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My builder is suggesting that I use rope lighting in a large dining room cove. I am concerned that the light output will not be adequate to fill the entire ceiling. What assistance can you provide me on building the cove and the light source?

Rope lighting is a very effective way to illuminate small to medium sized coves. It’s fairly inexpensive and for the most part does a very good job. However, for large coves in big rooms it is not what you need.

Phantom cove lighting strips are commercial grade lighting strips that work well in both residential and commercial applications. They are available with LED energy saving lights, Xenon and Incandescent lamps up to 10 watts. Typical lamp spacing is 4″ on center, so that can give you up to 30 watts per linear foot. Compare that to light rope at 5 watts a foot and you can easily see why Phantom cove lighting strips are much more high performance for large rooms. Phantom cove lights can also be field cut to fit radius coves.

One of the major mistakes that most builders make is fabricating the cove too small. This prevents the light from spreading out into the center of the room and creates hot spots from the lamps. Nothing looks worse than being able to count the number of LED light bulbs in the cove. A cove should resemble the size of a common rain gutter. Roughly 4″ out from the wall and 4″ down from the ceiling, and 2″ deep are the minimum dimensions. The farther out from the wall and down from the ceiling the better the light distribution. If the cove is too deep it will create a shadow and prevent the light from spreading. By installing blocks and shimming the light up or down during the cove or cabinet lighting installation, you can fine tune it to perfection. Make sure the cove is continuous and not full of supports that would be in the way of the Phantom light fixtures.

Another common mistake that interior designer’s and home owner’s make for rooms with lighted coves is using a lacquer finish or reflective wallpaper on the ceiling. The results are disastrous! Always use a matte finish paint or non reflective material when selecting your finishes.

Cove lighting should not be used as the only light source in the room. Other lights in the room should be placed on separate dimmer switches creating a layered approach. Since the cove light is indirect, it is more of an LED accent lighting source than a general lighting source. Properly designed cove lighting can be a wonderful addition to any room or living space. It accents architecture, hand painted ceilings and provides a soft indirect light source.

Thank you for contacting Phantom Lighting System with your questions. We are here to help. Please contact us toll free at 800-863-1184 or visit our lighting blog or mobile website at for specification sheets, installation instructions, and general information.

Our lighting manufacturing plant is located in Houston, Texas with professional lighting sales agents positioned throughout the United States that enable us to service all 50 states including Washington DC, Nashville Tennessee, Las Vegas Nevada. Portland Oregon, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, Tucson Arizona, Long Beach California, Atlanta Georgia, and Los Angeles California.