For a long time, I have been contemplating installing indoor stair lights, which led to my interest in exploring what the market had to offer. So I thought it was worth sharing my finding to save you guys some time.
I’ve compiled a list of the best indoor stair lights and a buyer’s guide to help you make a quick and well-informed purchase.
Besides improving aesthetics, indoor stair lights have obvious practical benefits, depending on the type of light you buy and where you install it. So let’s take a look at what’s available to you.
- Best Indoor Stair Lights
- Choosing the Best Indoor Stair Lights
- Best Indoor Stair Lights Reviews
- What Style of LED Light Can You Use on Stairs?
- Verdict: Best Indoor Stair Lighting
- How to Install LED Stair Lights
- FAQ’s LED Indoor Stair Lights
Best Indoor Stair Lights
Best Stair Light Bar
Very well-made stair light bar kit with adjustable light sequencing. Available in multi-color or warm white.
Best Wall-Mounted Stair Light
Classy surface-mounted 120V wall lights offer plenty of flexibility to light up your entire stairwell.
Choosing the Best Indoor Stair Lights
Finding the right indoor stair lights shouldn’t just be all about aesthetics. Other critical features like the mounting position, style, and power source are crucial. The below features need some consideration before you set your sights on the right product for your home.
Stair Light Mounting Position
The mounting position depends on whether the lights are purely functional or an accessory to illuminate the stairway. There are three mounting positions:
For installing lighting within the step recessed lighting is the perfect option to avoid trip hazards and provide a professional flush finish.
Installation is more complex, as the mounting surface will need to be customized with a hole saw to inset the lighting fixture. Of course, the stair or wall cavity needs to be suited to run cables and have enough space to insert the materials. But the results are fantastic and worth the extra effort.
Recessed lighting also provides a high degree of customization. You can connect the lights to low-lit switches for controlled lighting or direct them to illuminate specific parts of the staircase.
Wall-mounted or surface mounting lighting is an easier installation than recessing. It’s a great option if the mounting surfaces in your home are unsuitable for channeling out for recessed lighting fixtures.
In many cases, homeowners find mounted lighting is the only feasible option when doing a retrofit, of lighting into an existing space. It’s cheaper, faster, and often just an easier project to take on.
Be sure to choose the best indoor stair lights and ensure they are appropriately mounted so that light can extend as far as possible.
Strip stair lighting is an excellent example of retro surface-mounted lighting. The lights have an adhesive backing for easy installation However there is also the option to use channel diffusers to conceal the strip and produce a softer diffused light.
Concealed LED Strip Lights
They say less is more, and concealed LED strip lights are a perfect example of this adage. The lights are fitted under the lip of each staircase, creating a minimalistic vibe. Concealed strip lights are flexible enough to fit in areas where another lighting would fail.
They also allow you to create shadow effects that enhance a home’s appeal. Another perk of LED strip lights is that they come in different (RGB) colors, with some of them allowing you to change colors depending on your home’s ambiance. If you’re looking for a modern feel, then concealed lighting is a great option.
Check if the lighting is battery-operated or hardwired. Hardwired lighting is installed permanently and is powered from a 120V mains power or a 12 V low voltage.
120V Mains Power
This is the most common power source for many homes, but the installation process is more demanding and must be done by a professional electrician.
Indoor stair lights powered by the 120V mains power will need careful planning. Due to the power input, they will often need lower wattage LEDs, diffusers, or dimmer capability to keep the brightness of the lights within the scope of your staircase lighting project. As I presume you will be using many individual lights within your plans.
12V Low Voltage
The 12V low voltage option is the most popular power source for lighting systems because of the ease of installation and safety benefits. The primary difference between the 120 voltage and the 12V low voltage is that the latter uses a transformer to power a home’s lighting system.
The transformer reduces the electrical output to the stair lighting saving on energy. Wires are also hidden out of sight, providing a great deal of flexibility in future lighting changes. Besides the low operating costs, 12V low voltage can be installed without professional assistance. Perfect for Home Improvement projects, allowing you to quickly achieve the desired lighting effects.
