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Kitchen lighting design specifications:
This article provides details about designing kitchen lighting, specifying the type and distance of lights for different kitchen areas and tasks: counters, tables, cook range top, etc. This article series details guidelines for selecting and installing interior lighting to meet the requirements for different building areas.
Kitchen or Dining Table Top Lighting Specifications
Choose a pendant at least 12 inches less in
diameter than the table’s smallest dimension and mount
the fixture 27 to 36 inches above the table.
incandescent or 40- to 50-watt fluorescent fixture will
generally provide sufficient illumination (see Figure 5-24).
Kitchens require general ambient lighting as well as task
lighting on sinks, ranges, counters, and eating areas.
the high lighting needs of a kitchen, the energy savings
from fluorescent lights can be substantial. Look for fluorescent
bulbs with a CRI over 80 and a color temperature
near 2800K to match standard incandescent lights, or
3500K to match halogen lights.
Our photo (left) illustrates bright halogen lighting installed over a kitchen dining table. Note that depending on how the table may be relocated away from its "design position" some seated at the table may see a shadow over their work or plate.
Ambient Kitchen Lighting Specifications
For efficient general
lighting, use one or more enclosed ceiling fixtures with a
white diffuser that illuminates the ceiling as well as the
space below. In a very small kitchen, placing the ceiling
fixture near the sink and counter can provide effective task
lighting as well.
Our page top photo illustrates generous use of daytime outdoor lighting through a diffusing widow screen, providing good illumination without glare in a kitchen work area.
For night time lighting, and for a softer glow in a kitchen, indirect
lighting can also work nicely with lights placed in coves
and above the cabinets to illuminate the ceiling.
Although not the most energy-efficient, recessed lighting
has become a popular choice for kitchen lighting because
of its sleek appearance and dramatic effect. For even
lighting, use fixtures and lamps with wide beam spreads
and spacing based on a 36-inch work plane (Figure 5-23).
Also see the discussion on “Spacing,” page 202.
As a rough guide, the American Lighting Association
suggests the following minimum lighting levels:
Small kitchens of under 75 square feet: 150 watts of
direct incandescent lighting from up to three bulbs, or
about 60 watts of fluorescent.
Kitchens up to 125 square feet: 200 watts of incandescent
from up to four bulbs, or about 80 watts of
Kitchens over 120 square feet: two watts of incandescent
watt of fluorescent per square foot of
These numbers should be increased by 50 to 100% for
indirect lighting, dark surfaces, lighting placed high in
cathedral ceilings, or use of recessed lights with diffusers,
baffles, or other light blocking trim.
Kitchen Task Lighting Guidelines for Counters, Sinks, Cooktops
Work counters, sinks, and
cooktops all need high lighting levels. Where wall cabinets
are present, under cabinet lighting provides excellent illumination
for counters. Place lights as close as possible to
the front of the cabinets to avoid glare reflecting off the
work surface (Figure 5-23 shown above).
Low-voltage xenon “festoon”
lamps provide bright, even light similar to halogen but
without the high temperatures and pressures, eliminating
the safety concerns associated with halogen. Also, xenon
lamps can be touched with bare skin and provide 10,000
hours of service.
An alternative for lighting at counters is to place a row
of recessed fixtures directly over the outer edge of the
counter. If used for task lighting, place fixtures about 36
inches apart for 8-foot ceilings or 48 inches apart for
10-foot ceilings (see Task Lighting in Table 5-25).
Sinks, cooktops, islands, and counters without cabinets
above can be lit by small recessed downlights or track
lighting. Mini-pendants with 12-volt halogen bulbs offer
an attractive and functional way to illuminate islands,
peninsulas, and eating counters (Figure 5-23).
Watch out: Check with local code officials in your own jurisdiction for specific lighting and electrical safety requirements.
Industry & Trade Associations for Lighting in Buildings
American Lighting Association
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