The Best Closet Lighting to Brighten A Wardrobe

Don’t be left in the dark when picking out your outfit! Here’s how to brighten your wardrobe with a lighting system that best suits your needs.

By Brittany Varano | Updated Jan 23, 2024 2:09 PM

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Best Closet Lighting

Photo: iStockphoto.com

Exceptional closet organization and storage is all well and good, but without proper lighting, the simple task of finding an article of clothing or a jacket can become a major inconvenience. The right closet lighting system will illuminate your wardrobe and make your life easier.

Ross Kesterson, a general contractor and VP of Restore Pros in Northeast Georgia, says, “Lighting can take a closet (or any space) to the next level—if done properly. There are ways to backlight a space to make it more intimate and upscale.” He also explains that the overhead lighting can be chosen to make sure that you’re seeing the correct color of the clothing, ensuring you’re choosing the right shade to pull your outfit together. “Have you ever gotten ready and then went outside and the colors look terrible together? Well, lighting can make or break those situations!” he says.

As you shop for the best lighting for your closet, it’s essential to think about which kind of light, and which special lighting features, will fit your space best. The size and shape of your closet (and whether it is wired for electricity) will also determine the kind of lighting that best suits your wardrobe space.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Lithonia Lighting LED Flush Mount Closet Light
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Brilliant Evolution Wireless LED Puck Light 3-Pack
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Willa Arlo Interiors Theodora 4 Flush Mount Light
  4. BEST STRIP: LepoTec Wireless Rechargeable Under Cabinet Lights
  5. BEST RECESSED: Sunco 4-Inch Recessed LED Retrofit Lighting
  6. BEST TRACK: Globe Electric 4-Light S-Shape Track Lighting
  7. BEST DIMMABLE: Light Blue USA LED Flush Mount Dimmable Ceiling Light
  8. BEST WIRELESS: Mcgor Rechargeable LED Under Cabinet Lights 
  9. BEST MOTION SENSOR: Youtob Motion Sensor LED Ceiling Light
Best Closet Lighting

Photo: iStockphoto.com

How We Chose the Best Closet Lighting

We researched the most sought-after lighting options in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their type, brightness, ease of installation, and other special features included by top brands. While we took the aesthetics of the light fixture into consideration, Kesterson recommends making functionality the top priority: “If it doesn’t function, it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty.”

While searching for the best closet lighting ideas available, the most popular types among users were the motion-sensing, recessed, wireless, strip, and track lighting with LED bulbs. Our top picks come with 55 to 1,500 lumens of light, and select picks include automatic shutoff, remote controls, or multiple finishes and light tones.

While some of these closet lighting ideas require hardwiring, many can be recharged or rely on batteries for power. Plus, those that are battery-powered or rechargeable offer up to 50,000 hours of use.

Our Top Picks

With these essential shopping considerations in mind, here are our top picks for the best closet lights. Whether shoppers want hardwired lights or decorative stick-on strip lighting, we have them covered.

Best Overall

The Best Closet Lighting Option: Lithonia Lighting LED Flush Mount Closet Light
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Motion sensor
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 925 lumens
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Boasts an Energy Star certification, ensuring low power consumption and eco-friendliness
  • Offers 50,000 hours of use, providing a long-term lighting solution
  • Comes with all necessary mounting hardware and a clear installation guide

Cons

  • Some users have reported issues with the motion sensor’s responsiveness
  • The integrated motion sensor cannot be disabled or turned off

Made from durable painted steel, this LED flush-mount light by Lithonia is easy to install and low on power consumption. Its LED bulbs are Energy Star certified and emit 4000 kelvins of cool-ish white at 925 lumens. Buyers can expect a long lifespan of about 50,000 hours to help reduce their carbon footprint even further.

This closet light has a passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor that turns on the second it detects movement and automatically switches off after 30 seconds of inactivity. Included with the light are mounting hardware and an easy-to-understand installation guide for DIYers; it’s available in three lengths, with or without a pull-chain switch.

Get the Lithonia Lighting closet lighting at Amazon. 

