Recessed Light Spacing (photos included)

dinger928February 12, 2007

We have finally selected our recessed lights to use. We currently have a kitchen that will be 11' wide and on the sink side it starts at 8' then climbs to 12' on the opposite stove side. Yes, it is vaulted. The cans that we will be using will be the Halo H25ICAT with the 5060P adjustable trim. They are a 5" light, but our problem is that we, nor any of the lighting shops, can tell us the recommended spacing we should use for these. We were hoping to use 6 of them, but I'm hoping that some of you with more experience or who have just gone through this could land a few pointers before the electricians are here on Friday to wire it all up. The trims use 50W PAR30 in them as a maximum.

We will also be using xenon under cab lights so for the task lighting, I'm not too concerned. Our main goal with these lights is basically just general light.

Anyone care to tackle with the drawings where we should/could place the lights? I know we should ideally have them hitting the edge of the countertops, but as far as spacing goes were stumped.

Drawings/layout can be seen here:


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If the room is about 11' x 18', I think you'll want at least a dozen 50PAR30s in there for general lighting. It's good, especially on the higher, stove side, that you'll have UC lighting. 50PAR30s are a little underpowered for a ceiling that high, so you'd have to place them quite close together to get sufficient task lighting from them.

It would be much easier to suggest placement if you provided a plan view (from above) of the room.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 8:05AM
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Jon/Anyone: Added plan view for you viewing pleasure. With those three drawings you should get a good idea of the size of things.

The actual kitchen itself is really only about 11 wide x 12 long really, so it isn't really 18' long as we will having a small round dining table that has its own pendant over the table thus eliminating needing the recessed cans in the other room. There will also be a pendant immediately over the sink with a 60 watt bulb in it.

Hope this helps, were still struggling to decide how many cans. We are still thinking 3 over the range area and one on either side of the sink.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 3:13PM
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Jon: Wow, thanks for the information. I swear by reading most of your posts you area a closet lighting specialist. That is quite a bit of information to process. We took the time to cut out circles and throw them up in the ceiling where your suggestions were. To our suprise, most of them fell right in the middle of the joists!

Anyway, I wish I could find a way to edit that picture, but how do things look if we did 3 centered across the stove side, two spaced evenly in the middle, and then 2 over the sink run of cabinets, leaving the pendant centered over the sink. This is the layout the DH prefers, but I'm guessing we could remove the over sink pendant that is centered over the sink and put in a can light there, but I like the pendant as it matches the dining room fixure really well. So all in all, this would give us 7 fixtures, up from the 5 we had originally thought of.

Thanks for taking the time to help us out. My DH is about symmetry. He wants things to look uniform, which is why he would like the 3-2-2 approach as they fall within the same joists and I'd rather pick my battles for something more to my style! Any thoughts on this arrangement?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:41AM
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Yeah, I get on a tear now and then. The thing is, I have zero professional training in this, and my methods are a lot simpler than a lighting engineer might use; no 3-d modelling software here, just a lot of reading, intuition, and a spreadsheet I wrote to help me out. I tend to get absorbed in a topic, then get verbose when I start to understand it.

Ordinarily I avoid telling people to put a recessed light over the range (this is a tip I got from a professional lighting designer I've corresponded with), because most of the light ends up falling on the protruding range hood, creating glare near eye level, and casting a shadow on the cooktop. I don't know whether you've chosen a range hood yet, but many have nice little halogen spotlights in them. Anyhow, that's why I didn't put more cans over there. It's a tough area to light this way because the ceiling is high, the runs of countertop are short and confined, and your bulb options are very limited. A third light over there would certainly give you better light on the counters, at the expense of the potential hood glare and cooktop shadow. Pick your poison.

I do think you'll want some light close to the pantry cabinet in the corner, so you can see what you're looking for.

I do think that a couple of lights in the middle are a good idea, because the tight, 25 degree floods I'm suggesting might leave the central floor area underlit. You might consider putting them on a seperate switch.

If you want to hold the sink-side lights to three, I'd just skip the one by the sink, keep the pendant, and position the cans as close as possible to where I suggested. One can is fine for the counter over the dishwasher, but one to the left of the sink will give you rather dim and insufficient light there.

The dramatic differences in ceiling height make this especially challenging. I generally try to plan layouts so that you only have to buy and keep track of one kind of light bulb, but in your case it would be better to use the 25-degree narrow floods on the high side and wider, 40-degree floods on the lower side. I don't know whether you'd be up for that sort of fussiness...?

