Frequently Asked Questions - Denney Electric - Electrical and Lighting Supply, Delaware, Delmarva, MIllsboro, Rehoboth Beach, Sussex County, Ocean City

Frequently Asked Questions

Q - How much light do I need in an area to light it properly?
A - There's actually a proven formula for calculating the proper amount of general light (usually expressed as the number of watts) you should have in each room or area of your home.

Multiply the length times the width of the room. Then, multiply that number times 1.5. That gives you the amount of wattage you need to light the room properly for general illumination. Example: A room is 12ft. x 16ft. (12 x 16 = 192). Then multiply 192x1.5 = 288 watts. That means an 8-light chandelier using 40-watts bulbs would give 320 watts, which is even more light than needed. Consider a dimmer to add ambience and to have greater control over the amount of light the fixture produces.

For specific task lighting in areas where stronger light is needed, multiply the area's square footage by 2.5 rather than 1.5 to find the needed wattage. A kitchen work island or a desk area where schoolwork is done are examples of task areas in your home. Layering light with overhead general lighting and task specific lighting, like desk lamps or work area lighting, produces the most pleasing results.

Q - How do I determine the proper chandelier width for a foyer?
A - Add together the length and width dimensions of each foyer area in feet. What you get is the proper diameter in inches for most any chandelier you'll need there. Example: The area is 12 feet by 16 feet. Added together this equals 28 feet. Therefore, the foyer chandelier's diameter should be approximately 28" in diameter.

Q - What about the height of the foyer chandelier?
A - Always keep in mind that the bottom of the chandelier should be at least 7 feet from the floor. That may mean you need a flushmount (mounts directly against the ceiling), a semi-flush (also known as close-to-ceiling fixture, which hangs a few inches below the ceiling) or, if you have a tall ceiling, you may need a 2-tier or 3-tier chandelier.If there is a window above the front doors, center the chandelier so it can be seen from outside. If the foyer is larger, you may also want to include wall sconces in the foyer. Install them against the wall approximately 60" for the floor, 6 - 8 feet apart on either side of the front door or in a doorway leading into the home to other living spaces.

Q - What's the best way to light a hallway?
A - There should be a light every 8 - 10 feet. Either flushmounts or semi-flush fixtures can be used depending on the ceiling height. If you have a long hallway, you may want to install wall sconces for added light and beauty. The rule again is that sconces are hung roughly 60" from the floor, spaced 6 - 8 feet apart along the wall. You may also consider recessed lighting for a clean seamless application.

Q - How do I determine the proper size chandelier for over a dining room table?
A - Here, as in the foyer, the dimensions of the room dictate the width (diameter) of the chandelier. If that doesn't appear to fit because of the size of your table use the table width for the chandelier's diameter. Allowing 6 inches on either side of the fixture and the width of the table. The bottom of the chandelier should be no lower than 30 inches above the tabletop to allow peole seated, at the table, to stand without the fixture being in the way.

Q - When should I use a dimmer switch?
A - Although dimmers can be used in every room, we put this question here, because the dining room will be the location of many varying activities. Intimate dinner party? Dim the lights. Children working at the table on their homework? Bring up the wattage! Dimmers work great for bathroom vanity lighting, bedside reading lights, and anywhere that you would like to control the output of your lighting fixtures for atmosphere and for using lighting to its' greatest ability.


Q - Will a chandelier be enough light?
A - Here again, you should make sure the chandelier has enough wattage (based on the formula in question #1). If you're not comfortable with the amount of light, you can add sconces, portable lamps or recessed lights to add more light and ambience. Layering light adds warmth and beauty to any room.

Q - How do I highlight areas of special interest such as wall art or items inside a breakfront or China cabinet?
A - Recessed or track lighting can focus beams of light onto wall art objects. Various size heads and beam spreads for the lamps can create a variety of effects. Ask one of our certified lighting consultants to help you design a look that works for your home.  Inside a breakfront or China cabinet, you can use specialty mini led or halogen low voltage lighting to provide a beautiful display for your most cherished items. Adding light can make your glassware sparkle.


