Combining pendant and recessed lights to light a dining table

Octus99517January 17, 2011

Hi all, first time poster. I have a 30' x 14' great room with an 8' ceiling and am using one half of the room as a dining room. I am starting from scratch on the lighting. My current plan is to drop a non-dimmable drum pendant light above the center of the dining room table and then to use 4 dimmable recessed lights with par30 75w bulbs in a 7'-sided square around the table. Here are my questions:

1) What should be the total wattage of the pendant light to provide adequate light for the table?

2) Does this setup make sense in general? Any obvious improvements?

Thanks in advance!

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With a configuration like that you are locking yourself (and anyone who buys the house later) into a single location for the dining table. What if you decide later that you want it 5' closer to the kitchen?

I'm not a lighting designer, but I'd recommend a combination of surface mount and pendant lights that provide good general illumination for the entire room. IMO, recessed cans are ill-suited to general illumination and are practical only for highlighting fixed room features.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 6:22PM
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I'm not sure why you would want to surround a pendant with pot lights but agree with davidr on the commitment but disagree on the illumination of the recessed cans. I just installed some in my mothers kitchen to replace a couple of the existing ones that she had and we only have 65 watt bulbs in them and the lighting is great. Of course it is a small kitchen though. The baffle you choose is what makes the difference in how much light you'll get...Some are made to flood the light, some direct it straight down, and others can be directed to focal points, etc...(not a lighting designer either, so not sure if I'm saying that right, but you get the idea).

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:52PM
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My objection to cans is that they provide zero indirect light. All the light is directed downward, regardless of the beamspread.

Working under cans is much like working in direct sunlight - the combination of bright light and strong shadow stresses the eyes.

Working under well-done indirect light is like working in bright shade or under a partly cloudy sky. The even lighting is much easier on the eyes.

Lighting designers knew that 70 years ago. Some of the original installations in the homes of that era are still in use by old-house fans. They're easier on the eyes than modern cans, even though the total luminous flux may be lower.

Most modern lighting designers seem to work around this limitation of recessed lights by installing very large numbers of cans. However, that fix results in much higher installation costs, more energy use for lighting, and greater heat loss through the perforated ceiling.

Cans are fashionable and some people like them because the source of light isn't visible. They also excel at highlighting room features. However, they are not a very practical system for task lighting and general illumination.

An older friend of mine had her new house built with cans. Within months after moving in, she complained that she couldn't see well enough when working in the kitchen. She eventually had the electrician come back out and install a surface mount fluorescent fixture over her work area. Now she's happy. :)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 2:13PM
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I have a florescent fixture in the center of my kitchen for the last 13 years and I'm sick of it. I don't know much about lighting, but I'm ready to put recessed lights in my 16X20 eat-in kitchen, as soon as tomorrow. That's why I'm up at midnight searching this forum. My fixture casts a dim, unflattering light. It's over the island, and a chandelier is over the table in the bay window. The other side of the room has nothing. I've been unhappy for along time, and need something different. Atleast recessed lights give the room some ambiance, which ain't happening with this florescent thing. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:14AM
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I would try a more modern fluorescent fixture first. With new electronic ballasts and tri-phosphor high-CRI bulbs, the light quality is vastly improved. For a smooth overall light, add indirect T8 or T5 strips on top of cabinets or behind a cove.

If you're not happy with that idea, then consider surface mount and/or pendant lights.

Recessed lights should be your last choice. Granted, they're currently fashionable (though they've been around long enough now that they should be going out of fashion soon). However, they're just about the worst possible means of providing general lighting. They're 100% direct light, no indirect light at all. They also provide extra holes in the ceiling for heat loss in the winter, and require extra expense for installation and operation because so many are needed just to get enough light in the room.

Cans are best used to highlight room features. They are not a good choice for general or task lighting.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:44AM
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