The Best Closet Lighting of 2022

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 May 9, 2022 10:15 AM

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Best Closet Lighting

Photo: iStockphoto.com

Exceptional closet organization and storage are 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. 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. BEST STRIP: Govee LED Strip Lights 32.8ft RGB Colored Rope
  4. BEST RECESSED: Sunco Lighting 10 Pack 4 Inch LED Recessed Downlight
  5. BEST TRACK: Globe Electric Grayson 4 S-Shape Track Lighting
  6. BEST DIMMABLE: Light Blue USA LED Flush Mount Ceiling Light
  7. BEST WIRELESS: imenou LED Closet Light
  8. BEST MOTION SENSOR: Youtob Motion Sensor LED Ceiling Light
Best Closet Lighting

Photo: iStockphoto.com

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 your wardrobe, this will usually get better coverage installing a series of small recessed lights rather than a couple of big ones.

As is the case with any electrical fixtures you’d install in a closet, follow good fire-safety precautions and install recessed lights only if you can maintain a clearance of at least 6 inches between the lights and clothing or other items you store in the closet.

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 you can swivel the light bulbs and spotlight specific areas of your 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 passive infrared (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.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Closet Lighting

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

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 (NEC) guidelines, which stipulate that closet lights should be recessed, or surface mounted without exposed bulbs unless your closet is a walk-in space.

In other words, the size and layout of your closet have everything to do with the kind of lighting you can use in the space. It’s always best to contact your local municipality to see what the exact building codes are in your area.

Material 

The materials your closet lighting is made of is another important consideration and will vary depending on the type of lighting you install. 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 shopping for the best closet lighting, you 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 should be your top choice for closet lighting.

Brightness and Color Temperature 

The brightness and color temperature of your new closet lighting are essential shopping considerations because they dictate how well a bulb illuminates your 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 closet 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 2,000 to 4,000 Kelvins produces a warm yellowish tone; cooler white tones are found in the 4,500 to 6,000-plus Kelvins range. Warmer lights are softer and easier on your eyes, but cool-toned lighting may help you distinguish clothing colors more easily.

Aesthetic 

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

Wired vs. Wireless

Whether you select a hardwired or wireless closet light depends on your closet’s attributes, and your 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 your fixture. These tasks require electrical expertise and are best done by a professional electrician. If you plan to install your new closet lights yourself, be sure 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 you 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.

Our Top Picks

With these essential shopping considerations in mind, we chose some of the best closet lighting options available. From hardwired lights to decorative strip lighting, check out our top choices for illuminating your closet.

Best Overall

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

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 rated and emit 4,000 Kelvins of cool-ish white at 920 lumens. You can expect a long lifespan of about 50,000 hours to help reduce your carbon footprint even further.

This closet light has a 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.

Product Specs

  • Type: Motion sensor
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Brightness: 920 lumens
  • Wireless: Yes

Pros

  • Durable painted steel construction
  • Easy to install
  • Energy Star rated
  • 50,000 hours of use
  • Mounting hardware and installation guide

Cons

  • Some users report issues with the motion sensor
  • Motion sensor cannot be turned off
  • Pricey

Get the Lithonia flush mount light at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best Bang for the Buck

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

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. The lights are powered by AA batteries and last for about 100 hours before the batteries have 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 3,000 Kelvins. Though these lights have ease of installation and wireless construction going for them, the lights’ beam is front-focused, and doesn’t work well when angled. These work best in a smaller walk-in closet or wardrobe.

Product Specs

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

Pros

  • 3 closet lighting units included
  • Suitable for small closets
  • Versatile application
  • 100 hours of use per unit

Cons

  • Not suitable for angled application
  • Batteries not included

Get the Brilliant Evolution lights on Amazon and at Sears.

Best Strip

The Best Closet Lighting Option: Govee LED Strip Lights 32.8ft RGB Colored Rope
Photo: amazon.com

Govee’s LED strip lights are a great way to illuminate and customize a closet space, whether it’s big or small. These strip lights are equipped with extra-bright 5050 LEDs, which last up to 50,000 hours. With six levels of adjustable brightness, you can dim them or brighten them as you wish. You can illuminate your closet with bright white light or have a party in there, because these strip lights can flash 20 different colors. They can be set to flash, fade or jump lighting modes too. The Govee strip lights come with a remote control for easy customization, and there’s also a small on/off control box attached to the strip for your convenience.

