Tips for Lighting Your Kitchen
"Light is the first element of design; without it there is no color, form, or texture." - Thomas E. Farin, founder of Pegasus Lighting
If the kitchen isn't lit properly, who will notice it? Who will care to notice it? Who will even want to be in it? Lighting can add depth and/or excitement to a kitchen. Let's face it, the kitchen is where you and your family will spend a lot of time, so take the time to light it well so that it becomes an inviting and pleasant space to be in. Bad lighting can be expensive and good lighting does not have to be expensive. LED kitchen lights offer you an affordable long term option to make your kitchen more inviting. Fluorescent light fixtures, kitchen designed track lighting and LED options can help you create your dream space.
Accent lighting adds drama to a kitchen by creating visual interest. As part of the decorating scheme, accent lighting is used to spotlight paintings, houseplants, sculpture, and other prized possessions, or to highlight drapery or the texture of a wall. Houseplants can be accented by aiming an uplight at the wall behind the plant, creating a dramatic silhouette of the plant against the wall. LED kitchen lights are a good option for accent lighting and will compliment any fluorescent light fixtures, kitchen overhead lighting, and track lighting you may have in place.
Think about the importance of the key colors in your kitchen (ceiling, walls, cabinets, countertops, furniture); then use proper lighting to bring out the most dramatic colors. Remember that darker surfaces absorb more light. For example, an all-white kitchen requires 40%-50% less light than a kitchen with dark walls and dark wood cabinets.
Today's dimming systems enable you to accomplish several things: lower light levels to conserve energy, increase bulb life, vary the mood of a kitchen, and alter the brightness of the light to suit the activity.
When recessed downlights are used in the kitchen at least some of them should be centered over the exposed countertop. This is another way of providing lighting that will eliminate someone working in his/her shadows on the countertop. Also, if white trims with white baffles are selected, the downlight becomes less obtrusive, blends into the ceiling a little more, and helps to prevent the ceiling from looking like "swiss cheese.".
When selecting fluorescent lamps for the kitchen try to select T8 light bulbs with a color rendering index (CRI) of at least 85 and a color temperature of 3000K. This type of lamp is usually identified using the number, "830" or "930", somewhere in its product code.
When selecting fluorescent light fixtures for the kitchen try to select those that have instant start T8 electronic ballasts. This will ensure that the fluorescent lamp will turn on without flickering, that the fixture will not give off with much heat, that the ballast will not emit an annoying humming sound, and that the fixture will accommodate energy-efficient T8 fluorescent lamps. Fluorescent lighting is, without question, one of the coolest light sources and modern, high quality fluorescent lamps provide excellent lighting with very good color rendition.
General lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting radiates a comfortable level of brightness, enabling one to see and walk about safely. Since modern floor plans are more open and your guests may want to move more freely from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room, you may want to make sure that there is enough general lighting in the kitchen to encourage this. This type of lighting is intended to soften the lines on people's faces and create a warm, inviting glow. LED kitchen lighting and kitchen fluorescent light fixtures both serve as good general lighting options.
Coves, soffits, over-cabinet areas, and other concealed locations can be used to provide very pleasant, very effective indirect lighting using T4, T5 or T8 fluorescent fixtures.
Layers of Light
There are 3-4 basic types of lighting that should work together to create a well-lit kitchen: general lighting, task lighting, accent lighting, and sometimes decorative lighting (lighting that is used primarily for decorative purposes). A good lighting plan combines at least the first 3 types and possibly all 4 types to light an area, according to function and style. No single light source can provide all of the illumination that is needed to light a kitchen well. In fact, the most common mistake with regard to kitchen lighting is to try to light a kitchen with one fixture centered in the ceiling. You can use kitchen LED lighting for your accent lighting and LED kitchen ceiling lights for your general lighting. The kitchen lighting LED options make the lighting you choose more affordable to use.
This image rotates every 2 seconds to show the dramatic effect that layers of light have in the kitchen.
Line Voltage Halogen Lighting
Line voltage (120 volts) halogen lighting is often too hot to use in or under cabinets. Try using low voltage (12 volts) or line voltage (120 volts) xenon lighting instead.
Low Voltage Halogen Lighting
Low voltage (12 volts) halogen lighting offers a very white, crisp kind of light source that has excellent color rendering capabilities and often makes crystal and good china "sparkle."
In general, pendants and mini pendant lights should be hung about 30 inches above the tabletop and be about 12 inches narrower that the table on all sides.
Task lighting helps you perform specific tasks such a preparing food, reading, sewing, cooking, homework, hobbies, games, or balancing your checkbook. A good example of task lighting is under cabinet lighting. Kitchen LED lighting is a good option for your task lighting. Using kitchen lighting LED fixtures for your task lights will complement the LED kitchen ceiling lights you may have used in other areas of your kitchen.
Under Cabinet Lighting
Under cabinet lighting should be mounted closer to the cabinet front — not near the back of the cabinet. In the kitchen especially this helps to eliminate the possibility of your working in your own shadows. A highly polished countertop (for example, granite) will act much like a mirror and will reflect the image of the under cabinet light quite well. Thus, it might be a good idea to select >under cabinet light fixtures that have a frosted or textured glass cover that diffuses the light as much as possible.
Wall grazing provides dramatic illumination that reveals the texture of special materials, such as brick, stone, or stucco. Wall grazing is uneven, brighter, and scalloped at the top of the wall. For the most exciting effects, use PAR lamps in small aperture recessed downlights. Locate the downlights no more than 12 inches from the wall and the same distance apart. Wall grazing also lights polished surfaces, such as marble without distracting reflections in the surface.
Wall washers are special downlights that direct light up to the top of the wall. They eliminate the shadows, sometimes called "scallops", which are characteristic of simple downlights. Space wall washers no more than 36 inches apart. For the smoothest effect, space wall washers 24 inches from the wall and 24 inches apart. Avoid locating wall washers near doors where they can glare into the eyes of people entering the room.
At night windows become black, reflective "holes" in your kitchen walls. Consider installing some attractive outside lighting that will not only reduce or eliminate the reflection of you looking out of your windows, but will also visually expand the interior space of your kitchen out into the exterior after dark.
Xenon lighting is long-life incandescent lighting that can be dimmed, if need be. This type of lighting can be used for cabinet, bookcase, under cabinet, or indirect cove lighting.