Light up my kitchen like an operating room! And other issues

breezygirlApril 10, 2011

I want to be able to light up my kitchen like a hospital operating room when I'm busy cooking for hours. I'll put some of them on dimmers too for when I'm not cooking (whenever that is.) Replacing the poor lighting from my old kitchen is one of my top 3 priorities. I took my house reno plans to a local lighting store where the pro set me up with this plan.

Is this enough light in the kitchen? I'm worried about it seeming dark around the pantry. How do the other rooms work?


Red circles are pendants.

Green squares are can lights. (The darker, computer-generated ones in the living room are what exists now.)

Blue lines are UC lighting. (including the one under the upper on the dining room side)

Yellow circle is existing wall mounted fixture.

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As I continually post here, recessed cans are a poor choice for general illumination. They are fashionable, however.

Cans have essentially no indirect light component (reflection off ceiling and walls). They pool light rather than distributing it. You need a lot of them, which increases the installation cost and makes the ceiling look like swiss cheese.

Anything that has an indirect lighting component will be better, such as surface mount fixtures, pendants with translucent shades, or even chandeliers.

Surface mount linear fluorescents provide by far the most effective and economical general illumination, and using several will definitly give you an operating room light level! Just put them on multiple switches to set the amount you want. Alas, fluorescents are out of fashion.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:40AM
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I would guess that you should have enough light.

The simplistic way to count is as follows:
If you want 35 lumens / sq ft for a 350 sq ft area
which will fulfil your needs.

35 * 350 = 12250 lumens for the total area.

Assuming output of ~ 600 lumens per can

12250/600 = 20.42 cans (20 - 21)

Assuming output of 650 lumens, the number drops to 18.846 (18 - 19)

The above does not factor in the output from other light sources.

You will have a shadow zone where the light bar is placed on the diagonal. I would recommend placing 2 light bars perpendicular to each other instead of the diagonal.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:13PM
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Should I open a new thread to ask if anyone can describe why fluorescents don't get the respect they deserve?


I have many thin tubes lighting the counter.
1/2" diameter.
The tubes are available in various kinds of light.
Various kinds of light = not a ghetto-y pale.
Have I found the main objection?

They are silent.
Have I found the second main objection?

I think there is a lot of bias and ignorance about fluorescent tube lighting.
Furthermore, nobody is championing them.
Maybe I should spend more time in this lighting forum with the two davids above and others.


It is good to light up the kitchen a lot.
This is where one uses dangerous tools, moving things around too!
It's a laboratory: a latin word for "working"/operating room/place/space.

Operating under strong light is one of the best supports to the operator.


using high wattage, breezygirl, you are spending a lot.
And forcing yourself to spend more on operating costs permanently.
And forcing the future buyer to accept this permanent defect, or to rip it all out.
Note that "operating" in this paragraph means operating cost, just to continue existence.
Not to produce any result except the fact of being.
Ultimately, it's a sterile existence, just being there.
10% of the money goes to making lumen.
90% of the money goes to making heat.
Then you have to remove the heat from the house.


With LED or Fluo, you get to spend less money.
Because the wattage total is less.
The total Watts being less = less cost of running new circuits.
Why is the wattage less?
Because 90% of the Watt makes Lumen, not heat.

A motto for the 21st century renovator:
"make Lumen, not Heat"

You also blow your money on cooling the house after producing all that heat.
You also blow your money on paying someone to install more electrical capacity than otherwise.
More circuits = cost.
More breakers = space in your electrical panel taken uselessly. Limits what else you can have in the future.

Go ahead, spend your money on heat and call it good.

Here is a link that might be useful: f/u to xenon lights getting hot

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 12:41PM
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A new thread would be better.

Fluorescents do have their place and use. One factor weighing heavily in their favor is cost.

Having said that, it appears that LEDs will dominate the market soon (1 - 2years) for a number of reasons ranging from sheer sleekness (shape), color changes to output per watt (> 100 lumens per watt).