The strip lights are backed by 3M adhesive for easy installation and come with 10 clips to hold them in place. The strip can be cut to fit at predetermined intervals, to better customize your space. If you do cut the lights, be sure to have a 4-pin connector on hand so the pieces will work correctly together after they’ve been cut.

Product Specs

  • Type: Strip lights
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Brightness: Unlisted
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • 6 adjustable levels
  • 20 different colorways
  • 50,000 hours of use
  • 3M adhesive
  • Remote control included

Cons

  • Cannot be cut

Get the Govee LED strip lights on Amazon and at Sears.

Best Recessed

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

Sunco Lighting’s recessed LED downlights represent one of the best closest lighting systems for larger walk-in closets. 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 LEDs lights are equivalent to 60-watt incandescents and shine with 3,000-Kelvin warm white tone. These bulbs are also dimmable and have a lifespan of about 35,000 hours.

Product Specs

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

Pros

  • Dimmable
  • Suitable for large walk-in closet spaces
  • Baffle trim
  • Energy Star certified
  • Over 35,000 hours of use

Cons

  • Pricey

Get the Sunco recessed downlights on Amazon and at Sears.

Best Track

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

An excellent choice for walk-in closets, Globe Electric’s track lighting is an upscale system that illuminates your wardrobe with style. It features four light bulbs that can be adjusted in any direction, which gives you 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.

This track lighting system is compatible with Globe Electric’s dimmer switch (sold separately). Though it requires hardwiring, rest assured the fixture comes with all necessary mounting hardware.

Product Specs

  • Type: Track
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Brightness: Unlisted
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Compatible with dimmer switches
  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • All mounting hardware included

Cons

  • May not fit in small closet spaces
  • LED bulbs and dimmer switches sold separately
  • Pricey

Get the Globe Electric Grayson lighting on Amazon.

Best Dimmable

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

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-toned) to suit your preference. 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.

Product Specs

  • Type: Recessed
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Brightness: 1,200 lumens
  • Wireless: No

Pros

  • Compatible with a dimmer switch
  • Comes in multiple finishes and lighting tones
  • Energy efficient
  • Lasts for a long time

Cons

  • Requires hardwiring
  • Some users report manufacturing defects

Get the Light Blue ceiling mount light on Amazon and at Sears.

Best Wireless

The Best Closet Lighting Option: imenou LED Closet Light USB Rechargeable
Photo: amazon.com

This 13-inch, 35-watt LED wireless closet light is great for use in utility closets, wardrobes, and even in small storage cabinets. It’s easily mounted in seconds using either the 3M adhesive tape or magnetic strip on the back of the light. It is equipped with a built-in 1500mAH rechargeable battery that can last for up to four hours of continuous use, or 1 to 2 months in motion-sensor mode.

When the unit’s battery needs to be recharged, simply remove the light from its mount and plug it into a USB charging port. (You can charge it using your phone charger, a computer USB port, or any other charging block that is USB compatible.) This light’s motion sensor can detect human motion up to 10 feet away and will turn off after 20 seconds if it no longer detects movement. It’s designed to turn on only when it’s dark, which conserves the battery for when it’s needed.

Product Specs

  • Type: Wireless
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Brightness: 300 lumens
  • Wireless: Yes

Pros

  • Easy to install; 3M adhesive tape or magnetic strip
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Motion sensor
  • Automatic shutoff

Cons

  • May provide limited light
  • Must be uninstalled to charge

Get the imenou LED closet light on Amazon and at Sears.

Best Motion Sensor

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

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 you need it. 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 you can choose if you’d like the lights to turn on during the day and night, or only at night. The tone of the light can be changed from 3,000, 4,000, or 5,000 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 you have any problems with its product.

Product Specs

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

Pros

  • Detects movement from 16 feet away
  • 3 lighting modes
  • Mounting hardware and equipment included
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Requires hardwiring
  • Not dimmable
  • Some users find installation difficult

Get the Youtob ceiling light at Amazon, Sears, and Walmart.

Our Verdict

For a reliable, high-power closet light, we recommend the Lithonia closet light. This wireless pick has a handy motion sensor, 920 lumens of illumination, and it can fit in small and large closets. Alternatively, for a budget-friendly pick, the 3-pack of Brilliant Evolution lights can be installed on virtually any surface, offer 100 hours of illumination, and are suitable for use in small closets.

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 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 come with 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.

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. It’s always best to check building codes and follow proper fire safety regulations when installing closet lighting, or doing any type of electrical work.

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

For a standard, 20- to 50-square-foot closet, 500 to 1,000 lumens should suffice.

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 7-foot by 10-foot 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.