Ideal Placement of Pot Lights For Kitchen Reno. Help!

solmanMay 24, 2010

Hello everyone!

Doing a Kitchen Reno and need some good advice on what the ideal spacing/placement for the pot lights should be. Previously there were really... uhumm- UGLY "Home Depot Contractor Specials" 4 inch PAR 20 cans up there. I opted to take them out in place of low profile 3 1/2 inch fixtures with GU10 bulbs which look far more discreet. Attached photo with the previous set-up. The lights have now been removed with the holes Drywall patched so wiring is still there intact for the replacement cans.

NOTE: The previous contractor had the cans in all 4 corners of the highest part of the ceiling centered at 14.5 inches (to outer edge of 4 inch fixture) from each side of the bulkhead.

Looking up from the ground, the previous Pot lights were further into the Kitchen centre than the countertop ie. shining onto the Kitchen floor. It was my understanding that the pot lights should have a relation to the countertop edge below for maximum lighting effect. In other words, should they have been at say 25 inches instead of 18+14.5=32.5 inches? But, I honestly have no idea :-)


Room Size- 10.5 x 9.5 feet.

Kitchen Layout- L shaped

Bulkhead- 18 inches deep x 10 inches height

Ceiling- Almost 9 ft high

Countertop Depth- 25.5 inches

Hood with bulb Over cooktop.

LED under cabinet lighting strips under all wall cabinets in the "L- shaped" kitchen.

Previous Pots- 6 x 4inch Par 20 fixtures. 4 in the corners of the 9 foot part of the ceiling. 1 inside the bulkhead shining down onto the sink area. 1 inside bulkhead shining down on decorative Mexican Talavera water jug on wall opposite the window wall.

Therefore, the proposed complete lighting layout is 6 pot lights x 3 1/2 inch with 50W GU10 Halogen Bulb (hopefully LED by end of summer when prices fall) and LED under cabinet lighting. 4 in the corners, one above sink, one above water jug on wall opposite to window/sink wall.

Many thanks in advance.

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Ideally, the cans should be placed near the edge of the counter. However, in your case, that may not be possible given the recessed part of the ceiling.

If you really must have the lights in the "ideal" locations, you'd probably have to consider getting rid of the recessed area.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:51PM
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davidtay-Thanks not sure if I understand. Would you mount the new ones at 25 inches from the wall to be directly over the counter edge? The bulkhead is only 18 inches deep. So the pots would have to come in closer to say 7 inches. They were at 14.5 inches.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 10:37PM
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Maybe a little further - 27" using 5" cans.

For smaller cans, probably inwards ~ 20" - 23". You may want to tweak the location depending on the light installed too.

All the above with a flat ceiling. With a recessed ceiling, there are additional restrictions imposed by the internal framing ~ 3" away (in both directions) from the start of the recessed ceiling.

The depth of the recessed portion will limit the spread of light, so lights spaced out on the outside perimeter would be needed.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 10:39AM
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You should count the total amount of lights needed and the type.

The rule I used was to achieve ~ 35 lumens per sq ft.
Take the light output from the individual components that will make up the main lighting. eg - 1 recessed can. Assume ~ 600 lumens per can
Calculate the total sq footage of the kitchen * 35 and divide that by the output per can.

Adjust as necessary - lower lumens per sq ft?
Higher luminous output for individual cans?

The type of lighting would also depend on local regulations (for example title 24 in CA).

Another option would be to put a couple of T8 fluorescent tube fixtures in the recessed area and be done with it - the cheapest and simplest solution (though not necessarily the best or desirable).

FWIW, although LED prices are poised to fall, the actual drop in prices will be limited by a current shortage of LED components. More LED fabs are supposed to come online in 2012.

In the meantime, I wouldn't expect to find high output LED bulbs (>=60 lumens per watt) for

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 1:43AM
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Solman: I have a stupid question to ask...but we are thinking of putting in the Juno (for insulated ceilings) par20 4" pot lights-are they bad or just look ugly? I'm in Canada if that matters for what I can buy? Thanks for any opinions...would rather know before we do this than after!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 11:15PM
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david-thanks for the nice equation. You're brilliant. I knew there would be some such thing.

I'll do it and come back to you and we'll see if the numbers add up.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 11:58PM
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Hi Sammie,

The ones I had were for non-insulated ceiling as I have a bathroom above the kitchen.

But, these were in an orange Box and you get like 4 for about $50. The Gimballs are dead ugly and in general the Par20 Bulb is not very attractive. Big thick opaque glass lens and it is RED HOT. My Bathroom vinyl floor above was actually HOT when walking above the Kitchen. That creeps me out in the safety dep't.

Also, upon talking to various people, the 3 1'2 inch outsells, by far, the 4 inchers due to the more discreet size and nicer looking GU10 Bulb.

The best looks/price ratio I have found are BAZZ at Rona. It is a Canadian manufacturer and the quality is no comparison to the Chinese "contractor six packs" that Home Depot and Lowes sells. The Home Depot 6 pick is really BAD.

This Bazz one comes in a 6 pack for $129.99 or $16.99 each. The Gimballs are really slim and low profile.

OMG I sound like a RONA Flyer of the week eh :)


Here is a link that might be useful: BAZZ

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 12:12AM
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Hi Solman,
Thanks so much for the info and link. Will go check them out at Rona. We had been to our local lighting store and they had recommended the Juno insulated cone par 20 and gimbal ring type that I think are adjustable (I'm getting so confused) but it's so hard to tell when you're in a store of what they really look like.

Thanks again for the info. Will keep watching all the lighting posts for sure before we decide.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 12:40AM
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The equation is a simplified tool which assumes
1. The light sources provide useful ambient lighting - the spread of light is more than a narrow cone, maybe something like 110 degrees or more.
2. The distance from the light source is not really taken into consideration. Probably doesn't matter for flat ceilings ~ 8 ft. Vaulted/ sloped ceilings need additional considering.
3. The lighting will be from a main primary source ie - recessed cans/ fluorescent light box/ surface lighting/ etc.

With LED lighting, you get more flexibility to design things to your heart's content. For instance, you could try architectural inlays, ceiling/ wall washing, ...

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 11:25AM
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I have to find out what the Lumens for a Halogen GU10 Bulb is to work the equation. As an aside, when I had the 6 Par 20's 50Watt in the 4 inch cans, the kitchen was actually overkill bright.

Then I tried changing just one can to a 4 inch that took GU10 bulbs and it looked so much nicer. It resembled a star in the sky effect as opposed to a midnight military light raid to startle the enemy.

Is it just me or do others find the actual type of light nicer from that GU10 bulb?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 12:53AM
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Around 500+ lumens (50 watt) and 300 (35 watt), all line voltage.

Have you looked at the CREE LR4 lights?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 10:18AM
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