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Why Apartments Don’t Have Ceiling Lights

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Entering an apartment without ceiling lights is unusual, but it is not uncommon. The good news is you can light a room without ceiling lights with spectacular results. You won’t even miss ceiling lights once you know what to use.

Why don’t apartments have ceiling lights? Which rooms tend to have ceiling lights? Are the bedroom, kitchen, and living room part of the list? Keep reading to learn more. 

Why Don’t Apartments Have Ceiling Lights?

Close up of ceiling lights

The U.S. government adheres to The National Electrical Code (NEC). According to them, apartment building codes don’t list ceiling lights in the outline. Instead, builders add wall outlet plug-ins in each room to adhere to building codes. Because it is not a rule, the designers feel no need to add them as part of the design plan.  

Adding several outlets throughout the room is more cost-effective than a ceiling light. But, even though it saves money, saving money is a secondary reason. The money saved goes toward other apartment features like energy-saving windows, HVAC systems, and home security systems. Still, if an apartment room has a ceiling light, it’s because the apartment wanted to add one. 

How Can I Light My Apartment without Ceiling Lights?

The choices below are budget-friendly options for ceiling light installation. The best outcome is to use at least one light source type from each list.

Artificial Light Sources

You can brighten up apartment rooms that don’t have ceiling lights by incorporating several light types. The logical answer is plugging table lamps, desk lamps, and floor lamps into the wall outlet. The lamps should be in strategic areas to illuminate as much of the room as possible.

You can also plug sconces, chandeliers, uplights, swag, and pendants into the outlet. Before doing so, get permission from the landlord or property owner to avoid breaking the lease. Sconces may need wall installation; the other lights require a hook in the ceiling.

Energy-Saving Light Sources

Save electricity by using a battery-powered or rechargeable light source such as a table lamp.

Indoor string lights are stylish, bright, and energy-saving.

Flameless candles are both luminous and safe to use. LED light strips add concentrated light to specific furniture pieces in the home (i.e., cabinets, a vanity, or a TV stand).

Another energy-saving light source is the window. On warm sunny days, open the window up and let the sunshine inside. The window illuminates the space without using electricity.

Reflective Objects

Add reflective items to bounce or reflect light throughout the area. A mirror across from a light source will bounce off it onto surrounding areas in the room. Glassware and crystal accessories reflect light to make the surrounding area brighter.

Can I Install a Ceiling Light in My Apartment?

Installing ceiling lights

Be careful about this solution. You need permission from the landlord or property owner to change the existing apartment space. You should also review the lease. Never install a ceiling light without written permission.

Once you get permission— and get it in writing— you can install a ceiling light in the apartment room. Always hire an electrician to install a ceiling light to satisfy building codes and prevent electrical fires and mishaps. Be sure to buy a ceiling light that shines downward and outward with bulbs that are easy to change. While the purchase and electrical experts are costly, it’s worth it if you want the job done right.

Do Certain Rooms Get Ceiling Lights?

Apartment ceiling lights are in select rooms that require them. The bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and foyer are likely to have a ceiling light. The dining room, living room, and bedroom are less likely to have one.

Why Don’t Apartments Have Ceiling Lights in the Bedroom?

Apartment bedroom with no ceiling lights

Bedrooms may or may not have a ceiling light installed. Besides code, age is another reason ceiling lights in bedrooms don’t exist. Apartments built in the 20th century are less likely to have ceiling lights.

Besides, it is large enough to store a bed, clothing, chest of drawers, dresser, desk, and nightstands. Therefore, it has the space for external light sources. The wall outlet can power up table lamps, floor lamps, and sconces. For bedrooms with few wall outlets, you can buy a surge protector to add more outlets.

Why Don’t Apartments Have Ceiling Lights in the Kitchen?

Kitchen with ceiling lights

Kitchens usually have ceiling lights added because of their cooking and food storage importance. It’s rare for kitchens to not have ceiling lights, no matter the apartment’s age. Nevertheless, if the kitchen does not have a ceiling light, it’s because the building codes don’t require it. 

The kitchen layout may not have room for ceiling lights. An example is a studio apartment. Since every room shares one large space, a kitchen may share a ceiling light with the other jam-packed room zones.

Why Don’t Apartments Have Ceiling Lights in the Living Room?

Living room with ceiling lights

You would think ceiling lights in the living room make sense because family and guests gather in the area. The reality is it’s about as common to find ceiling lights in the living room as it is in the bedroom. Besides code, you may not find a ceiling light in the living room because of its appearance.

Most flush and semi-flush mount ceiling lights are bowl-shaped. While it’s a space-saving design for high and low ceilings, the bowls cause glare. The glare is distracting and the light bulb is often not bright enough to illuminate the area.

Another reason for not finding ceiling lights in the living room is the abundant space. The living room has the capacity to include a sofa/loveseat/sectional, accent chairs, a rug, a TV, a TV stand, and a bookcase. With several wall outlets available, you can add a surge protector.

Surge protectors add more plug-ins perfect for a table lamp, floor lamp, and sconces to light up the space without a ceiling light.


Why don’t apartments have ceiling lights? It’s most likely due to the building code and financial savings. However, you can add reflective items and outlet light sources to the room to help brighten it up. Be sure to place them in areas to blanket the entire room with radiance.

You can light up a room without a ceiling light. As a reminder, never install ceiling lights or any other light without written permission from the landlord or property owner. We encourage you to share your insight with our readers in the comment box below.

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