The directionality of LEDs has been addressed in the latest A-lamps from CREE and Phillips.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 1:12PM
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"why fluorescents don't get the respect they deserve? "

The decent CRI bulbs range from moderately more $ to painfully more $$.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 4:23PM
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I agree with Breezygirl that a couple of four-foot T-8 fluorescent fixtures would light the place up nicely.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 7:34PM
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It was the 1/2" thin tubes that were mentioned.

Was that sarcasm ? Who has mentioned T8 here? Who had mentioned 4 foot length tubes?

Too much of one type of white light and you get a binary environment, not a full light.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 9:29AM
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output per watt (> 100 lumens per watt).

David, are you talking theoretical efficacy, or are you buying actual installable home or office LED fixtures with that efficacy? I don't see any real world LED retrofits or fixtures in that range available for purchase - not even close - but I certainly could have missed some.

I do see outstanding performance in the newest bare single emitters, with some reaching 150 l/W now available. Some of these can be pushed to pretty remarkable lumen outputs, but the efficacy falls at those output levels - and remember, you have to get rid of the heat.

The problem is that these are very pricey items. And heatsinking remains a problem, especially when you use multiple emitters in a real world application.

But it does seem that we are getting closer.

One to 2 years for LEDs to dominate the market? I'm not that optimistic. I think they'll still be too expensive for the mass market at that point. I'm guessing more like 5-8 years for mass market acceptance. But I'm not an expert, and I would love to be wrong about this.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:22PM
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Real examples available today.

The led bars from emeraldlights have a quoted output of > 100 lumens per watt.

The Cree LR6 DR can lights (~ $120) have an efficiency > 100 lumens per watt.
The new Cree A-lamp which is expected to appear in the stores soon also has an efficiency around 100 lumens per watt.
Quoted CRI of > 90, power draw 800 lumens.

There's been talk for some time now about reaching the price point of $10 (for led A-lamps). The Phillips A-lamp is available today at $39.95 and has had a discount of $10 (not too long ago).

I would imagine the CREE A-lamp being priced "aggressively" when it appears.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:42PM
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Thanks for the citations! This shows good promise.

Reaching the $10 price point will help mass market acceptance immensely. However, that's where CFs were 10 years ago, and they weren't exactly flying off the shelves at that price. The problem is that the vast majority of consumers look for a low purchase price rather than comparing life cycle costs - otherwise more CFs would have been sold 10 years ago.

When LED retrofits cost say 50% more than CFs, and offer better quality light, dimmability, and longer life, then I think they will really start to catch on. That will happen, though I think it'll take more than 1-2 years. But then I'm a glass-half-empty kind of guy. :) Time will tell.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 12:37AM
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My kitchen will be a similar layout to Breezygirl's. Since we have the lighting gurus present, are the can lights near the cabinets correctly placed for best lighting of cabinets & counters? AND, sorry to go off topic, but can anyone tell me, does a candle-shaped, 60 watt incandescent chandelier light emit as much light as a standard, pear-shaped 60 watt incandescent light bulb?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 3:59PM
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does a candle-shaped, 60 watt incandescent chandelier light emit as much light as a standard, pear-shaped 60 watt incandescent light bulb?

Usually not. A standard 60 watt A19 incandescent will typically produce around 850 lumens; a 60 watt candelabra base torpedo incandescent, about 600-650. The smaller bulb's filament is designed to operate at a lower temperature, which reduces the bulb's luminous efficacy (efficiency).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:18PM
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Davidro, my architect and I are in agreement that the newer electronic ballast tube fluorescents provide the best quality and quantity for U/C lighting at the present.
Which would you choose strictly based on cost, lumens output, and quality of construction and specifically which unit (mfg) in a T-4 or T-5 ?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 10:24AM
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This is a difficult issue: I am going through the same stage. We are remodelling our kitchen and doubling its size from 330 to 660 ft2. I have been researching LEDs and incandescent solutions. I think I will end up with a compromise:LEDs under cabinet and in cabinet and incandescent pendants and cans elsewhere. IMHO, compact flourescents have been a huge disappointment. When they first became available, we started replacing all of our incandescents with them-- even though their upfront cost was nearly 5x that of a good incandescent bulb. We have pretty much gone back to incandescent bulbs. The CFLs proved to have much shorter than advertised lives, they were annoying slow to brighten up (I imagine it takes a while to heat the plasma), they were not as bright as claimed, and they were kind of clunky and ugly. there is also the little problem of breakage and disposal.