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Closet Lighting Option: Brilliant Evolution Wireless LED Puck Light 3-Pack
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Wireless
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 55 lumens
  • Wireless: Yes

Pros

  • Includes 3 closet lighting units; can be used in multiple closets
  • Perfectly suited for illuminating small closets or compact areas
  • Long battery life with each unit offering around 100 hours of use

Cons

  • Not ideal for angled application due to front-focused beam design
  • AA batteries necessary for operation but are not included and must be purchased separately

Brilliant Evolution’s wireless LED puck lights are easy to install and won’t break. This three-pack of lights does not require any hardwiring or hardware. The adhesive on the backs of the lights is designed to stick to walls and other home surfaces. AA batteries power the lights and last for about 100 hours before they need to be replaced, which is longer than most other wireless puck lights.

These LED lights have a push-button on/off switch and a warm-white glow of 55 lumens at 3000 kelvins. Though these lights have ease of installation and wireless construction going for them, the lights’ beam is front focused, and it doesn’t work well when angled. These work best in a smaller walk-in closet or wardrobe.

Get the Brilliant Evolution closet lighting at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Closet Lighting Options: Willa Arlo Interiors Theodora 4 Flush Mount Light
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Flush mount
  • Bulb type: N/A
  • Brightness: N/A
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Combines K9 crystal with a drum-shaped metal frame for an elegant aesthetic
  • Resilient against rust, corrosion, and fading, ensuring long-lasting appeal
  • Compatible with dimmer switches, allowing for versatile lighting effects

Cons

  • Bulbs and dimmer switch required for full functionality are not included

Closet lighting tends to be largely functional, but in bigger walk-in closets, a statement light fixture can completely change the aesthetic of the space. This crystal flush-mount ceiling light from Wayfair is sure to bring a touch of elegance to the closet with its sparkling finish and classic drum-shaped design. It’s made using K9 transparent crystal, which refracts light for a stunning visual effect.

This fixture is compatible with dimmer switches and requires four E12 bulbs, which are not included in the package. It requires hard wiring, so it’s best for closets that are already equipped with the necessary electrical capabilities.

Get the Willa Arlo closet lighting at Wayfair.

Best Strip

The Best Closet Lighting Options: LepoTec Wireless Rechargeable Under Cabinet Lights
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Strip
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 350 lumens
  • Wireless: Yes

Pros

  • Features side-emission design for bright, soft lighting without glare
  • Versatile installation options with magnet attachment or adhesive tape
  • Energy-efficient; lasting 3 hours in “on” mode and 2 to 4 weeks in “sensor” mode

Cons

  • May require frequent recharging, depending on how often it’s used

This two-pack of strip lights from LepoTec features 54 tiny LED lights and uses a unique system with side-emitting bulbs that refract light through a reflector to create bright illumination of up to 350 lumens per fixture, all while casting a soft and gentle light. It’s wireless, featuring a USB rechargeable battery, so it doesn’t require hardwiring.

The light has three operational modes: always on, off, and motion sensor. The motion sensor can detect movement within a 10-foot/120-degree range and turns off after 20 seconds of no activity. The 2,500 milliamp hour (mAh) rechargeable battery lasts for about 3 hours in “on” mode and 2 to 4 weeks when used in “sensor” mode, depending on how often you use your closet.

Get the LepoTec closet lighting at Amazon or LepoTec.

Best Recessed

The Best Closet Lighting Option: Sunco 4-Inch Recessed LED Retrofit Lighting
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Recessed
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 660 lumens
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Offers adjustable brightness levels to suit different lighting preferences
  • Baffle trim diffuses light, creating a softer, more pleasant effect
  • Energy Star certification ensures reduced energy consumption and cost savings
  • Over 35,000 hours of use per light ensures years of usage

Cons

  • Higher price point; the cost may be a consideration for those on a budget

Sunco’s 10-pack of recessed LED downlights is one of the best closet lighting systems for a larger walk-in closet that requires more than one light fixture. These LEDs have a baffle trim that diffuses light and creates a softer and more pleasant viewing experience. Their 90-degree flood beams can illuminate wide areas.

These 10-watt Energy Star LED lights are equivalent to 60-watt incandescents and shine with a 3000 kelvin warm-white tone. These Suncos are also dimmable, have a lifespan of about 35,000 hours, and come with a 7-year warranty.

Get the Sunco closet lighting at Amazon or Sunco.

