Closet lighting solutions have come a long way from the old bare bulb and pull-chain. Opportunities created by LED lighting have created a whole slew of new illumination techniques. Discover the new best way to light a closet using low voltage LEDs. And it’s DIY friendly too.


The best way to light a closet and other closet lighting solutions.


History of Closet Lighting

Once upon a time, closets were constricted to simple, utilitarian lighting. This usually meant a single bare bulb in the middle of the ceiling, often controlled by a simple pull chain. Homeowners simply didn’t want to invest in lighting for the inside of closets.

A bare light bulb is a simple, utilitarian closet lighting solution.
Simple, bare bulbs in the center of the ceiling were once the most common way to light a closet. Many older homes still have this utilitarian approach to closet lighting.

Upscale Closet Chandeliers

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the introduction of the custom closet industry. Closets became more than just a hidden corner to stash your stuff. The addition of custom closet organizers transformed the closet into a private dressing area in addition to creating a lot more storage within the same square footage. As a result, homeowners were willing to do a little more with their closet lights. The bare bulb in the center of the closet was often replaced by a fancier closet light fixture — but it was still mostly a single incandescent fixture in the center of the closet.

A Chandelier is an elegant closet lighting solution.
This elegant upscale closet with its Waterford chandelier is definitely a step up from the old bare bulb. But it is still just a light fixture (or two in this case) in the center of the ceiling. Individual clothing racks and shelves are not illuminated except by ambient light cast by the chandelier.

The Advantage of LED Closet Lighting Solutions

LED lighting has brought big improvements and changes to the way we think about modern closet illumination. Flexible tape lighting can be used under shelves and cabinets to light up clothes hanging from a rod or shoes set on a shelf. The focus has shifted away from a single light source in the center of the ceiling to many light sources all around the closet. As a result, there are fewer shadows, and it is easier to see what you’ve got. Owners are suddenly able to use the closet as a complete dressing space instead of just storage. And there are even more benefits. No more mistaking the navy-blue suit for the black one when everything is nicely illuminated. And nothing adds a wow factor to your closet design than a custom closet lighting system.

Variety of LED closet lighting solutions
This closet features several types of LED closet lighting solutions. Tape lighting runs under the shelves and above every closet rod. This provides illumination of hanging clothes. The same tape light strips are installed vertically along the shoe shelves to showcase the footwear. Puck lights over the closet hutch provide task lighting in this essential area.

Types LED Closet Light Fixtures for Best Results

The most practical types of closet LED light fixtures to use are flexible strip lighting and puck lights. These two types of LED closet lights will provide illumination for clothes that are hanging, folded items on shelves, and decorative or task lighting for countertops. If you have a large walk-in with a closet island, it is may still be worthwhile to place a large chandelier over the island. In this case, however, the chandelier often functions more as a decorative element in the closet than as practical illumination.

LED closet lighting components
The most versatile LED closet lighting solutions revolve around flex tape and puck lights. Use flex tape lighting for illuminating hanging and shelving areas. Use puck lights above countertops. For example, closet hutches and dressers benefit from LED puck lighting above the work surface. Both types of lighting can be turned on or off by remote control.

For best results, position the flex tape LEDs under shelves just above the closet rods. Another piece of the flex tape lighting should be installed along the vertical side panel wherever you have banks of shelves or cabinets. This provides even lighting across your shoe storage or the interior of cabinets. Puck lights are best under cabinets or upper shelves to provide either task or decorative lighting for display.


DIY Friendly Installation

LED closet light kits are available online. The systems are low voltage. This is a major reason they are very DIY friendly. There is no wiring inside the wall. Use transformers plugged into a standard electrical outlet and connect all the LED closet lighting to the transformer.

Low voltage transformers for closet lights hidden under bottom shelf panel
The low voltage transformers, components, and wires are arranged behind the toe kick of this closet section. Install a bottom shelf over them to hide everything. But maintenance is not a problem. Accessed the lighting components by removing the shelf and a couple of screws.

The wires are just as easy to hide as they are to install. Conceal the transformers and other components below the bottom shelf of a floor-based closet system. Arrange them on the floor behind the toe kick, Alternately, use crown moulding along the top shelf of your closet to create a screen. It will hide all the wires. Just lay the low voltage components and transformers across the top shelf behind the moulding. They remain hidden from view but are very easy to service if needed by standing on a step ladder. The only caveat to hiding the wiring with the crown is that you will need an electrical outlet near the ceiling to plug your transformers into. Depending on your skills, this may mean hiring an electrician.

Try these modern closet lighting solutions on your next project.

The best way to light a closet is with low voltage LEDs installed under and alongside shelves or cabinets. It is possible to retrofit an old closet with an LED lighting system. But it’s much easier with a new closet. That’s why we recommend that you plan your LED light system along with a new closet design. Buy light kits on closet systems purchased from closets.com with we-design closet orders. Lighting is not sold separately.

Have you tried any LED closet lighting solutions at home? Why not let us know how it went? We’d love to hear from you.

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