How To Use Household Lighting For Your Videos

A lot of people don’t know it, but they already have the lighting they need in their house. Just because cheap lighting is more available now than it was years ago, doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy new lighting. Often what you have can be used to make great looking videos.

So here’s the deal. With most cameras, you can get decent results using your lamps and ceiling lights. It might require some modification and definitely some experimentation, but you can get great results from your household lights.


Household lighting, or practical lighting as they call it in studios, comes in several flavors. Most homes have a variety of over head lighting and lamps. Most of these lights use some kind of bulb. This is a great time to talk about bulbs.

Most homes have a mix of incandescent, fluorescent and LED light bulbs. You might also have halogen lights. Those are the ones you can cook an egg on from the heat generated by the bulb.

Incandescents are the ones most people grew up with and generally have a warmer, orangish hue. They’re usually not very bright and can be used easily in most situations. Incandescents can also be dimmed, which makes them a bit more flexible.

Fluorescents are the long tubes usually found in the kitchen, although they have come lately in a spiral tube that fits most lamps. These bulbs usually are a bit brighter and have more of a blue and sometimes green hue. Fluorescent tubes are great for creating softer shadows because are bigger. Older fluorescents tend to fade over time and flicker as they age. They also cannot be dimmed.

Lastly, there are LED bulbs. LEDs come in such variety that they deserve their own chapter in the book of lighting. They can be found in many different brightnesses, many different color temperatures and some can be dimmable. So when you go looking for LED lights, you really need to know what you want.


For this post, I’m going to focus on using lamps with LED bulbs, since they are easy to find and the most flexible. What I would start out with is the brightest LED bulb you can find. You will probably also want to get one that is daylight balanced. That means it’s rated at around 5500k (k stands for Kelvin, the measurement used for color temperature).

Here’s where all the fun experimentation comes in. I used a regular table lamp with a 150 watt approximated bulb rated at 5500k. I picked it up at my hardware store. The one I got is dimmable, but I didn’t use that for this video. Beware of dimmable LEDs. They can sometimes cause flickering in your videos depending on your shutter speed and the way it dims.

I set my light up exactly the way I would a softbox light or and umbrella light. It was slightly the to right and slightly above my head. This is a standard lighting setup.

Here’s the video where you can see what I did.

I also had some window light from behind me that helped fill in the room with ambient light. The great thing about household lighting is that you don’t have to pay a lot of money for them. You can experiment as much as you want without spending a dime.

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Author: Conrad