Perfect kitchen lighting can be achieved through the use of a combination of different types. These can be neatly divided into four main types, general, task, accent and ambient lighting. I shall deal with each aspect of the design and function in turn, with some tips on how to achieve the best results.
Kitchen Task Lighting.
Kitchen task lighting is as the name suggests, lights fitted in such a way that they illuminate the task at hand making it easier and safer. In the kitchen, this will be mainly cooking or associated tasks such as reading a recipe and making a cup of coffee. Good task lighting will ensure that you have the same number of fingers that you started with after chopping the vegetables with your extra sharp knife.
The main areas in a kitchen that require good task lighting are directly above the cooker and above the work surface or worktop. If you have a bright and airy kitchen with plenty of windows, then you will probably only need task lighting early in the morning or during the evening. In addition, it is a very important secondary lighting source for any kitchen giving a low-level background glow if used on its own.
The best way to achieve adequate worktop lighting is by installing kitchen under cupboard lights. If you have a plinth around the cupboard base, then you are able to hide the lights completely should you so wish. It may well be that you want them on show to complement other objects in the kitchen. Under cabinet lights are available in many types and styles to complement almost any type of kitchen design.
Linear fluorescent under cabinet lights are very competitively priced and are efficient and effective in use, although they are now a little dated but continue to be popular. Fluorescent worktop lights are not dimmable.
They are available in different lengths and wattages from 6w – 30w in order that they may be fitted to different sized kitchen cabinets. They are mains voltage and have an on/off switch on the side so that they can be turned on and off independently of each other. They are linkable so that you only need a power feed from one end of the run.
Low voltage halogen under cabinet lights are bright, reasonably priced and are available in a multitude of styles and finishes from contemporary glass to solid copper. They are normally mounted on the underside of a cupboard and shine directly onto the work surface beneath. They are available to buy singly or in kits of three, complete with an easy fit plug and play transformer. Some are shallow enough to be completely recessed into the cupboard making them completely invisible.
The only disadvantage is that halogen bulbs run quite hot and you will have to replace the lamps regularly, although they are cheap to buy. Thy can be dimmed but you may need a specialist dimmer depending on the type of transformer used. To be effective, this type of under cabinet light should be installed every 500 – 600mm. This will ensure an even spread of light across the whole work surface and minimise shadows.
If you have granite, marble or any other stone worktop then this type of direct light can look stunning as it picks out pools of reflective highlights making them shine like diamonds.
LED under cabinet lights are becoming increasingly popular due to their modern look, low running costs and long lifetime. They are available in the same styles as low voltage lights and also in a linear strip. The linear LED lights come in either a flat or triangular profile depending on whether they will be in view or not. They are available in either cool white or a more yellow warm white and are dimmable. They are linkable so that you only need a power feed from one end of the run.
LED under cabinet lighting is more expensive than its halogen counterpart, but it is very cheap to run, extremely efficient and will last for years and years. It is truly a fit and forget solution that will recoup the extra cost over its lifetime.
The quality of LED worktop lighting cannot be over emphasised. Once again, granite, marble or any other stone worktop will look stunning as the LED’s pick out the highlights making them shine like diamonds.
Task lighting above a cooker will normally be taken care of by installing a cooker hood or extractor with built in lights. If it is not possible to install an extractor hood then careful placement of one or two down lights directly above the cooker will achieve the same result.
Even though this type of lighting comes firmly under the heading of task lighting, it can also be used on its own to create a romantic low level background light for those intimate evenings together or when entertaining.
Use your imagination to find places where the source cannot be seen and the light is bounced off the room surfaces to create a beautiful welcoming atmosphere.
Finally, there are many ways to add a little bling and practicality to your kitchen design. Small LED plinth lights look fantastic, are extremely energy efficient and also play a practical role too. What could be better than leaving them on at night to give a soft warm glow to the kitchen? Perfect for welcoming anyone coming home late or preparing the babies night feed.
Set a budget for your kitchen lighting and use your imagination to create the perfect design for your needs.