HELP, I desperately need an electrical/lighting plan

sandcaOctober 29, 2010


I was talking to 2 electricians last week about wiring my new ovens and they mentioned lighting changes. I am hopelessly unknowledgable on what would be suitable.One recommended 6 line voltage halogen pots in the working area, the other low voltage halogen pots. One recommended xenon under-counter lights the other tiny fluorescent tubes. They both mentioned hardwiring the under-counter lights. LED's are still very expensive in Canada and we don't have any regulations regarding incandescent.

I have no idea what type and placement of fixtures would be advantageous. Right now I just have 2 centre fixtures, one in the work area with a CFL bulb, one in the eating area. Most prep work is done between the sink and cook top. I have 8' ceilings and my son is 6'7" tall. Somehow I can't see pendants or halogens over the peninsula being a good thing for the top of his head. I would prefer LED's in the future when costs are more affordable so I would like a plan that is practical, efficient, flexible but cost effective.

I would appreciate it if you could recommend a good tutorial site or even better if you could outline a good plan for a 11' x 16' kitchen with 8' ceilings.

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Well, I guess the first question is why do you (not the electrician) feel a lighting change is needed.

If the lighting you have allows you to cook and whatever else in the kitchen and you were satisfied before talking to the contractor why spend money on upgrades? I sense a contractor trying to put his hand in your wallet.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 11:01AM
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I feel a lighting change might be advantageous because IâÂÂm doing a kitchen reno. My house is 30 yo and probably no longer code compliant. I ripped out the soffits because the new kitchen cabs go to the ceiling and I have to rewire the overhead fixtures because the wires above the soffit are a little short and have some mouse damage. I also need an electrician to install a new panel and rewire for wall ovens. So now might be an appropriate time to upgrade the lighting.


No doubt under-counter lights would improve task lighting. What IâÂÂm trying to decide is what features are best (line or low voltage), (LED, xenon, fluorescent), (pucks or tubes), (hardwire, plug-in).


Although I think a semi flush fixture gives off better ambient light using fewer watts, pot lights are âÂÂde rigueurâ in new builds and renos in my houseâÂÂs price range. Halogen is most common. IâÂÂve never been a proponent of âÂÂkeeping up with the JonesâÂÂsâ but future resale is a possibility and I want my house to be competitive.

Both electricians were negative about the $50 6 light 3â halogen kits from HD so yes, I do worry that the electricians are just trying to pad their bill. ThatâÂÂs why IâÂÂm asking for third party advice. I thought the cheap kits might provide a good stop-gap until LEDâÂÂs are more affordable. Could they easily be replaced in a couple of years with LED bulbs or new housings or would new wiring have to be run? The electricians went on about how they wouldnâÂÂt last and something about the number of wires that could be used was limiting???

I would like lighting that is attractive, provides good ambient and task lighting, efficient, but cost effective.

I donâÂÂt want to put in lighting that will be the âÂÂbetaâ model in the future. IâÂÂm not sure what size and number of cans to buy so that their size is appropriate for 8â ceilings but will provide sufficient lumens without looking like Swiss cheese and burning the top of my sonâÂÂs scalp. I donâÂÂt know the best choices to make for beam spread, light temperature, type of socket.

IâÂÂm hopelessly uniformed but I donâÂÂt have enough time to learn because the wiring needs to be done now. IâÂÂm not sure if it would be better to commit to a lighting plan right now, to have the wiring roughed in but wait until later to install new fixtures, or maintain status quo until IâÂÂm more knowledgeable and redo the wiring at that time.

I am hoping that some of you will share your own expertise or what was installed by lighting designers/KD in your space.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 1:32PM
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Some suggestions
1. Estimate ~ 35 lumens per sq ft for general lighting.
2. A light over the sink is almost a requirement.

Assuming recessed lighting
3. Try for some regular spacing across the kitchen.
4. 6" cans are cheaper than 4".
5. If you're subject to title 24 type laws, you need non edison base (screw in) cans. You will also be required to have ~ 50% of the wattage used with energy efficient lighting.
6. CREE CR6 lighting is cost competitive with CFL lighting.
7. CFL cans with the integrated ballast may last longer than CFL bulbs + ballast. However, replacing a blown ballast could be difficult as you need access to the upper part of the can.

Other alternatives and/ or additional light sources - LED panels, other surface mounted fixtures, pendants.

The cheapest lighting today is to use surface mounted T8 fluorescent fixtures.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 8:57PM
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I would go with screw-in CFLs in cans spread out to give even lighting. Separate lights possibly some sort of pendant over the island workspace are a requirement as are undercounter LED lighting. Because you apparently don't have a lot of background picking the correct lighting I would strongly suggest that you talk with a local lighting store for design advice and fixture selection - not Home Depot and not your electrical contractor.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 11:27PM
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