Guidelines in Selecting Kitchen Lighting

Selecting kitchen lighting is a very important aspect in the design of your kitchen. By now you should have the new kitchen floor plan laid out in detail. If not, go back to kitchen appliances and kitchen cabinets to do the lay out.

Kitchen lighting serves two purposes:

  1. It is decorative as in highlighting something in your kitchen.
  2. It is to ensure you can see all your work surfaces without shadows.

The first item to be determined is HOW MUCH LIGHT do I need? There is no simple answer for this question because if the kitchen has a lot of natural light, the wattage numbers will be low.

By the reverse, if the kitchen is dark (dark cabinets, countertops, flooring, etc.), the wattage numbers will be much higher.

Here are some basic guidelines for selecting kitchen lighting beyond the simple “I like that light” or “the way it looks” you see in the store. So, plan carefully as you will have this fixture for a long time.

Type Incandescent Fluorescent Height above floor
General Lighting 2 to 4 watts per square foot 1 to ½ watts 90 to 96 inches
Dining tables 100 to 120 watts (adjustable) Not recommended 24 to 36 inches above the table
Countertops 60 to 100 watts per 6 SF 20 watts per 6 SF 14 to 22 inches above the surface
Sinks/cleanup 150 watts 30 to 40 watts 24 to 26 inches above the surface
Cooking 150 watts 30 to 40 watts 18 to 26 inches above the surface

Accent lighting:This will provide lighting that shows off a specific area or create a specific mood.

Types of Fixtures: Surface mount, suspended, recessed, track, under/over cabinet or cove or consider any combination of these fixtures.

Dave Altman