How high should a light be above a dining table ?

How high should a light be above a dining table

How high should a light be above a dining table?


Hello and welcome back!


If you have googled, how high should a light be above a dining table? You’ve probably got back several articles suggesting anywhere between 30-36 inches.


Or you might have come across some articles suggesting a certain height for an 8ft ceiling, another for 9ft ceilings and a different height for 10 ft ceilings.


But where do these numbers come from, and are they accurate? And what is the problem with too little or too much light?


This guide will try to answer all your questions on how high light should be above a dining table.




The problem with too much or too little light above a dining table


Perfect light
Perfect light


Humans are visual creatures. We see best when there’s a moderate amount of light and too much light, and our eyes strain. Too little light and we don’t know what we’re eating.


The problem with having a light fixture above a dining table is that it’s often too bright or dim. But lighting is an essential element for the perfect dining experience.


Hence, getting the correct lighting above your dining table is vital for a comfortable and enjoyable experience.


Let’s break this down a bit further.


Pros & cons of having too much light above the dining table


Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider increasing the amount of light above your dining table:


The Pros:

  • Bright lights help to energise people when they need a boost
  • Easy to see everything around the table and can help prevent spillage and bumps
  • It can help create a more inviting atmosphere.
  • It can make the space feel larger and more open.
  • It can help you see your food more clearly.
  • It can make mealtime more enjoyable for everyone involved.


chandelier large
Need a light?


The Cons:


For many people, having too much light above the dining table is a disadvantage.


Here are a few:

  • It is well-known that too much light is not suitable for the eyes.
  • In addition, it has been proven that too much light can cause headaches and migraines.
  • Too much light can create a glare on the food.
  • Excessive light above the dining table can also cause shadows on the walls and ceiling, which some people find irritating.
  • It can also be disruptive to the conversation, as people may feel like they are being interrogated under bright lights.

pendant chandelier
Pendant light

Advantages and disadvantages of too little light above the dining table


Less light above the dining table has advantages when setting the mood for a meal.




  • The right lighting level can help create an intimate atmosphere while providing enough light to see your food.
  • To save on your energy bill, lower the lights at dinnertime.
  • Incandescent bulbs give off heat and light, so by turning them down or off, you can keep your home cooler in the summer.
  • Set’s an Ideal environment for couples to enjoy some romantic time together.
  • Less maintenance


However, there are also many disadvantages of having less light above the dining table.


The Cons:


  • One disadvantage is that it can be challenging to see what you eat.
  • Another disadvantage is that less light can make it harder to converse with others at the table.
  • Additionally, less light can create a more formal atmosphere which some people may not enjoy.
  • If the light is too dim, you may not be able to see your food correctly and end up making a mess.

A quick solution:


If you already have the lighting fixed and cannot change it, a quick, simple, and cheap way around this is to have a dimmer switch installed. This way, the light can be adjusted according to one’s needs.


With a little effort, you can create the perfect atmosphere for an enjoyable meal with family and friends.


However, if you are in a position to change the lights, read on for some helpful tips.


We will cover how high to install them, the height, and the type of lights to use.


interior home lights
Interior dining lights

Factor to consider how high light should be above a dining table


To understand the correct height for your light above your dining table, you must consider many factors.


These include:


  • Size of the diners, are they mainly adults or children?
  • Size of the dining table
  • Material of dining table. Yes, that is true, but we’ll get into this a bit later
  • Dining room size
  • Ceiling height


Ok, so let’s break these factors down and get into more detail.


Factors that affect how high should a light be above a dining table


Light pendants above a dining table
Two pendants above a dining table


Let’s start with the most obvious one first, and that is space.


How much space do you actually have in your dining room?


Is it small and cramped? Or is it wide and spacious?


Well, it all matters.


The size of your dining room


The size of the dining room significantly impacts the kind of lights that should be used in the space.


A small dining room may only need a single overhead light. In contrast, a large dining room may need several different types of lighting to create the right ambience.


Light for a small dining room


Adding too much light to a small room makes the space look smaller, affecting your mood when sitting to eat. Also, too many lights in a small area will give you a bright look, which you might not want in your dining space.


Hence, too much light above the dining table can be a nuisance, especially when enjoying a meal.


Therefore, if you have a small room, you have two good options:


  1. The first is to put a small chandelier or a medium-sized ceiling light above the table area. This way, there will be sufficient light for the room and the table. Covering all the vital areas. A chandelier with a dimmer will be a perfect choice.


With this option, the height above the table can be up to the ceiling without it being a problem.


Even a recess light in the ceiling will be fine if it gives the right amount of light.


Benefits of this option:


  • This will ensure you have the right amount of light on your dining table.
  • But also at a distance that will not cramp your area.
  • With dimmers, ideal for intimate romantic dinners.


Two long pendants above dining table
Two long pendants above dining table


2. The second choice is to have medium-sized or 2/3 small-sized pendants. Here you will want to place the light much higher than a long pendant style to not cramp your space.


So, a height above 3 feet will suffice.


Just ensure it is bright enough to cover the whole dining table adequately.


Benefits of this option:


  • Stylish pendants are a great addition to any dining area.
  • It can create a very intimate and informal atmosphere.
  • Keeping them around 3 feet or just above can give the perfect amount of lighting without it being too dim or too bright.


Long double pendants
Long double pendants


Light for a larger dining room.


Then there is too little light in a large dining room. If you have a spacious room and not enough light, you will feel an underwhelming experience.


Don’t get us wrong, dining in the dark may sound like a romantic dinner for two, but it’s not ideal for every night.


In a large room, you can add several lights around the ceiling for the perfect decor, a sensibly sized chandelier just above the centre piece – the dining table.


