Kitchen light buying guide

Kitchen light buying guide

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Kitchens are often considered the heart of the home. While we all use the kitchen to prepare our meals, that's not all they can be used for which why it's really important to think carefully about lighting. Read on to find the perfect kitchen lights to optimise the functionality and features of your kitchen.

Important features

  • Kitchen lighting zones
  • Type of lighting
  • Light output
  • Colour temperature
  • Lighting features
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What type of light should I choose for my kitchen?

What type of light should I choose for my kitchen?

Depending on your habits and lifestyle, you might use the kitchen for any range of activities from spending time with friends and family to working from home or even reading. Each of these activities will take place in a specific area in the kitchen meaning you'll need the lights to match.

In the kitchen, it's always best to have one main ambient source of light alongside task lighting and even decorative lighting. By mixing and matching your light sources, your kitchen will be more attractive, functional and pleasant to spend time in.

Three main lighting zones in a kitchen

Start by identifying the three main lighting zones in the kitchen (in addition to any natural light sources):

  1. Overall illumination.

  2. Worktop and cooking areas.

  3. Dining table or kitchen island.

Each of these zones have their own specific requirements in terms of light output and colour temperature. It's important to choose the right light bulb based on these requirements. In terms of design, you should try to find the right pendant light, downlight, flush ceiling light or LED light bar to match the style of your kitchen.

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Ambient lighting: where to install your main kitchen light

Ambient lighting: where to install your main kitchen light

Like with any other room of the house, you'll need to determine where to install your main light source. If you don't want to fiddle with the existing electrics, you will generally aim to install one big light in the centremost point in the room.

However, if you want to redo the electrics in the kitchen, you have a few options:

  • Pinpoint a central spot for your main source of illumination.

  • Install a suspended ceiling and install several downlights to light the whole room.

  • Install surface mounted spotlights in the centre of the ceiling and direct them so that they illuminate the whole kitchen.

  • Install LED spotlights around any ceiling features, if you have any, for efficient and attractive lighting.

In terms of light output, go for a neutral white, medium-bright light.

Worktops and cooking areas: functional task lighting

Worktops and cooking areas: functional task lighting

Worktops, hobs and ovens make up the prep and cooking areas in the kitchen. These areas are used to prepare, cook and bake your meals so you'll need functional task lighting that is bright enough to carry out these tasks. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to prepare food without adequate lighting!

Worktop lighting

Worktops require the most directed light in the kitchen. The light around these areas needs to be bright so you can cook in comfort and limit the risk of cutting yourself.

LED light bars or fluorescent lights will fulfil this role perfectly. These lights provide maximum brightness and can be directed over your workspace. Light bars should ideally be installed under kitchen wall units as under cabinet lights where they can be centred over worktops.

Lights for cooking areas

Lights for cooking areas

The cooking zone in the kitchen is made up of the oven and hob. Good lighting is required here to provide good visibility as you prepare your meals. That said, it doesn't have to be quite as bright as under cabinet lighting.

The ideal solution is to choose a cooker hood equipped with a light which can be used to illuminate the cooking area. If your cooker hood does not come with lights, you can always install a light bar, LED strip or spotlights in the hood yourself.

Lighting a table or kitchen island: warm or neutral lighting

Unlike worktops, tables or kitchen islands don't require particularly bright lights. Go for warm or neutral white lighting for a cosy feel.

The best type of lighting for these areas is provided by pendant lights. Hung over a table or island, a pendant light provides pleasant light that can be directed right where you want it. If you tend to read or use your laptop at the table, go for a light with a medium level of brightness.

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What are the 5 main types of kitchen lighting?

What are the 5 main types of kitchen lighting?

Kitchen lighting comes in all different forms. It's important to pick the right type of light depending on the application – you don't want to dazzle yourself or get caught in the dark! Here are the five main types of light used in a kitchen.

  1. Flush ceiling lights: these compact lights are installed directly on the ceiling.

  2. Pendant lights: these lights are installed in the ceiling and hung by a cable.

  3. Downlights and spotlights: these lights are installed in groups. They can be recessed in the ceiling as downlights or flush-mounted as spotlights.

  4. Light bars: rectangular in shape, these lights are usually fitted over worktops.

  5. LED strips: practical and easy to fit, these lights fit more or less anywhere in the kitchen.

Depending on the size and layout of your kitchen, these different types of lights can be used alone or together. You will need at least two different light sources in the kitchen, regardless of its size.

Flush ceiling lights: great for overall illumination

Flush ceiling lights: great for overall illumination

Flush ceiling lights are compact indoor lights that don't take up a lot of space since they are installed on the ceiling. Ideal as the main source of ambient light, a flush ceiling light should be bright enough to cover the whole room.

In terms of design, there is a huge range of styles available so you're sure to find a model to match your tastes. However, bear in mind that the most important factor to consider is always function.

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Flush ceiling lights

Pendant lights: perfect for a table or kitchen island

Pendant lights: perfect for a table or kitchen island

Pendant lights work particularly well over a kitchen island or dining table. They direct their light to this part of the kitchen, leaving the rest in darkness.

Keep this information in mind when choosing a pendant light for the kitchen. It's best to go for a solid lampshade rather than one with texture or cut-outs.

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Ceiling lights

Spotlights and downlights: for multiple light sources

Spotlights and downlights: for multiple light sources

Spotlights and downlights are used to light the entirety of a kitchen. Downlights are recessed in the ceiling whereas spotlights are flush mounted. In both cases, you need to have several lighting points in the ceiling.

This type of lighting is both efficient and discreet. Spotlights come in a wide range of designs and colours, and can be installed individually or as spotlight bars.

