The Need for Improved Kitchen Lighting
Two of the most common complaints we hear from homeowners are:
- the kitchen lighting isn’t bright enough, or
- it doesn’t properly illuminate the places where food is prepared.
If you are experiencing either of those issues, there are a number of good options for resolving the issues without a large investment. Here are five of them for your consideration.
Option 1 – Upgrade your Bulbs
The easiest option is to simply change the type of bulb you use, and there is a wide variety available. A standard light bulb spreads light in all directions, which is fine for a lamp lighting a room.
A standard floodlight provides a cone of illumination of about 70 degrees, which is fine for a stove or countertop. A spotlight delivers a narrower beam of only about 20 degrees, which is better for a task area. Finally, a narrow spotlight bulb focuses the light down to about 12 degrees which really focuses on a small area. Make sure you have the correct kind of bulb in each fixture so that you get the right amount of light where you need it.
Next, consider the wattage of the bulb you are using. A bulb’s fighting effectiveness is also reduced by the amount of distance to the work area. As the cone of light gets further from the bulb, it gets weaker. At a distance of four feet, you only get approximately one-sixteenth of the light, so you may just need to add brighter bulbs, especially if they aren’t close to the task area. When you need bright task lighting in a specific area, keep the light as close to the work surface as you can, use a bulb with the correct cone of light, and use a bulb with the maximum wattage the fixture is rated to accommodate safely. Be sure to consider LED bulbs because they deliver a large amount of illumination from a lower amount of energy usage. You don’t need to change them all at once — just try one or two to see how much difference they make.
Option 2 – Add Under-cabinet Lighting
The addition of under-cabinet lighting is an excellent option for task lighting, because the illumination is in front of you, which eliminates the possibility of shadows from overhead lights, and the light source is only a foot away from the mixing bowl or recipe card. That is direct lighting!
You can get under-cabinet lighting that you can simply plug into your existing outlets or they can be hardwired into the house current by an electrician. If appropriate outlets are not already in the kitchen, an electrician can add them. If the lights come with a plug on the end, this can be cut off by the electrician before hard-wiring them.
Under-cabinet lighting comes in three common varieties.
Fluorescent lights are easy to install, available in different lengths to match cabinet sizes, and are economical to purchase and operate. They are also cool in operation and won’t cause perceptible heat build-up. We recommend you use higher quality bulbs in these fixtures because they provide truer light. That makes it easier to see colors accurately during food preparation.
Another type is Halogen lights, which often come in the shape of a hockey puck. They deliver a bright white and highly focused light and only use a few watts of power to operate. Halogen lights provide excellent illumination similar to sunlight and are easy on your eyes. Some halogen bulbs can get hot, so choose wisely to avoid that type.
Incandescent lights with miniature bulbs come in many styles and sizes and are also inexpensive. They are better for increasing general lighting rather than task lighting because the light is widely diffused instead of focused on one spot in a work area.
For all of these types, the fixture should be located under the lip of the cabinet away from the wall so that the light shines down on the counter. If the mounted fixture extends below the lip of the cabinet, a strip of trim or valance can be added to keep the light from shining in your eyes.
3 More Options Next Week
We’ll discuss three more options next week: track Lighting, Upgrading Existing Lighting, and Dimmers. Please check back then.
Are there other options you’d like us to discuss?
Please contact us if you have any questions about improving your kitchen lighting. We have been serving the Indianapolis area for over 35 years, and we are anxious to help you with your home.