Planning kitchen lighting

Old 04-02-15, 11:51 AM
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Planning kitchen lighting

While technical questions may arise here, my primary objective in this thread is to figure out what kind of lights and light fixtures to use in our kitchen remodel.

Currently we have two recessed 4' long 2-tube fluorescent fixtures mounted between the joists in the ceiling above the center of the kitchen. There is a weird square recessed "can" fixture above the breakfast nook. There is a round fluorescent surface-mounted fixture beneath a high cabinet over the sink. There is no other lighting in the kitchen.

There is a pantry area which doubles as a hallway from the front entry of the house to the kitchen. It has one of those square cans in a lower ceiling.

We are planning a studs-out remodel of the kitchen so I have the opportunity to completely re-think and modernize the lighting. What should I do?

We learned some things from the existing setup.
  1. All that light in the ceiling is nice for old eyes.
  2. All that fluorescent light in the ceiling is expensive for the amount of light output (160 watts, total, don't know how many lumens) and fluorescent isn't the most attractive light.
  3. Those square cans may have been stylish, and maybe there wasn't a "standard" for light cans in the mid-'80s, but they look weird to us, are probably inefficient (not much light seems to come through their frosted glass panels) and parts are unavailable. These lights are all throughout the house and the thermostats are giving out so some of them switch off/on/off/on at about a 5 to 10 minute cycle.
  4. Task lighting under the upper cabinets would very nice, but task lighting in the ceiling would cast shadows when you work at the counter and would be worse than none at all. That probably shoots down track lighting on the ceiling.

The world is in a transitional period where incandescent lights and even fluorescents are being replaced with LEDs. You can get screw-in LED bulbs (those LED filament bulbs are very nice) but those screw-in bases must be well over a century old. Will screw in light fixtures be around for another 30 years or so (until I die or get sent off to a home)?

Is there an LED solution which would give the lumens and broad light source of those ceiling mounted fluorescents with lower power consumption? Should I retain the trim and frosted panels and just put an array of screw-in fixtures up there which I can populate with LED bulbs? Any other ideas for the main ceiling light?

Under-counter: We have some under-counter fluorescents in a different room and they work well. But is there some superior way to mount an LED under-counter lighting setup that won't look so ugly as those white plastic boxes?

Replacing the square cans: I'm leaning towards just standard round ones, but ideas are welcome.

Thanks for any ideas, observations, leads, or other wisdom anyone has to offer.
Old 04-02-15, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
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My thoughts.

They DO make LED retrofits for fluorescent lamps, some require the ballasts and others require the ballasts to be removed. I do not know the prices or how effective they are as far as lumens produced.

I remember the square recessed lights, I used a couple in my photo darkroom when in my teens (1960s). I actually wanted some for my present house to use as emergency power failure lighting but the only ones I found were horrendously expensive. They DO seem to really cut back on the light emitted as dimly (pun intended) recall.

I detest those circular fluorescent fixtures, I think they are UGLY, among the ugliest fixtures ever made.

In my previous house, built around 1953, I mounted fluorescent strip lights under the kitchen cabinets and the added a face board to conceal them. It gave great light on the counters yet the fixtures themselves were hidden. Today I would opt for LED tubes such as are retrofitted to other fluorescent fixtures.

I have a 4 inch round recessed fixture that I retrofitted to use an MR16 LED bulb in the middle of my ceiling. It is wired with low-voltage fire alarm cable back to a 12 volt power supply in the pantry and that is controlled by an astronomic time clock. It is really a night light yet it gives enough light to move throughout the kitchen, get some water from the refrigerator, take an aspirin or even make a sandwich late at night. I also have a small LED cluster from the same power supply in the front bathroom and it is sufficient for almost everything but a woman putting on make up.

Eventually I aim to install a few more modified 3 inch cans with LED bulbs throughout the house as emergency exit lighting and control them from my fire alarm panel. These and the aforementioned I plan on connecting through a power failure relay to a battery so even during utility power outages I will have light.

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