Light bars: under cabinet lighting at its best

Light bars: under cabinet lighting at its best

Light bars are very popular for lighting worktops. Under cabinet lighting is key in the kitchen. Light bars are timeless with a wide range of models to choose from.

The special feature of this type of lighting is that it emits direct, intense lighting over the food prep area. This allows you to prepare your meals safely and with excellent visibility.

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LED light bars

LED strips: highlight the design of your kitchen

LED strips: highlight the design of your kitchen

LED strip kits are a relatively recent invention. However, they have quickly caught on and proved a popular addition to the lighting market.

These lights come with an adhesive strip to be glued on to whatever surface you like. They are often powered by batteries meaning you won't have to wire them to the mains.

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LED strip kits

What kind of lighting is best for the kitchen?

What kind of lighting is best for the kitchen?

Kitchen lighting should be chosen to suit to each specific area of the room. To choose the right type of lighting, think about light using two specifications:

  • light output in lumens;

  • colour temperature in Kelvin degrees (°K).

As incandescent bulbs are generally on the out, watts are no longer really used to indicate light output. The reason for this is that the brightness of modern bulbs with the same wattage can vary.

For a clearer look at the differences, here is a table with different types of lighting along with areas of the kitchen and the kinds of lighting specifications to look for.

Choosing kitchen lighting by zone

Area to illuminate

Type of lighting

Colour temperature

Brightness in lumens (lm)

Entire kitchen

- Flush ceiling light, downlights or spotlights

- 3000 to 4000°K

(white to neutral)

- 3000 to 4000 lm per 10m²

Worktops

- Light bars

- 4000 to 5000 (netural white to cool)

- 900 to 1100 lm over meal prep zone

Cooking area

- Cooker hood light

- Light bar or LED strip under cooker hood

- 4000 to 5000°K (neutral white to cool)

- 800 to 1000 lm over hob

Table or kitchen island

- Pendant lights

2500 to 3500°K (warm to neutral white light)

- 1500 to 3000 lm around table or island

Kitchen units or ceiling mouldings (if featured)

- LED strip

- 2500 to 4000°K (cool to neutral white)

- 800 to 1500 lm per metre of tape

Which light bulbs should I use in the kitchen?

Which light bulbs should I use in the kitchen?

When it comes to light bulbs, LED technology has been the most popular option for a number of years. LED bulbs are durable, produce very little heat and do not consume a lot of energy.

While they used to be significantly more expensive to buy, LED bulbs are becoming more and more affordable. These bulbs can emit any colour temperature from warm to cool depending on the model. You can also opt for halogen, CFL or fluorescent bulbs (for light bars). CFL and fluorescent bulbs emit neutral white to cool light while halogen bulbs emit warm to neutral white light.

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LED light bulbs

Additional features for kitchen lighting

Additional features for kitchen lighting

Your requirements in terms of brightness will vary according to your sensitivity to light. That said, lighting requirements are ever-changing meaning there is an increasing range of options on the market. You can now choose from a range of modular, decorative lighting and options like smart light bulbs.

Spotlights, flush ceiling lights and light bars can all offer special features. What's more, these additional options don't tend to cost a lot more, especially given the level of convenience and comfort they can offer.

Main characteristics of kitchen lighting

Here are the main characteristics and features of kitchen lighting to look out for when it comes to making your choice.

  • IP rating: this rating is particularly relevant to light bars; look for IP24 minimum. This way, you'll be safe in the knowledge that your light can cope with some water splashing.

  • Swivel lights: this feature is really practical for directing light where you really need it.

  • Dimmable bulbs: these bulbs are used to adjust the brightness of the light according to your needs.

  • Colour changing bulb: blue, green, red... each colour creates a different atmosphere.

  • Smart bulbs: control lights remotely using a smartphone application. Some models even come with speakers to play music.

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Indoor recessed spotlights

Kitchen lighting: choosing a design for your space

Kitchen lighting: choosing a design for your space

Of course, style comes down to personal preferences, but it is important to pick a light that matches the overall design of your kitchen. Here are a few examples of some of the most popular styles.

  • Industrial: very on-trend, industrial-style lights tend to be made of metal with functional designs and darker tones.

  • Nordic: natural materials such as various fabrics and wood are often used for this style along with soft and warm-toned colours.

  • Designer: stainless steel is the premier material of choice for this style and can be used in combination with other materials to create elegant and streamlined designs.

  • Retro: a popular option, the materials and shapes used for this style are reminiscent of the years dating from the 60s to 80s for a comforting and warm feel.

Now you have all the information you need so it's up to you to find the perfect kitchen light!

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Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

For several years I have been running a garden service with a clientele of both individuals and companies. I manage a team of gardeners and ensure the creation and maintenance of green spaces. At the same time, I bring my expertise to my clients in terms of the maintenance and improvement of their gardens. In fact, as a trainee and working in the hospitality industry at the beginning of my career, I focused on landscaping in a local community where I acquired solid technical skills through in-house training and the follow-up of major projects in a rapidly changing town. On a personal level, I am equally oriented towards the art of gardening. With my wife, I created our garden from start to finish and I maintain it carefully, the same goes for the vegetable garden. As for DIYing, it’s not to be outdone. Yes, gardening is also tinkering: pergolas, huts, pavements, fences, and so on...There is always something to do in a garden. After working well together, my wife and I are proud of the result and delighted to be able to take full advantage of a friendly and warm environment. So, let us give you advice and help you in your choice of tools, maintenance, or the improvement of your garden, nothing could be simpler.

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