If neither of the ‘wired’ lighting options discussed appeal to you, then battery-operated lighting systems are a great alternative. They are cheaper and incredibly flexible, allowing you to install them anywhere on the staircase.
However, they do have limitations in terms of light power output and battery run-time. If battery-powered lighting is your only option then give careful consideration to the application and capability of the light.
I would only recommend battery lighting in a small group of lights. It’s not ideal for a full flight of stairs, but great for a cluster of light units on a shorter section of steps. Or for more practical applications such as visibility being a priority over design.
Maybe opt for a battery-powered light that is motion-activated, to help save on battery power and battery life. For battery-powered lighting, check if the batteries are replaceable and how to recharge them.
This feature can make or break the ambiance of a home. The color temperature is critical when selecting LED lights because it complements the interior colors and materials. It also dictates the hue and strength of a light beam.
The color temperature is measured in Kelvins and has a scale of 1000-10,000K. Lighting with the lowest mark emits a red glow, while one with the highest mark produces a blue, clear glow. Try out different Kelvin scores against interior colors and materials to identify the best indoor stair lights for your staircase.
Besides finding the right color temperature, check if the brightness is adjustable. Sometimes, a cool color temperature LED can be overbearing, so a dimmer control comes in handy. The feature shouldn’t compromise energy efficiency, but offer you the flexibility to get your lighting settings spot on.
Look out for motion detectors. The feature saves on power and enhances a home’s safety. Motion-activated lights have tiny sensors that detect movement, so every time you approach the stairs, the light turns on for 30 or more seconds and then goes off.
For battery-powered lighting, it is a great efficiency saver and for 12V low voltage light, motion activation is a really cool feature to have.
A timer setting helps save on energy, and it comes in handy for people planning to leave their homes for a long time. The timer allows you to control lighting over a two, five, or ten-day basis by setting when the light turns on and off.
Automatic timers are the most common, but digital and wireless timers provide more autonomy because you can control lighting from anywhere.
Wireless App Controlled
Transitioning from regular lighting systems to smart LED lighting is energy-efficient and cost-effective. You can switch on the lights whenever you need them and turn them off from a smartphone. Such remote operation allows you to create a schedule and integrate the indoor stair lights with other smart devices at home.
Housing and Mounting Durability
You want long-lasting lights, so you don’t have to replace them every year. The construction material is a telltale sign of durable lighting. Lighting made from aluminum and rigid plastics, for example, lasts longer than fixtures made from flimsy plastic material.
The best indoor stair lights should be weatherproofed to protect them from water, humidity, the sun, and other weather conditions. Check the IP protection degree, which shows whether the LED strip lighting is weatherproof.
A high IP rating indicates the lighting is entirely waterproof, and in this case, an IP65 rating should suffice.
Best Indoor Stair Lights Reviews
Indoor stair lights are an excellent addition to any home that values safety. Here are some of the best indoor stair lights ideas to install on your stairway
Best Stair Light Strip
- Type: LED Strip
- Power: 12V
- Color Temp: 3000k or 6000k
- Dimmable: Yes
- Control: Motion Sensor
- Pcs: 1×16.4ft Strip (300 LEDs)
- Stunning effect creating a modern and well lit staircase
- Available in cool or warm LEDs. Adjustable brightness
- Vast range of timer and motion settings
- Nothing at this price
LED stair strips are known for their offering a modern and clean aesthetic as well as substantial energy savings.
This particular product from Speycer is equipped with a motion sensor option, which means it lights up when it detects movement. It also has a timer function allowing you to choose the duration of light-up time, from 10-600 seconds.
The light comes with many strip modifications and mount stickers to help you customize the strip whichever way you want it. You can cut it to length and then simply use the 90-degree modifications to help you set up the lights around the corners of the stairway if needed.
Did I mention you can adjust the light intensity? The lighting is equipped with six dimmer levels from the dimmest to the brightest setting. This feature is quite handy for homeowners looking for stair lighting that complements the interior space.