Again, the chandelier does not have to hang too low if it is big enough. IAs long can provide the right amount of radiance above the table and its diners.


So, 1/2 foot away from the ceiling will suffice.




  • A stylish chandelier to add a bit of grandiose to your dining experience
  • Large enough to provide adequate lighting without overpowering your space.
  • Hanging around 2 feet away from the ceiling will prevent people from bumping into it while still being able to appreciate its design and functionality.
  • Dimmers will help adjust the lighting to suit the occasion.


Another option for a large room is to add an ample pendant light above the table. Or many smaller ones


This light can hang pretty low, about 3.5 feet above the table.


Three colourful pendant lights
Three colourful pendant lights


Benefits of large pendants.


  • Similar to chandeliers, they provide sufficient lighting.
  • However, pendants can provide more of a focal point with their light style.
  • They don’t overpower the area, so they don’t really need dimmers.
  • Adding several smaller pendants helps to focus the lights on a specific area of the table, like the areas for plats, cutlery etc.
  • Having some little pendants is excellent when you have many guests. Each guest gets their own lighted area on the table.


In this option, you just need to carefully judge the number of lights required by the size of your room.


The next thing to look at is the size of your dining table.


Light height for different-sized dining tables


Mulitple pendants
Multiple pendants


It’s no secret that the proper lighting can make or break a space. And when it comes to dining rooms, getting the lighting right is crucial.


After all, this is the room where you entertain guests and host dinner parties. The last thing you want is for your guests to feel uncomfortable or for the space to feel too dim or too bright.


So how do you achieve the perfect lighting in your dining room? It all comes down to choosing the right light fixtures and placing them at the correct height.


A small table will require smaller light fixtures than a large table. So a few small pendants or a medium size one could do the trick.




  • Less light to look after and maintain
  • Easy to install and wire up
  • With a small table, it is better to hang the lights up a bit higher than you would o with a large table. This is because there is more chance of hitting your head into it.


Any light should be just above eye height for a safe approach to prevent bumps and hits.


Next up is the ceiling height.


Ceiling height

Low hanging dining lights
Low hanging dining lights


Ceiling height is one of the most important factors when choosing a light for your dining room. A high ceiling will require more light to adequately illuminate the space. In contrast, a low ceiling can be illuminated with fewer lights.


In addition to the amount of light needed, ceiling height also affects the type of lighting best for your dining room. Chandeliers and pendant lights are best suited for rooms with high ceilings. At the same time, flush mount or recessed lighting is better for lower ceilings.


When lighting your dining room, consider ceiling height to ensure that you select fixtures that will provide the right amount of light and create the desired ambience.


Size of the diners and are they mainly adults or children.


The height of guests in a dining room matters for lighting purposes, and this is because the taller the guests, the higher the light fixtures need.


If the light fixtures are too low, they will glare on people’s faces and make it difficult to see.


Some experts say the ideal height for light fixtures in a dining room is about 30 inches above the table. This allows guests to see each other clearly and enjoy their meal without discomfort.


However, if you have a tall family, you must raise it more.


And to compensate for the, right, you would add a more powerful bulb or an extra light.


large dining room with pendants
large dining room with pendants


Material of dining table. Yes, that is true, but we’ll get into this later.


When choosing the right dining table, many people focus on the style and forget the materials. However, your dining table’s material can significantly impact the look of your room. Here are a few reasons why material matters for your dining table: 


The first reason is that different materials reflect light differently.


For example, darker woods absorb light while lighter woods reflect it. When trying to create a certain ambience, this can make a big difference in your room’s appearance. If you want a bright and airy feel, you’ll want to choose lighter wood. 


Another reason why material matters are because different materials have different textures. This can impact both the look and feel of your room. A smooth, glossy surface will give off a different vibe than a rough, rustic one.


Glass dining tables can also reflect light. So if you want to prevent a gleaming table, do not add strong pendants or spotlights above your tables.


Marble tables are in between, and they also reflect the light, but just not as much. So once again, keep this in mind when installing a light above your marble table.


Low hanging pendants with natural light 2
Low hanging pendants with natural light


Natural light in your room


The number of windows and the height of the ceilings can also affect how much light is needed in a dining room.


This is still the case in the evenings when curtains are drawn, or blinds are down. If you have small window space, you add some lights to compensate. Remember that you might have a cramped look while not using them during the day.


And cramping any area might cause anxiety and restlessness, something you just don’t want at the dinner table when your’ trying to wind down and enjoy your dinner.


Considering these factors, you can choose the best lights for your dining room to make it shine.


A well-lit dining room is crucial for hosting dinner parties and enjoying family meals.


Why the right height lights are so crucial for dining tables


The answer may depend on the type of fixture you’re using. For example, chandeliers are often hung much higher than other light fixtures. This is because they provide ambient lighting to illuminate the whole room, not just the table.


Suppose you’re using a pendant light or other hanging fixture. In that case, it’s generally best to hang it about 30-36 inches above the table for a family of average height. This will ensure enough light to see your food, but not so much that it’s blinding.


Finally, if you’re using recessed lights, they should be spaced about 2 feet apart and placed around 3 feet above the table.


All in all, the proper lighting can help to set the mood for your meal. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two or a fun family gathering, the appropriate lighting can help to create the perfect ambience.


Why are lights so crucial for dining tables


It’s no secret that most people enjoy dining by candlelight. There’s something about the soft, flickering light that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. 


The proper lighting can help to set the mood for your meal.


Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two or a fun family gathering, the appropriate lighting can help to create the perfect ambience.


Low ceilings with pendant lights
Low ceilings with pendant lights

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