Best Track

The Best Closet Lighting Option: Globe Electric 4-Light S-Shape Track Lighting
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Track
  • Bulb type: N/A
  • Brightness: N/A
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Dimmer switch compatibility for flexible brightness control as needed
  • Multiple sizes available to accommodate different closet dimensions and preferences
  • Comes with all required mounting hardware for hassle-free installation

Cons

  • Size may be too large for smaller closet spaces

An excellent choice for walk-in closets, Globe Electric’s track lighting is an upscale system that illuminates a wardrobe with style. It features four light bulbs that can be adjusted in any direction, which gives buyers more flexibility than most closet lights. This fixture uses four 50-watt MR16 light bulbs that are not included but are easy enough to find at a hardware store.

The track lighting system is compatible with Globe Electric’s dimmer switch (sold separately). Though it requires hardwiring, the fixture comes with all necessary mounting hardware. It’s available with three, four, or six track heads.

Get the Globe Electric closet lighting at Amazon.

Best Dimmable

The Best Closet Lighting Option: Light Blue USA LED Flush Mount Dimmable Ceiling Light
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Flush mount
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 1,200 lumens
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Can be used with a dimmer switch for adjustable lighting control
  • Offers multiple finishes and lighting tones for versatile design compatibility
  • Highly energy efficient, reducing electricity consumption and costs

Cons

  • Installation requires hardwiring; buyers may need professional assistance

Light Blue USA’s dimmable LED ceiling light works well in larger walk-in closets, and its minimalist brushed-nickel exterior looks great with almost any style of décor. The fixture is available in three lighting tone options (warm, cool, or daylight) to suit various preferences. It uses 15-watt LED light bulbs, which are long lasting and energy efficient. This fixture requires a hardwire installation and can be paired with an LED dimmer switch.

Get the Light Blue USA closet lighting at Amazon or Walmart.

Best Wireless

The Best Closet Lighting Options: Mcgor Rechargeable LED Under Cabinet Lights
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Strip
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 180 lumens
  • Wireless: Yes

Pros

  • Features motion sensor for automatic lighting in low-light condition
  • Dimmable with 5 brightness levels for customized lighting needs
  • Easy to install with strong built-in magnets or adhesive plate

Cons

  • At only 180 lumens, these lights may not be bright enough for some spaces
  • May require frequent recharging depending on how often it’s used

This two-pack of motion sensor strip lights can detect movement in extremely low-light conditions and offers an always-on mode for more prolonged tasks. What sets these strip lights apart from many others on the market is that they’re dimmable, with five brightness levels available for optimal versatility.

These lights are USB-C rechargeable, equipped with an 1800mAh battery that lasts for 6 hours in always-on mode at full brightness or 7 to 30 days in motion-sensor mode. It’s important to note, however, that a USB wall adapter is not included. Users have a couple of options for installation, since the lights come with built-in magnets or adhesive metal plates that are more suitable for nonmetal surfaces. This makes the lights easy to remove and reattach for recharging.

Get the Mcgor closet lighting at Amazon.

Best Motion Sensor

The Best Closet Lighting Options: Youtob Motion Sensor LED Ceiling Light
Photo: amazon.com

Product Specs 

  • Type: Motion sensor
  • Bulb type: LED
  • Brightness: 1,500 lumens
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Motion sensor detects movement from up to 16 feet away
  • 3 distinct lighting modes provide versatile options for various needs
  • Priced affordably, offering great value for its features

Cons

  • Nondimmable design limits lighting flexibility
  • Requires professional hardwiring for installation, which adds to the expense

Youtob’s motion-sensing LED ceiling light is a great option for those seeking a bright 1,500-lumen LED that turns on automatically when needed. Its motion sensor can detect movement up to 16 feet away and switches off after 30 or 180 seconds of inactivity. It has two modes, daylight mode and night mode, so users can choose if they’d like the lights to turn on during the day and night, or only at night. The tone of the light can be changed to 3000, 4000, or 5000 kelvins with the push of a button.

Though this LED light needs to be hardwired, Youtob has made the installation fairly painless. The light comes with the required mounting hardware, a mounting bracket, and an installation guide to make the process quick and easy. Youtob offers an 18-month money-back guarantee if consumers have any problems with its product.

