Setup Your Kitchen Light Right
Today’s kitchens increasingly function on two levels: as a place to prepare food and also as a place where people seem to congregate and entertain informally. The key to effective kitchen lighting thus lies in echoing that balance between form and function so as to offer a warm inviting ambiance yet also create brightly lit task areas.
Resolving this dichotomy is not actually as difficult as many people imagine. The simplest solution is to totally avoid trying to meet these various competing demands with one set of lights. Instead, use multiple sets of lights each designed for a specific purpose and assigned to its own switch.
Even more effective is to fit dimmer switches to finely control the balance between the various lighting circuits. Now if you need to prepare food you can wash the work surfaces with bright task lighting. But if you’re intending a relaxed meal at the kitchen table then you can dim the under-cabinet lights and throw a pool of light just on the table. Height adjustable pendant lights are ideal for this since you can eliminate glare from the light source itself.
Kitchen Lighting Categories
There are three main categories of kitchen lighting: ambient, task and accent/decorative lighting. Ideally, you should aim to assign each of these groups to its own circuit so the various elements can be individually controlled and blended with each other as required. But if you find that you need task lighting in say two separate zones then further subdivide your task lighting onto two switches.
Let’s examine each of these categories, in turn, beginning with ambient lighting. Ambient light sets the overall background lighting level. Without it, any other lights would stand out too prominently and cast pools of bright illumination contrasting heavily with surrounding dark areas. The best form of ambient light for a kitchen is typically found in recessed down lights and like all ambient lighting, these should always be assigned to dimmer switches to control the background level.
Kitchens are naturally home to sharp knives, hot substances and food whose quality needs to be inspected and so bright, focused task lighting that doesn’t create shadows are crucial. The best form of task lighting is slightly in front of you and directly above where you are working and doesn’t shine in your eyes. In most kitchens, the ideal answer is therefore under cabinet lighting (and these days LED under cabinet lighting as this runs cool and costs very little even if left on for extended periods).
Accent and decorative and lights are used to add interest and highlight off particular features. Low heat LED strip lights and spot lights are made for this since they are easy to install pretty much anywhere and can be set very close to objects or even into surfaces. An obvious area to really go to town is with kitchen island lighting since this usually forms the central feature in the kitchen.
Finally a few expert kitchen lighting ideas… Cluster down lights around particular areas and/or above materials that will reflect the light well. Hang pendant lights fairly low over tables and kitchen islands to focus the light pool (for maximum flexibility use a height-adjustable fitting). Consider lighting at all the levels typically found in a kitchen, not just the ceiling or just beneath wall units.
Lastly, don’t forget the floor. Plinth lights and LED kitchen lighting set into the toe kick board will bathe the floor with light. Enhance the impression of space and make the units appear to float.
Lighting the Kitchen Sink
Lighting the kitchen area has its benefits for both functional and aesthetical purposes, but no so more than the kitchen sink. This area of the kitchen can certainly benefit from its own lighting fixture. And in most cases, it’s drawn into the building plans of a home. But don’t settle for a single ballast and switch. Turn your kitchen sink lighting scheme into something practical and beautiful to accent the most common area in the kitchen—the sink.
To get the most out of your kitchen lighting setup, it’s crucial that you install several forms of lighting. It will greatly help illuminate the kitchen sink area. This typically involves some form of task lighting source for directing bright light to the work space. And an ambient source to illuminate the entire area and soften the effect of the direct task light. Florescent lights work best for ambient light sources while flood style bulbs work best for task style lighting sources. No matter what lighting source you choose, be sure to layer your lights appropriately. It is for the best effect when lighting the kitchen sink area.
LED Track Lights
These lighting sources work excellent for over the kitchen sink area. They can be set directly overhead of the sink and directed to several locations around the kitchen counter space. LED track ceiling lights don’t consume a large amount of energy but produce more lumens than a traditional bulb system. They also are very small and don’t produce a lot of heat. Which is good when you’re already working in a hot location. Most LED track lights are easy to install in existing locations and wire directly to any conventional 110V electrical feed.
Another fashionable yet functional lighting solution for over kitchen sinks is to install a hanging light. These lights are also known as pendant lights. And range in size from very small LED fixtures to large and in charge heavy-duty style ballasts. With a pendant-style fixture, you can be sure you’re going to get a task light that works well to light your kitchen sink—and look good doing it. Some hanging style lights use a thin cord while others use a chain. But no matter what hanging lighting source you install over your kitchen sink, be sure that you have at least seven feet of space from the ground to the bottom of the light fixture to prevent anyone from contacting the fixture.
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