet design. A well-lit closet makes it easier to de-clutter and organize things, providing attention to detail which can help you find your clothes easily.

There is a wide range of closet lighting options from wired to wireless, and even high-end pendants and chandeliers for the most lavish walk in closets. When determining what choices to make for your closet lighting, your wide range of options will vary based upon the size of your closet and what you are truly trying to accomplish.

Below we will take you though the most common closet lighting options and hopefully this will provide you with the education needed to help make your decision.

Closet Lighting Options

There are several lighting options for closets and the type of light that will suit you best depends on the type of closet that you have. Here are the four most popular closet lighting options you can choose from:

1. Wired Closet Lighting Closet Lighting

Wired closet lighting is a good option for both standard and walk-in closets and is recommended for those who are willing to change or upgrade the electrical wiring in their home. This option is best for those who can do DIY electrical work, though it’s best to hire a professional to do the job.

With wired lighting, you need to install a light switch box that you can put either on the outside or inside of the closet. If you are also planning to install a motion sensor to automatically turn the lights on, it’s best to put the light switch box inside the closet. You may also select a switch that is engaged when you open or close the closet door.

The next step is to install a lighting fixture designed for closet use. Depending on how big your closet is, you may need to install more than one lighting fixture to keep the entire closet well lit.

2. Wireless Closet Lighting

There are battery-powered LED lighting options that allow you to install bright illumination without the need to change or upgrade the electrical setup in your home. This option is recommended for those who don’t feel comfortable doing electrical work or hiring a professional to do the work. These wireless lighting options let anyone peel and stick or drill and mount a light on your closet.

Basically, wireless closet lighting is a lot easier to install compared to a wired lighting option. All you have to do is separate the mounting plate of a light fixture, pull off its back plate to expose the battery receptacle, and install the required batteries. If it has a motion sensor, remove any packing material that may be covering the sensor.

Determine and mark the ideal location where you want to place the light based on your closet’s shape and size. Align the mounting plate with the marks and then mark the spots where you will need to drill mounting holes. Drill the holes, fix the mounting plate to the wall or ceiling of your closet, then put the light on the mounting plate and it’s ready.

Read our article on the Brilliant Evolution puck light which could be a solid choice for you if wireless if the way that you want to go.

3. Wireless Remote Closet Lighting

There are battery-operated lighting options that come with a wireless remote. You can mount these lights to a wall in your closet, and they can be turned on and off using wireless remote control.

Most wireless remote closet lights have LED bulbs, with remotes that can work from 50 feet away. This type of closet lighting is ideal for larger closets and spaces where using a remote is easier than turning the lights on and off manually.

4. Smart Closet Lighting

If you have a smart home setup, you can use a motion sensor or an open/close sensor and connect it to a smart light bulb that you install in the closet. Smart closet lighting allows you to see when your closet is being accessed through a mobile app.

With this type of lighting, your closet lights will automatically turn on and off when the sensor detects your movement, or when you open the closet door.

You may also install something as simple as a smart plug in your closet which can then be used to plug in a wired light. From there, you can turn an ordinary light into a smart light that you can control with your phone

Read our article on smart lighting options so you can fully understand what this technology is about and whether you think smart lighting is the right decision for your closet.

Different Styles of Closet Lighting

There are different styles of closet lighting and what works best for you depends on the type, shape, and size of the closet that you have and your personal preferences. You have the option to install lights on the sidewalls, on the ceiling, or the base of the closet.

We will break up the types or styles of closet lighting depending upon whether you have a traditional closet or a large walk in closet.

Lighting for Traditional Closets

The most common styles of closet lighting available for a traditional closet as follows:

    • Single Bulb Light Fixture: This is the most common and is found in most homes. In fact, some of these fixtures have a simple cord or chain hanging from the ceiling to turn on the light. Although this is the most common and can provide basic reliable lighting, we say “boring”.
    • LED Strip Lights: LED strip lights usually have an adhesive backing so they are easy to install. You can put them at the top, bottom, inside of the door frame, or inside the storage areas in your closet. Click to see this wireless motion sensor light option that we recommend you try.
    • Wireless Puck Lights: There are many battery operated wireless puck lights available on the market today. If you want a very simple inexpensive option, then click to see the price on these puck lights. They turn and off simply by taping the lens. The downside is having to change the batteries on occasion.
    • Under Cabinet Lighting: Yes, under cabinet lighting can also be used in a closet. Simply mount then right above the doorway just inside of the closet. You will get an even amount of light throughout your entire cabinet. See our article on the best under cabinet lighting options for more information.