I am convinced that LEDs are going to be the way to go. Unlike CFLs they really do have extremely long lifetimes and they are far more efficient than CFLs and far, far more efficient than incandescents. I wish we could do our entire kitchen with LEDs. The problems today are that they have not reached sufficient volume to be competitive, their design features are rapidly evolving (we could end up with a white elephant) and no real standards exist.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 12:58PM
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"more CFs would have been sold 10 years ago. "

you mean the CFs that did not come up to full brightness for many minutes and only had daylight phosphors?

The market has continued to reject CFLs unless they are crammed down everyone's throat.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:49PM
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The market has continued to reject CFLs ...

Not really. The only documented decline in CF sales I can find was in 2008, and that was largely caused by the worldwide economic crash. Last I heard, something like 20% of US replacement lamp (light bulb) sales were CFs. In Japan, it's eighty percent. Possible reasons for this difference will be left as an exercise for the reader.

... daylight phosphors ...

Daylight phosphors have never been common in residential size retrofit CFs. The vast majority offered in stores were and still are 2700K or 3000K, and 82+ CRI.

In recent years "full spectrum" (not really, just 5000K+, which is more or less daylight CT) CFs have become more available. Also, dollar stores sometimes sell the cheapest of the cheap CFs, with obsolete (but cheap) low CRI cool white halophosphate phosphors. Anybody so skinflint as to buy that garbage deserves what he gets.

(FWIW, a drugstore near here is currently selling 23 watt Bulbstar CFs in packages of 2 for $1! I was sorely tempted to pick up a pack to see how they worked, but didn't. I know the parts and labor that go into a CF, and anything sold at that price has to be outright junk.)

IMO, the big issue hurting adoption of CFs has been not short lifespan, but inconsistent lifespan. It's quite possible or even likely that the 6,000 - 10,000 hour averages the manufacturers quote are correct. However, when 3 of the half-dozen 6,000 hour CFs you bought last 12,000 hours and the other 3 fail in the first thousand, you're going to be understandably upset even though the average life is actually better than advertised.

Another factor operating here is simple fashion. Through the early 2000s it was trendy to be "green." CFs were not only so perceived, but also showed that you were thinking long-term. Currently in the US there seems to be a backlash against conservation and even against saving money. Weird.

There's also the entirely understandable resistance people have to being told what to do. What I find bizarre is that this often leads people to do irrational things - folks who despise high efficacy lighting mainly because the law requires it, for example. Or my friend who actually stopped wearing her seat belt, which she'd done for years, when the state passed a law requiring it.

And finally we have a new generation of fearmongers who peddle unjustified worries about mercury (the additional electricity generated to power an incandescent instead releases far more mercury into the environment). They also contend (with no evidence whatsoever) that the reduction in waste heat from CFs means that people will turn up the thermostat and use more energy. Now that is REALLY grasping at straws.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:53PM
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A year ago I built a fixture with six 4-foot T5 tubes to illuminate a dark upstairs room, and it's been great. No noise, excellent warm diffuse light quality, fast turn-on. I'll be as happy as anyone when LEDs become commercially viable, but in the meantime, yeah, this is the way to light up a room. I'll use a surface-mount tube fixture for the upcoming kitchen renovation.

Anyway, for those who are new to this, the new tubes really are different from the old fluorescents.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 11:17PM
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