Lighting is essential to our lives. In today’s homes, it serves many needs. These include lighting for performing activities, enhancing décor, creating mood and ensuring safety and security. Good lighting also contributes to health and a sense of well being.
The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in the home. There are many ways to light a kitchen, some ways are better than others. Having different layers of light is the key to good lighting in the kitchen.
A large incandescent or fluorescent flush or semi flush mount fixture will supply plenty of well diffused general or ambient lighting, but it will leave you working in your own shadow. Supplemental task lighting will give you the required illumination needed for food preparation and washing the dishes.
Recessed downlights are useful for both general and task lighting. Recessed cans installed on the leading edge of your counter tops will illuminate cabinets and make it easy to see what’s inside. These recessed lights also illuminate your counter tops, which is perfect for food preparation. To install, evenly space fixtures along the length of the counter, directing light at the edge of the countertop.
Centre housings over cabinet doors or door jambs to provide the best design and most pleasing look. An additional fixture over the sink will provide extra illumination for cleaning tasks. Islands and peninsula’s can be lit with pendant, rail lighting or recessed lights. This type of lighting when used with a dimmer switch can be used as task lighting for homework, hobbies or family business and by lowering the light level for dining or entertaining.
Under cabinet lighting is ideal both for accent and task lighting. A properly lit kitchen counter is essential for safety. Additionally the more task lighting is used the less general lighting is required, helping reduce energy costs.
Types of Under Cabinet Lighting
Halogen lamps offer good colour rendering. They are one-third more efficient and last about twice as long (2,000 hr. life) as traditional incandescent lamps. Halogen fixtures do produce a great deal of heat.
Xenon lights operate at lower temperatures than halogens with comparable efficiency. Xenon bulbs cost about the same as halogens, but they last up to 10,000 hours. They offer adequate light for most task lighting needs.
Fluorescent is commonly used in kitchens and other task lighting areas. Compared with a 100-watt incandescent, fluorescents use 75% less electricity and last much longer. In corporate, hospitality, and restaurant kitchen areas, fluorescent light fixtures work well because they produce low amounts of heat and provide an overall diffusion of light. A special dimmer and ballast is needed with fluorescent fixtures.
LED’s differ from traditional light sources in the way they produce light. An LED is a semiconductor diode. It consists of a chip of semiconducting material treated to create a structure called a p-n (positive-negative) junction. When connected to a power source, current flows from the p-side or anode to the n-side, or cathode, but not in the reverse direction. Charge-carriers (electrons and electron holes) flow into the junction from electrodes. When an electron meets a hole, it falls into a lower energy level, and releases energy in the form of a photon (light). LED technology is rapidly changing. The technology is new and is expensive. Manufacturers like Kichler and Juno have introduced LED under cabinet systems that are easy to install and over the lifecycle of the product will produce significant savings compared to all other types.
When installing under cabinet fixtures, mount as close to the front of the cabinets as possible to avoid glare reflecting off work surfaces. Also, use fixture with a frosted lens or shielding on the cabinet bottom to minimize the glare. Add a fascia or faceboard if necessary. Remember that under cabinet lighting that’s discretely hidden from a standing cook may produce unsightly glare for those seated nearby. Install cabinet facing low enough to camouflage the light and prevent discomfort to those seated nearby.