kitchen cans location

sevenechoJune 25, 2009

I am planning on 8 5 inch cans in the kitchen. 2 rows, sort of centered over the counter edges, starting about the middle of the fridge. Is setting them centered over the counter edge the right thing? Please comment on where to line them up.


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Last week I installed 7 - 5" cans. They are about seven inches out from the counter. It worked great for me. There are less cabinet shadows on the counters that way. The key is having light on both sides on a work area. For example, a sink. Don't have the light centered above the sink. It is better to have lights on both sides of the sink. That way you do not create shadows yourself. If you are skilled at hooking up electrial things, buy 2 cans and experiment by holding them up to the ceiling and moving them around until the lighting is perfect. I did that and changed my lighting layout after I learned how the light fell. I like 23 watt CFLS (N:vision from HD). You may find that reflectors give too little light (or you may love the lower light level.) Experiment first. Also try different light colors (3000k for a white kitchen, 2700 for wood colored kitchens, etc.) Regarding the frig: I did not put one over the frig, thinking the glare on my white refrig might be too much. It gets plenty of light from the adjacent lights, but I am using 23 watts CFLs; that's about 1500 lumens each.
I like the HD 5" ic can and the halo h99tr (I believe) baffle.
Incidentally I drilled the holes with a recessed light hole cutter I got at Lowes for about $23 and ran the wires my self. I unpacked the recessed lights and baffles and had the lights ready for the electrians when they showed up. It took them (2 guys) one hour to hook them up and push them in place. Cost me $100 in labor. About $20 per fixture. $28 for the wire and $4.50 per bulb.
PS. Don't do any electrial work unless you know what you are doing. A mistake with electricity could be your last. You might rather pay an electrican $100 to hook up two cans and move them around if you want to experiment for an hour.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 10:57PM
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I don't know anywhere near as much as Bob but in very simple terms... I did some research and read in more then one place that cans should be approx 2 1/2' - 3' back from the counter and 3' -4' apart.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 11:05PM
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Not to worry Bob, electricity ain't my thing. Besides, I don't need to know much about it since I have several friends that are electricians. I have the ceiling open so I have easy access for placement. Thing is, I don't know why I did not think about doing some tests. Where I work I am almost daily telling some student to 'do a test first'.
I will get some bulbs and try things out.

remodelfla--you mean 2 1/2 to 3 inches back from the edge, correct?

The kitchen is only 8 feet wide, approx 12 feet long. I am thinking I should put a dimmer switch for the cans. I will have under counter as well.

Thanks for the comments!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 7:31AM
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First a correction: The baffle I used was a Halo 5001p. It gets the light out of the fixture nicely if you use a cfl. It is deep (meaning the bulb is more hidden) and looks very nice. I saw them for about $10 at HD and $13 at Lowes. I did a price match.
Just to add a little to this discussion. I like Compact fluorescents (CFLs) because they give varying amounts of light and can be purchased in different shades of white (yellowish [incandescent] to bluish [sunshine]). With the right baffle you do not see the spiral, nor care. They produce 75% less heat. They have long, long lives, but many have shorter lives than advertised when used in confined spaces. You have to check the specs.
Remodelfa, I also read so many opinions about where to place the cans and how far apart. I read things like a 5" can, 5Â apart; 6" can; 6Â apart. Weird things. The only way to really know is to get the fixtures and importantly the bulb you are committed to and check that you get the smooth coverage you want. If you donÂt want smooth coverage and would rather have a spot approach, that is even a different spacing. If you want every upper cabinet equally covered with light, you might find that you need an extra can some weird place, like I did. Do you want the upper cabinets with a lot of light on them, put the lights closer; Softer light reflection, place farther from the cabinets. If you use a brighter bulb you may need less cans. A 65 watt or less; more cans. Regarding the placement from the counter: Away from the edge and you get more light on the counter and may not require under cabinet lights. But the lights have to be on both sides of your work area(s) because the light will be coming from the right and left to give good lighting in the work area. Or you may want the light directly over you (edge of the counter.) That way you can put the light differently on the spot you will be working, but you will cast upper cabinet shadows on the counter and surely need undercounter lights. It is all a matter of taste.
Sevenecho, Dimmers are a whole different scenario. For example : GE has a dimmable CFL reflector; I hate the light color and intensity. TCP has dimmable CFLs and approve one 20watt bulb for recessed (use their dimmer). Perhaps if you really want to use a dimmer go with non-fluorescent bulbs. Ask normclc ( on this forum. He is a real lighting expert; runs lighting showrooms. And knows what he is talking about.
Incidentally to avoid dimmers, consider lighting zones with more than one switch.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 8:38AM
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We place the cans right at the edge of the counter top or if there are rafters in the way we move them in over the counter top. Placing cans behind you will only cast shadows. Under counter cabinet lights would be used in conjunction with this.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 10:09PM
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From what I read, 3" from the edge of the counter would work. It's pretty much along the lines of 2 1/2 feet from the inside of the counter or wall if it's not a peninsula. But again, I only know what I read and certainly defer to the experts. Now if you ever need to know about coordinating countertop and backsplash materials I'm a wiz... lighting is a struggle for me.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 10:47PM
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Hockypuck, You sound like a professional. I definitely agree that placing cans behind you doesn't make sense. But since we just installed them last week we have been living with our new recessed for a few days. If I was to give just a couple of tips it would be:
1. Stand at the very few places you will work in your kitchen. Put a recessed to the right and left of each place you are standing.
2. If you want smooth light in your kitchen, make sure you at least a) get 2 extension cords; buy 2 plug in light sockets (very cool, cheap things)from HD/lowes; add reflectors bulbs and hold them up at the ceiling level. b) Move the lights around until you are satisfied. (Be careful not to burn yourself if you use incandescents [400 degrees] or halogen). That was the most important thing I did. (But I rigged up actual cans [portable]). Easier is to get two work lights that you can aim and simulate recessed light output. That way you light the kitchen "your way".
3. Location of can in relation to the counter: My electrican said the same as you. But I did it differently. My wife keeps saying, "I love these lights." So I am happy.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 1:12PM
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