Lighting is essential in the kitchen. Functionally you need it to see what you are doing. And aesthetically, the appropriate lighting can add to the style and feel. An important component – often overlooked – is under cabinet lighting. Here are some advantages:
- Added lighting. Under cabinet lighting complements overhead lighting and is especially useful in both adding light to the work area and highlighting the backsplash.
- Elimination of shadows. Shadows will form under the cabinets from overhead lighting. Placing light under the cabinets eliminates those shadows.
- Under cabinet lighting adds to the look of the space.
Here are some things to consider to ensure you are getting the right color, brightness, energy savings and life span.
- Under cabinet lighting is available in normal voltage (120V) and low voltage (12V and 24V). The advantages of low voltage lighting are you can use smaller fixtures, and it produces less heat. But you will need a transformer.
- You have two options. Hard-wiring connects the lights to the existing wiring. Plug-in draws power from a power outlet. This is the simpler and less expensive option.
- Dimming capability. Dimmers, while adding to cost, will let you save energy, and people with eyesight problems may appreciate lower intensity lighting. See below for dimming capability of various types of lighting.
- Fixture lenses. Fixture lenses create uniform light distribution, minimizing reflections and glare.
- Types of lights.
- For the greatest energy efficiency, choose LED lighting. Some fixtures use as little as five watts while emitting sufficient illumination. LED lights can also be dimmed. However, they are the most expensive, although they also last the longest, with energy savings possibly offsetting the initial cost.
- Xenon lights, while technically incandescent, offer greater energy efficiency than traditional incandescent lights. But they are not as efficient as LED and fluorescent lighting. Xenon lights are dimmable, but they will give off more heat that fluorescent or LED lighting.
- Fluorescent lights are also more energy efficient that incandescent lights and tend to have a long life. They also emit little if any heat but cannot be dimmed.
- Halogen lights also are energy efficient and give off a very bright light. However, they emit more heat and have a shorter life than the other energy-efficient alternatives.