Planning your Kitchen Lighting

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Planning your kitchen lighting

One of the very first things to be considered when planning a new kitchen should be the lighting, as electrics and fittings have to be installed at the start of the project. It’s such an integral part of any design scheme and if it isn’t done at the start of the process, it can lead to problems later. With design options constantly changing and regular innovations in lighting technology, it can be hard to keep up to date with the latest trends and choose the right illumination but designers and specifiers are increasingly aware of the importance and impact of lighting in the kitchen and therefore embrace different ideas and influences.

The primary consideration for selecting efficient task lighting in every kitchen, no matter how large or small, is safety. You need direct lighting wherever any food preparation is taking place – worktops, sinks and hobs – to make sure chopping and cooking can be done safely and without shadows. The ambiance of the lighting is also a very important aspect to consider as a combination of both task and mood lighting is inevitably required. The colour of the lights is also important, as the feel of a room can vary dramatically depending on the different reflective surfaces, strength of the light and other factors.

It is possible to illuminate a kitchen without using any ceiling lights. There is a wide range of spotlights, downlights and strips for use either under or on top of kitchen units. This also allows more creativity as it’s possible to conceal fixtures and fittings.

Under cabinet lights are perfect for mood and task lighting as there are a range of sizes available including recessed or semi-recessed options which are less exposed to grease and dirt. Also, if lighting is likely to be in contact with liquids and/or food, a light with a higher IP rating is preferable. There is no actual regulation requirement for IP rated lights in kitchens but they are easier to clean and you have increased protection from dirt/dust. LED strip lights in place of single light plinth lighting can be a very subtle but powerful way of creating the right mood for the kitchen as well.

COB light fittings are increasing in popularity. Designed to be surface mounted on to the panel of the cabinet or fly-over shelf, it’s an ultra slim contemporary light fitting which is both stylish and practical. High intensity chip on board (COB) LEDs give a wider beam angle and an even bright constant light. The COB doesn’t have any diodes so there are no visible ‘dots’ which is particularly helpful in highly reflective areas. Like all LEDS they use a fraction of the energy needed for halogen bulbs and are a flexible product suitable for all kinds of lighting. In terms of lighting development they are a big step forward, not only for aesthetics but for the safety of the individuals involved. It is unlikely they will be a complete replacement for standard LEDs as some enjoy the classic LED effect and standard LEDs are a less expensive cheaper alternative. However, the quality of the COB lights and the fact they can last between 30,000 and 50,000 hours helps justify the price premium.

LED tape is also very much in demand offering easy installation, the option to diffuse the lights to reduce spotting and a range of different colours including colour changing and different IP ratings to increase the longevity of the item. Due to the increased popularity of bespoke kitchens, profile lighting is also an easy way to cater to the variety of client demands.

The colour of lights is sometimes overlooked but can have a dramatic impact on the kitchen. Cool white lights are a very white light with a slight blue tint and are often compared to that of a hospital or museum. In domestic use they can work well in white kitchens, making small spaces appear larger but can also accentuate the colours of objects. Warm white lights on the other side of the spectrum are more akin to a sunset and have an orangey tint, working well in traditional style kitchens. Lastly, neutral lighting has more flexibility and can be used in any style of kitchen within reason, depending on preference. You could also try experimenting with lights of any colour, adding multi colour LED strip lights for example would mean you coordinate the colour of the kitchen with certain events. 

In this technology-obsessed world, lights controlled by phones and wireless units will most likely improve and enter into mainstream kitchen design. Integration of electronics in a safe manner is an important aspect of many new kitchen builds. Mobile use and the technology involved within this has rocketed in the past decade and in as little as five years has seen global usage double. The pop-up socket, for example, is becoming increasingly popular with USB ports to allow for charging of phones.

It would make complete sense that in future kitchens you can control lights, appliances and a lot more all from your phone. It is certainly possible to do so now and as materials and economies of scale reduce prices for the everyday consumer, we will see an influx of Wi-Fi controlled appliances, lighting and other elements all integrated from the design stage.

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