I really like these lights. At under $30 per length it really is an easy and cost-effective way of creating a really cool vibe on your staircase.
If your looking for something a little more premium then check out this next option…
Best Stair Light Bar
- Type: LED Light Bar
- Power: 120V or 12V
- Color Temp: 3000k, RGB
- Dimmable: Yes
- Control: Motion Sensor
- Pcs: 10
- Very high quality lighting bars that offer numerous programs
- Precise motion detection with adjustable time delay between each light bar switching on
- Beautiful cascading effect
- Time-consuming installation process
Motion-activated stair lighting not only enhances the safety of a stairway but also saves on energy and increases the longevity of a lighting system. This light Bar Kit from Komigan provides an easy way to illuminate the stairs.
The bars light up as soon as they detect motion, usually within a range of 1.5m-2m, and turn off after a set period. They create a beautiful cascading effect on the staircase, and the fact that you can choose from three lighting modes allows you to achieve the desired lighting effect.
There are two models available, one that emits a warm white color that illuminates the stairway adequately without causing adverse visual effects, or a multi-colored bar system. You can also adjust the light intensity and the amount of time between each light turning on or off sequentially.
This is a very well-made, high-quality lighting system that can be surface mounted either under the stair lip or on the back of the stair vertical riser surface.
Best Wall-Mounted Indoor Stair Light
- Type: Wall Mounted
- Power: 120V
- Color Temp: 4000k
- Dimmable: Yes via 120V switch
- Control: Switch
- Pcs: 1 (16 LEDs)
- Stunning down-lit modern wall mounted stairwell lights
- IP65 waterproof rating so also suitable for outdoor use
- Also available in round puck design and letter box configuration
- May need a professional help to install
These beautiful wall mounting lights will add a touch of class to your stairwell. Purchased individually and fitted by way of 120V mains electrical you have a lot of flexibility as to how many you need and where you wish to position them. 5.5-inch square and fitted with a diffuser to provide a smooth light distribution.
Each unit has 16 LEDs totaling 1.6W. The matte finish is available in gray and black.
These wall-mounted lights are the best indoor stair lights for homeowners looking to install lighting on strategic spots or where lighting kits just don’t offer the flexibility required for your project.
It has a waterproof rating of IP65 which means the light is safe from harmful elements like dust and dirt as well as offers the option for outdoor fitting.
The lighting is powered from the regular 120 V mains power, so may require professional support to install and connect the wiring.
Best Stair Night Light
- Type: Wall Mounted Night Light
- Power: 3AA Battery
- Color Temp: 3500k
- Dimmable: No
- Control: Motion Sensor
- Pcs: 6
- Motion activated battery stair night light, ideally for quick push-on installation
- Mount using screws or the adhesive backing tape supplied
- 100 hours run time with 3AA batteries
This light is a simple battery-operated night light, providing up to 100 hours of run time which is way more than you would need when lighting a staircase. It doesn’t sound like much, but think about how many minutes you are actually on your staircase each day. Maybe only a minute or two.
The light uses a motion sensor to detect motion 10 feet away to light up. It’s only active when it’s dark, and it turns off after 30 seconds of no movement, which helps save on battery charge. In practice, you will get a long time out of these lights, and when the 3AA batteries run out, simply get new ones.
The outstanding feature of these puck-style night lights is just how easy they are to install.
The lighting comes with adhesive tape for fast mounting, simply peel off the tape protection and press them into place. You can also use screws to mount the lighting on the wall permanently.
Best Stair Recess Light
- Type: Recessed
- Power: 120V
- Color Temp: 3500k
- Dimmable: Via Switch
- Control: Switch
- Pcs: 1
- Stylish recessed 120V wall or step lighting that can be mounted horizontally or vertically
- Achieves a near flush finish ideal for modern designs
- Grade IP54 weatherproof lighting also suitable for use as outdoor step lights
- May require professional assistance with installation
If you’re looking for something a bit different, how about this flush-fitted recessed light fixture. 8-inch x 2 ¼-inch matte coated design that is suitable for use in either vertical or horizontal positions. A series of these lights running up your staircase would look uber-stylish.