Get the Youtob closet lighting at Amazon.

Jump to Our Top Picks



What to Consider When Choosing Closet Lighting

Other important things to consider while shopping for the best closet lighting are the closet’s layout and square footage, personal style, and the type of light to cast in the space. The closet lights’ color temperature and brightness, for example, can affect how clothing looks.

Type

The most common types of lighting used in closets are strip lighting, recessed lighting, and track lighting. Each option has a different kind of bulb and different types of mounts. Of these different types, some have a motion sensor for automatic turn-on or are wireless and battery-powered for easy installation.

Strip Lighting

Strip lights are flexible cords or strips of tiny LED lights that are usually attached to a wall or other surface with a strong adhesive backing. There is no hardwiring required for strip lighting—just plug them in and use them. These lights are great for lighting up small, dark spaces because the strip is so compact. Many strip lights come with remote controls that allow users to change the color and pattern of the lights, creating a more varied illumination for those seeking to liven up their closet space.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting fits inside a cutout in the ceiling and sits flush with drywall once the lighting is hardwired and installed. These lights are usually round and measure from 3 to 12 inches in diameter. When using recessed fixtures to illuminate a wardrobe, buyers will usually get better coverage by installing a series of small recessed lights rather than a couple of big ones.

As is the case with any electrical fixtures installed in a closet, follow good fire-safety precautions and install recessed lights only if a clearance of at least 6 inches between the lights and clothing (or other items stored in the closet) can be maintained.

Track Lighting

With a track lighting system, individual light bulbs are mounted on a metal bar, or track. What’s nice about track lights is users can swivel the light bulbs and spotlight specific areas of their closet. Track lighting works best for walk-in closets because larger closets usually have enough ceiling clearance to avoid a fire hazard. These lights are also relatively easy to install because they require just one hardwiring point, rather than multiple points (as with recessed lighting).

Motion Sensor Lighting

Motion sensor lights are designed to turn on automatically when they detect movement within their sensor range. There are two common types of motion sensors: active ultrasound and PIR, which uses ultrasonic waves to detect movement. PIR relies on changes in infrared energy, or body heat, to detect motion and trigger the light. Motion sensor closet lighting is convenient because it doesn’t require a light switch.

Wireless Lighting

It isn’t always possible or feasible to cut into ceilings and walls to install new closet lighting. Wireless closet lighting is a terrific option in these situations because it doesn’t require electrical hardwiring. Instead, wireless lights are battery-powered, usually with AA or AAA batteries. Some wireless lights are even rechargeable.

To recharge a wireless light, plug it into a standard USB port or phone charger using the accompanying charging cable. Wireless lights are usually mounted onto surfaces with magnetic strips or strong adhesives made for walls. Most wireless lights will run for 3 to 5 hours of continuous use, or 1 to 2 months of sporadic use.

Closet Space and Features 

Not all types of closet lighting can be used in all closets. As with any electrical wiring or device, fire safety is critical. Many wired lighting fixtures require a minimum clearance of 6 to 12 inches between a light source and a surface. Most municipalities follow National Electric Code guidelines, which stipulate that closet lights should be recessed, or surface mounted without exposed bulbs, unless the closet is a walk-in space.

In other words, the size and layout of the closet has everything to do with the kind of lighting that can be used in the space. It’s always best to contact a local municipality to see what the exact building codes are in a particular area.

Material 

The materials that closet lighting is made of is another important consideration and will vary depending on the type of lighting. For example, frames for track lighting are usually made of metal. These frames, or tracks, come in a variety of finishes to match different décor styles. Recessed lights, on the other hand, are often framed in rings of white plastic resin or silver metal.

Fluorescent vs. LED 

When researching the best closet lighting, shoppers may come across the terms “fluorescent” and “LED” and wonder, what is the difference?

  • Fluorescent lighting is a gas-discharge lamp that requires an electrical charge to start up. It may produce a buzzing sound with age. Fluorescent bulbs have been a reliable source of bright light for years and are more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
  • Light-emitting diodes, or LED lighting, is solely electrical. Compared with fluorescent lights, LED lighting is brighter, has a longer lifespan, turns on faster, and does not require the careful handling that mercury-based fluorescent lights do. LED lighting is also more energy efficient because it uses less wattage to produce equal or brighter light than a fluorescent or incandescent bulb of higher wattage. LED lights are typically the top choice for closet lighting.

