Your kitchen is a workshop, and it needs to be lit accordingly, both for ease of use and for safety. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be both functional and beautiful. Choosing the right style and placement of light fixtures is a big part of achieving both goals.
When planning kitchen lighting, there are two principal considerations—ambient lighting and task lighting. Each has its purpose and neither can do the job alone.
Ambient lighting is your overall room lighting. In kitchens, that usually means ceiling lights, and often builders install the minimum amount to get the job done—barely. Even larger kitchens may have a single ceiling-mounted fixture somewhere near the center of the room. It can be harsh and can cast unwanted shadows on counters and cooktops when you’re working. You may be able to solve the problem with a different fixture or surface-mounted track lights. The advantage of this approach is that you may be able to do it yourself.
Another option is to install additional ceiling fixtures to spread the light more evenly. Flush-mounted “can lights” in several different styles can be placed strategically, as can surface-mounted fixtures. This gives more balanced light in the kitchen, but involves cutting into the ceiling and fishing wire to the different locations. It’s an advanced DIY project that may be better left to pros.
Food prep, cooking and cleaning all involve working with potentially dangerous tools, and the best way to keep those activities convenient and safe is with task lighting. Lights over the sink and stove are must-haves, and lighting food prep areas like countertops are advisable.
Under-cabinet lighting is a good solution for prep areas, as are ceiling lights or pendants over islands. Low-voltage LED or fluorescent strips are available for under-cabinet lighting, and many are easy to install yourself. High-voltage halogen and fluorescent fixtures are also options.
Installing Light Fixtures
Whether you’re replacing existing fixtures or adding new ones, the basics of wiring them are the same. All fixtures with wiring inside a ceiling or wall need to be mounted to a junction box. If you’re replacing an existing fixture, the box should already be there. If it isn’t, or if you’re adding a fixture, you’ll need to install one. Beyond that, the wiring process is fairly straightforward.
• Turn off the power to the fixture at the breaker panel. Put a strip of adhesive tape over the breaker switch to alert others to not turn it on. Test the wiring to be sure you turned off the right circuit.
• Assemble the fixture according to manufacturer’s instructions. Wait to add the bulbs and covers until it’s installed to avoid breakage in handling.
• Connect the wires using wire nuts. Make sure to connect the same color wires to one another. The hot wire is usually black or red, neutral is white, and ground is green or bare. This may be a two-person job, one holding the fixture while the other makes the connections.
• Mount the fixture in place and add the bulbs and covers.
If you need to change, add or relocate kitchen lighting or switches and don’t want to tackle the job yourself, Allstar Electrical Services is ready to help. Let the expert professional electricians at Allstar Electrical Services recommend ways that you can use light smarter and more attractively in your kitchen. We will gladly inspect your service and give you a thorough, professional assessment of your lighting and wiring needs.
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Allstar Electrical has served the Front Range for over 15 years and is top-rated by the BBB and Angie’s List. We offer homeowners reliable remodeling and repair work that is safe and up to code.
Why risk annoying problems, mistakes and costly re-dos? Before you start your project, call Allstar Electrical at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. Besides a thorough explanation of our services and information about our company, you’ll find timely articles about the latest developments in the ever-changing world of electronics. Then use our handy on-line forms to request an estimate or set up an appointment. We’ll light your way with confidence and beauty.