They are suited to a 120V connection so you may need to get a professional electrician to help install them, but the finished result is stunning.
- Type: Stick On Wall Mounted
- Power: USB
- Color Temp: N/A
- Dimmable: No
- Control: Motion Sensor
- Pcs: 6
- Easy to install just peel back adhesive and stick onto any surface
- Recharge via USB cable
- Detects movement within a short distance
- Light intensity isn’t adjustable
This is another solid choice if looking for indoor stair lights with motion sensors for DIY installation.
They detect motion from 16 inches away and turn themselves off within 30 seconds. They are wireless and take recharge via a standard USB connector.
It comes with a double-sided adhesive that makes it easy to mount it anywhere on the step. The package also comes with screws to help mount the lighting in areas where the adhesive can’t stick.
What Style of LED Light Can You Use on Stairs?
LED lighting is at the helm of stairway lighting, and homeowners use different styles depending on the effect they want to achieve. Here are the most common LED lighting styles for staircases:
Riser Step Lights
This is the most common lighting style used in modern homes. It’s the kind of lighting that looks great on all stairways, including straight stairs, L-shaped stairs, spiral stairs, and straight stairs with a central landing.
Riser step lights are easy to install in stairways with adequate gaps between the vertical part of the step and the lower flat part. In case of inadequate space, e.g., homes with spiral stairs, the lights are placed on the extreme lower base of each step connected to the next. If this is your preferred lighting style, look for warm-hued lights which give off a light glow
Another installation style involves concealing lighting within individual steps. The style is ideal for homeowners looking to make the staircase a focal point of the house while illuminating the space. Lighting is concealed at the nosing of each step to create a more dramatic effect.
The handrail is a critical component of every staircase, and installing lighting on this part is a great way to add a dramatic effect to a stairway. This installation style has two benefits; it lights up the stairs and highlights the handrails, a critical aspect for your safety.
Straight staircases make installing extensive LED light strips easy, but for spiral or U-shaped stairways, you may need to explore other installation styles like illuminating newels. Modern stairways, e.g., glass, have lighting incorporated into the handrails.
Modern stair lighting allows you to explore many styles, and illuminated newels are distinct. Unlike other lighting styles that involve installing LED strip lights on the handrails and steps, this style allows you to place light fixtures on the newels. This lighting style has the same effect as placing lanterns on the pathway.
Wall Mounted Up-Down Lights
The lighting style mimics the traditional wall sconces and is the best indoor stair light for floating staircases. The idea is to illuminate the steps and the underside of the stairway. The lighting fixtures come in different sizes and finishes making them easy to blend into modern and traditional spaces.
LED Strip Lights on String Cap
This lighting provides more flexibility allowing you to install it anywhere on the stairway. The strip lights have a flat, low profile making it easy to cut them at any point and adapt to any part of the staircase. You can install them beneath every step, on the sides, or on the underside.
Verdict: Best Indoor Stair Lighting
Beyond safety concerns, the best indoor stair lights create an aesthetic appeal in any living space. With this guide, I hope you can quickly identify the best indoor stair lights and fixtures to help you achieve both functions. Just follow the links above to go to the product page. Be sure to get the installation process right, too, to avoid safety hazards.
How to Install LED Stair Lights
When installing LED stair lights, you may have questions like the number of lights you need and how high they should be. Here are answers to some of them.
How high should stair lights be?
It’s best to install the light 6-12 inches above every third step of the staircase. This distance ensures the light illuminates the stairway sufficiently. If lower, you may need to install them on more spots. The manual should also help you install them correctly.
How many stair lights do I need?
The answer to this question depends on the type of stair lighting you’re using and the nature of your staircase. In the case of step lights, a good rule of thumb is to install a light for every three steps. However, you can add more or less based on how bright you want the staircase to be. Similarly, install two lights for every tread if the stairway has wide steps.