Do's and Don'ts of Choosing Light Fixtures

Wall with different lighting fixtures

Finding the right lighting solutions for any space can be challenging. When choosing the fixtures, it can feel overwhelming with so many options on the market today. The easiest way to make things easy on yourself is to know the main do's and don'ts of choosing light fixtures.


When looking at the do's and don'ts of choosing light fixtures, it's a good idea to start with the things you should do or know before you shop.

  • Know the differences in the mounting option. Not all fixtures are the same in the way they are installed. There are fixtures you can place inside the ceiling called recessed as well as options that are mounted to the surface and options mounted in a suspended or pendant mount. It's important to look at not just the fixture, but also how you will install it to get the right option.
  • Know your ceiling. It's important to know your ceiling and wiring possibilities when choosing fixtures. If you choose the wrong fixture type in terms of mounting for your ceiling, or you choose a heavy fixture in a ceiling that can't handle the weight, you will run into problems.
  • Make a point to look at lamp type. The lamps of the fixture are important to consider. For instance, if you are looking to switch to LED bulbs, not all fixtures allow you to use these lamps or retrofit them. It's important to choose a fixture that meets your lamping preferences or at the very least has the ability to be updated later on if you choose to do so.
  • Mix and match fixture types throughout the space. You should choose your fixtures in a way that allows you to use several different fixture types. While you will likely want overhead fixtures, you should create layers of illumination by also incorporating other fixtures such as accent lights, can lights, or wall sconces.


While the list of things to do is a good starting point, you should also watch out for these things you don't want to do.

  • Don't forget to check ratings for outdoor fixtures. When shopping for outdoor fixtures, it is crucial that you check to make sure they are actually rated for outdoor use. You can't simply install an indoor rated fixture outdoors and expect it to perform or last as long as one that is properly rated.
  • Don't overdo it on overhead general lighting. While general lighting is important, too many people overdo it and overpower the space with too many fixtures. It's better to use a few overhead general lighting fixtures and then add task lighting such as lamps to get the right illumination levels for the space.
  • Don't compromise on function over style. It can be tempting to choose a fixture based solely on how it will look in the space, but the function of the fixture is the main reason to choose it. The good news is that there are a lot of fixtures on the market today which will give you style and function such as gooseneck lighting.