The Kitchen is the heart of every family gathering and daily living. Kitchen lighting is therefore important both in terms of atmosphere and function and requires detailed planning. The joy of a kitchen and what it brings to a family can be reduced by bad lighting, what would you prefer in your kitchen? An atmosphere that is cold, flat and uninviting like an office or hospital or a bright interesting and task oriented atmosphere? You can easily achieve the later with good kitchen lighting. Kitchen Lighting Philosophy Think layers of lighting. When we design lighting for the kitchen, we look to provide combination of ambient, accent, task lighting and decorative lighting. The most common mistake in illuminating a kitchen is to attempt to light the entire room with one ceiling-mounted fixture, this results in very high glare from the single light fixture and under lighted areas. A good kitchen lighting plan calls for balanced lighting and blends lighting into the architectural, decorative and task oriented features of the room and therefore avoiding the mistake of providing too much light in one area and having low level lighting and shadows in other areas. "Accent lighting contributes to the overall feel and character of the kitchen and helps to make a small kitchen feel much larger." Kitchen Lighting Techniques Since no single light source is able to provide all the required lighting for a whole kitchen, we divide the lighting to a few categories and dedicate the appropriate light fixtures to each of them. Note that normally, each type of lighting would be controlled with a separate switch or dimmer. 1. Ambient lighting Ambient lighting fills the room with general lighting which provides the key lighting for the room; it is usually not specific and provides the background to other sources of light. Ambient lighting helps to eliminate or softens shadows and makes people feel welcome in a kitchen. Examples for ambient lighting are: o Over cabinet indirect lighting o Ceiling mounted Lights o Wall sconces 2. Task Lighting Since some of the activities in a kitchen may be extremely detailed and sometimes demanding and can even result in injury (like chopping vegetables or curving meat) we must pay close attention to task lighting. Unlike what may be a common thought, the luminance level is not the only important factor of task lighting; we must pay even greater attention to improving the Contrast. For example positioning the light source wrongly may result in reflected light from the counter top which in turn would reduce the contrast and therefore regardless of the luminance level would result in reduction in visual quality and visual performance. Task lighting may be provided using the following lighting fixtures and techniques. o Focused recessed down lights over countertops and other working areas. o Under cabinet lighting. o Pendant lights hung specifically over working surfaces. o Ceiling spot lights. o Monopoint lights. o Track, rail and cable lights. 3. Accent Lighting Accent lighting will provide the background lighting and will provide depth and dimension to the kitchen. For example illuminating the kitchen cabinets, focusing light towards art, recessed light fixtures that are placed inside glass-front cabinets to illuminate China or glassware, etc. Accent lighting contributes to the overall feel and character of the kitchen and helps to make a small kitchen feel much larger. Some accent lighting fixtures and techniques are; o Track, rail or cable lighting to be used around the perimeter of the kitchen to illuminate cabinets, art and other features o Recessed adjustable cans to illuminate the perimeter of the kitchen and any art. o Over cabinet indirect linear lighting which also contributes to the ambient lighting of the room. o Monopoint adjustable lights. o Linear toe kick Lighting under islands or bottom cabinets.
4. Decorative lighting Decorative lighting brings the final touch to the art of creating a special environment with lighting, the decorative light fixtures like chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces etc. bring color and sparkle to the space and add warmth and beauty. Depending on the architectural layout of the kitchen the opportunities to use decorative lighting may be limited. One example for the use of decorative lighting that also provide task lighting is hanging lighting pendants over the bar.
Title 24 We want to note here that California's Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings- Title 24 provides the following guideline for Kitchens lighting: At least half the installed wattage of luminaires in kitchens shall be high efficacy and the ones that are not must be switched separately. Control and Dim your Lights As always we recommend using lighting dimmers as an important part of the lighting system. By using dimmers you are allowing yourself so much more control and the ability to adjust the lighting levels in the kitchen. For example, you may need higher light level for food preparation and or for cleaning but when guests are in and food has already been served, you may want to dim the kitchen lighting to a glow so that the kitchen becomes the background for a nice and relaxed time with the family or friends. We definitely recommend assigning individual dimmers to each of the types of the kitchen lighting, or using more advanced scene control units like the Lutron Grafik Eye.