 Lighting for Walk in Closets

    • Recessed Lights: Recessed lighting is installed within a hole in the ceiling, which is very common in modern homes. It provides great general lighting and integrates with your closet easily. Read our article on recessed lighting options to see what your choices are. If you have a large walk in closet, this is likely most efficient option which will also provide the best light distribution.
    • Track Lights: Track lighting aligns bulbs to a track. This lighting style can serve as a decorative aesthetic as well as functional lighting. Track lights could be used to accent a particular area of your walk in closet in combination with recessed lighting.
    • Chandeliers: Chandeliers offer a luxurious lighting experience and they are best for large, walk-in closets. We have seen some high end homes use chandeliers in the walk in closet typically hanging directly above a center island.
    • Pendant Lights: A pendant light is another way to create a stunning look to a walk-in closet. This is a good option if you want to achieve both illumination and classy interior design. Read our article on pendant lighting options.

The style of closet lighting that you use defines the design and functionality of your closet lights. It’s important to consider your closet type and how much brightness you need when deciding which lighting style to choose. 

Closet Lighting Costs?

We walked you through quite a few closet lighting options. In the snapshot below, we will detail what price ranges you can expect for the various types of closet lighting.  Just like everything else, you can spend as little or as much as you want. There are always going to be much more expensive options of high end is what you are looking for.

Closet Light Type Average Cost
Standard Light Mount $3.50 – $5
Wireless Puck Lights $15 – $25
Motion Sensor Light Bar $20 – $30
Recessed Light $15 – $25
Under Cabinet Light $35 – $125
Motion Sensor Tape Light $15 – $20
Pendant Light $30 – $90
Track Lights $25 – $70
Chandelier $35 – $90

Fluorescent vs. LED Bulbs for the Closet

Fluorescent bulbs run cool and are energy-efficient, making them a popular choice for closets. Fluorescent lights are a good option for those who are looking for something that lasts but is not too expensive. However, you have to dispose of them at specific drop-off sites when they burn out, so they basically need higher maintenance.

On the other hand, LED bulbs are longer lasting and can save you money on your electric bills in the long run. While they are more expensive up front, they make a wise investment that adds value to your home.

LED lights are likely going to be the best option for you. LED bulbs generate a minimal amount of heat and offer a consistent even amount of light. The best LED bulbs are those that allow you to select a color temperature.

Before you decide which closet light to buy, it’s important to consider its functionality, safety, design, and efficiency. In general, you’ll want to choose a safe set of lights that provides the brightness that you need as well as suits your personal style.

Our recommendation is to select LED lights for your closet regardless of which light fixture you choose.

How to Install Closet Lighting

As a homeowner, you can tackle a closet lighting project if you are careful and follow and adhere to your local building codes. With basic tools, you can install lighting in your closets without having to hire an electrician.

Installing Wired Closet Lighting

Installing wired closet lighting can be done by the average homeowner with simple tools and an intermediate knowledge of how to work with electricity. Following the local electrical codes and taking the appropriate safety measures are a must for this project.

The installation instructions will vary depending upon which closet lighting fixture you choose. However, these basic principles will remain the same:

    • Determine the location of the closet lights – Too often, homeowners select the location based upon ease of installation. We recommend installing your closet lighting where it will provide the most and optimal lighting for your closet. If the optimal location adds difficulty to the installation, then make it more difficult. The goal is optimal lighting, not a fast install.
    • Identify a power source – You do not need to run a special line with its own breaker for your closet lighting. It will likely be easier to tap into an existing power source that is adjacent to your closet. If there is an electrical outlet nearby, tie into it with 14 gauge wire if you plan to use LED lights.
    • Map out your wiring route – Do some investigation on where your studs are and whether you have access to the area above your closet ceiling. If there is an attic above that you can access, then your install may be easier. If needed, cut a slot in the drywall on either side of the studs. This makes running wires much easier.
    • Adding a light switch – The most difficult decision you may have is whether to place your light switch on the outside or the inside of the closet. For small closets, you may want it on the outside. For walk in closets, a switch on the inside may be optimal. In the end, it is all about personal preference.
    • Adding a closet door switch – An alternative to a traditional light switch is a closet door switch.  It will essentially be a button that will turn on the light when the closet door is open. This switch may be installed by removing the trim from the inside of the door frame. Then you will likely have to cut out the appropriate sized hole needed for the switch to be installed. Each switch will come with its own set of instructions. Below are two recommended closet door switches.

See the price for the Gardner Bender Closet Door switch

See the price for the Leviton Closet Door Switch 

Installing Wireless Closet Lighting

Wireless closet lighting installation is much easier than the wired applications. Most of these fixtures can be installed with screws or even double-sided tape. 

    • Determine the optimal location – Carefully figure out what spot in your closet will be the best for your wireless lighting. We recommend turning on the lights and holding them in various points within your closet to see which looks best.
    • Follow installation instructions – Your wireless closet lighting will come with instructions that will require installation with screws. If the instructions ask you to use double sided tape, we suggest still using screws if possible. If you use the double-sided tape, then clean the area in the closet where you will affix the tape with alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of lighting is allowed in closets?
You can install any type of light that you want if the light fixture is installed according to your local building code.

How do you light a closet without electricity?
You can install wireless battery operated lighting in your closets if you do not want to, or do not have the ability to install wired light fixtures.

Are outlets allowed in closets?
Outlets can be installed in closets if they are installed according to your local building or electrical code.

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