Another option for providing more ambient light, if you want tokeep a leash on the recessed lighting, would be to conceal some fluorescent tubes behind a crown molding above the stove-side cabinetry. They could bounce their light off the wall and ceiling, and really fill the room with light.

I don't worry much about symmetry, though I do try to create some sort of pattern that makes visual sense, and your room isn't the easiest for that. I tend to look at what's being lit rather than at the ceiling (unless I'm admiring my handiwork), but I realize not everyone feels that way.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 10:32AM
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So if recessed lights over the range are bad (and I understand your explanation, which, up until I read your post, was exactly what we were going to do), then how do you light that area?

Our kitchen is galley, like the OP. We have a 30" cooktop not-actually-centered in a 57" opening, flanked by the wall oven to the left and the (very tall) refrigerator to the right. No uppers across that side of the kitchen, just the vent hood above the cooktop. What do we do to light this? Your warning about the glare on the stainless steel of the hood is (thank heavens) timely but now I don't know what to do to light the area.

Our recessed lights are presently placed on either side of the hood, about one foot out from the back wall.

If it would make a difference, I could sketch a floorplan and figure out how to post it. Do you need that?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 5:55PM
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Hi stw954,

So you've probably got a 12" cab to one side and a 15" to the other... is that right? Hopefully the range hood itself has really good lights in it, because that's the best place the light can come from in that situation.

You might be able to use spotlight bulbs to put small pools of light on those small sections or countertops - I could see low-voltage working well here. If your walls are fairly light-colored, another option would be to use gimbal or eyeball trims, aiming the light back into the corners between the back wall and side wall/fridge, letting it reflect softly out onto the counter.

How high are your ceilings?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 6:19PM
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Nope, no cabinets to the left or right of the hood. Our original plan had them and we were anticipating the undercabinet lights to be the workhorse over on that side.

We're trying to find out if the hood's lights will work if it isn't extended. (It is the GE Monogram slide out.) Worse yet to our problem, the refrigerator will be Liebherr which is fully clad on the sides with stainless.

We won't be doing any prep on that side of the galley but I don't necessarily want it to be a black hole either. I don't care if the center aisle is lit.

Our ceilings are about 8'.

We have five four-inch cans over the other counter (the aisle between the two halves of my kitchen is 42"), and are placed four inches in front of the very short upper cabinets above. (That side of the kitchen - with the sink - looks out onto the living room and we will have very high, 15" tall cabinets whose bottom is 6'4" off the ground...if that makes sense. My husband is that height and I wanted him to be able to easily see under them into the living space because we very often cook together.) So if you have any ideas how to light the counters with undercabinet lighting when the cabinet is 6'4" up, I would greatly appreciate all ideas. I've been wrestling with the lighting problem for ages and can't figure it out. (Everyone says "get pendants" but our apartment is little and I don't relish the idea of things hanging down to disrupt what tiny flow we might have. And traditional UC lights are unpleasant when you can easily see up into them.)

I agree with what you said about the artful casting of light in a space. I want functional, yes, but something that is pleasant would be nice too. I want it all...except fluorescent.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 6:59PM
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dinger928: I am so sorry if I hijacked your thread. I just got so excited that you had a similar kitchen - and problem - to mine. I did not mean to do so.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 7:11PM
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jon1270: If I start another thread (so I'm not rudely taking over dinger's), how do I summon you from the ether?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 7:45PM
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stw954, feel free to start a new thread if you like. I'll see it.

I was referring to base cabinets flanking the stove - just getting a sense of how large the countertop surfaces there are. Are you using the 36" hood, or is there a 30" model?

I can picture the high upper cabs on the other side, and I see the problem. I'll mull it over...

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 7:54PM
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Jon- what calculation did you use to get from "the kitchen is 11x12" to "the lumen output should total 5800." That sure would be a handy thing for us to know when adding up lumens for our own kitchens. Do you include the ceiling height in the calculation or just the floor square footage?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 8:26AM
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I desperately need help on placement of recessed lights. Ceiling height is 8.5 ft. and I will have at least 180 watts in pendant over sink (dimmable) and lights under range hood. The work area is 12 x 10.5 ft. but the
room is 12 x 17.5 with an adjoining 10 x 10 breakfast room which will have a chandelier. Will 7 (5'') floods be sufficient? The 6 ft base cabinet over by the exit door is not a work area--it is strictly a storage area.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 10:59AM
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Oops, I shouldn't have posted my question here. Sorry, I've started a new thread.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 11:08AM
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