Q - What is the best general lighting for a kitchen?
A - How much lighting you use is determined by the size of your kitchen area. You can use the formula mentioned previously, take the room dimensions (length x width) and multiply by 2.5 to determine the lighting wattage best suited for "task" rooms like kitchens. However, most people start with a pre-existing 2-light or 4-light decorative fluorescent in the center of the ceiling and want to expand from there. Fluorescent fixtures are less costly, use less energy and provide very good general light output.

Example - A kitchen of 100 square feet or less can use a 2-light fluorescent; up to 250 square feet takes a 4-light plus additional lighting.

* If you are unsure of lighting options, please ask one of our lighting consutants, or come in and see all of our lighting alternatives. Our preferred method of lighting a kitchen, is using a combination of overhead lighting, especially recessed lighting, task lighting over the counters (mounted under your wall cabinets), and decorative lighting over islands/bars to give the most important room in your house, the warmth and welcoming feeling it deserves.

Q - What do I do about task areas such as islands, areas over the sink and counter tops?
A - Besides the general lighting guidelines in the above answer, these areas call for more concentrated lighting since they are normally work areas. Again, you should refer to the formula for task areas in question 1. Soffits above cabinets and other concealed locations add a warm, comfortable atmosphere to your kitchen. A decorative pendant with 2 or 3 shades or individual mini pendants (depending on the size of the island) can be installed over your island for additional lighting and a decorative addition to the room.


Q - How do I light a Breakfast Nook/Dinette area?
A - Decorative fixtures like small scale chandeliers, large pendants with 1-3 bulbs that reflect downward, or a drum style pendant work well for these smaller eating areas.  Use a dimmer to soften the light for mood dining when entertaining and to turn up higher for homework, hobbies, etc. when needed. Again, the bottom of the pendant or chandelette should be 30" above the table surface.


Q - What's the best way to light a bath or powder room?
A - Most of us want to see a clear reflection in our bathroom or powder room mirrors so we can apply makeup properly or shave without cutting ourselves or simply brush our teeth correctly. To avoid shadows and to fully surround your face with flattering light, install a fixture at least 24" wide over the mirror, plus two wall sconces (one on each side of the mirror) at least 28" apart, and 60" above the floor. If you have a double sink vanity, use a fixture over each sink that is almost as wide as the mirror. The light should be mounted 78" from the floor, centered over the mirror.

Q - What if I have a truly large bathroom?
A - Besides the vanity/mirror lighting, you should consider recessed, flush or semi-flush ceiling lighting throughout the room. Showers benefit from waterproof recessed lighting for both safety and practicality.

Q - How high should I mount the wall lanterns around my front door?
A - Approximately 66" above the bottom of the door, slightly above eye level.

Q - How large should my exterior wall lanterns be?
A - No fast and hard rules on this. Basically, it depends on the height of your house's front entrance. Normal range for lanterns would be from 1/5 to 1/6 of the entrance height. See our wall chart in our showroom for a visual reference on mounting fixtures that orient upward or downward and how those relate to door height and width. Again, please consult with our lighting specialists to determine what fixtures best suit your home's architecture and scale.

Q - What are "portables"?
A - Portables are fixtures that can be moved from one area to another and simply plugged in-lamps. Examples include Desk lamps, Table lamps, Floor lamps, Torchieres. All other lighting is direct-wired into your home. Many rooms will need more light in certain areas than a chandelier or other light fixtures can provide. It's important to layer your lighting to add warmth and beauty to your home but also to give your decor depth and interest. Your eyes benefit from having lighting at different heights as well, as they will be less strained when reading and doing other tasks.

Q - Do I really need lamps?
A - Think of the rooms and areas in your home where you need more light for tasks such as homework, reading in a chair or reading in bed. Lamps can provide the needed light for those activities, as well as provide a cohesive way to pull your home decor together.