Brightness and Color Temperature 

The brightness and color temperature of new closet lighting are essential shopping considerations because they dictate how well a bulb illuminates the space. Watts, the amount of energy a bulb uses, and lumens, which measure brightness, are two important measurements to be aware of.

A small 30- to 80-square-foot space is best illuminated with an LED closet light system of 7 to 15 watts, or 500 to 1,000 lumens of light. (A 15-watt LED bulb is about as bright as a 25-watt fluorescent bulb or a 75-watt incandescent bulb. All three produce about 800 lumens of light, but the LED consumes the least energy.) Larger closets may require additional light fixtures or higher-wattage bulbs.

The color temperature, or tone, of a light bulb is measured in kelvins. A lower rating of 2000 to 4000 kelvins produces a warm yellowish tone; cooler white tones are found in the 4500 to 6000-plus kelvins range. Warmer lights are softer and easier on the eyes, but cool-toned lighting may help users distinguish clothing colors more easily.

Aesthetic 

A closet lighting’s design aesthetic is probably more exciting to shop for than the bulb tone. Though most closet lights are trimmed in simple white tones so they’ll blend in with drywall, other light fixtures are available in black, silver, bronze, or other trim colors.

Shoppers may also want to take their home’s design or style into account when selecting closet lighting and go with an industrial, vintage, or contemporary modern fixture to match the home’s décor. Of course, the fixtures that are best for a particular closet depend on its size. Shoppers have more flexibility to choose a bigger or more ornate closet light if their closet is a walk-in rather than a standard 6-foot-long by 4-foot-wide storage area.

Wired vs. Wireless

Whether consumers select a hardwired or wireless closet light depends on their closet’s attributes and their willingness to put time and expense into a closet-light installation. Installing a new hardwired light usually involves cutting and splicing wires, cutting out drywall, and drilling and mounting hardware to fit a fixture. These tasks require electrical expertise and are best done by a professional electrician. If buyers plan to install their new closet lights themselves, they will want to turn off all electrical power sources and follow safety guidelines.

If there’s a need for a closet light that’s easier to install, consider a plug-in electric light or a battery-powered wireless light. Most wireless lights run off AA or AAA batteries that last for a couple of months. Some wireless lights these days have rechargeable batteries, so users don’t have to worry about purchasing new ones every time the light’s battery dies. Most rechargeable batteries can be juiced up using a simple USB charger.

FAQs 

Finding the best closet lighting requires a lot of attention to detail. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about closet lighting.

Q. Can you put recessed lighting in a closet? 

It is possible to install recessed lighting in a closet, but it will require some hardwiring. Generally speaking, this should only be undertaken by a professional electrician to ensure safety and compliance with local building codes. Check these codes for specific requirements because they often dictate precise distances for clearance between lights and stored items to prevent fire hazards. Opt for energy-efficient low-heat LED bulbs, especially in confined spaces.

Q. How many lumens do you need for a closet?

The ideal lumen count depends on the closet’s size and the type of lighting you’re using. For a standard 20- to 50-square-foot closet, 500 to 1,000 lumens should suffice. This range ensures adequate illumination without being overly harsh.

Q. How much light do you need for a walk-in closet?

The amount of lighting your closet needs depends on its dimensions and your personal preference for how bright you want the lights to be. You can quickly calculate the recommended number of lumens for a space by multiplying the square footage by your desired lumens/square foot (this figure is sometimes called “foot-candles”), or how intense a light source is. For a closet, 20 to 30 or more lumens per square foot is recommended. The calculation for a 10-foot-long by 7-foot-wide walk-in closet, therefore, is 70 square feet x 20 lumens/square foot. This closet needs at least 1,400 lumens.

Q. How do you install a closet light fixture?

It depends on the type of closet light you choose and your closet’s layout. Installing a light fixture can be as simple as removing an adhesive backing on the fixture, or as complex as cutting drywall and hardwiring electrical units. If you have no experience installing light fixtures, it’s probably best to hire a professional.

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