Kitchen: Help with recessed light options, please

cgpspOctober 5, 2010

Here is my proposed lighting plan for my kitchen in my new home. The kitchen is about 18 ft wide and 17 ft long. You could figure each flooring square drawn is 2ft x 2ft. The ceiling is 10ft tall, and there are soffits above the counter areas that come down about 2 ft.


The attached pictures show some options I came up with. The larger yellow circles are 6 inch recessed fluorescent cans, and the smaller circles are 4 inch recessed fluorescent or incandescent cans (part of my question), and are located in the soffits. Also, notice the 3 mini-pendant lights over the counter. FOR THESE QUESTIONS, PLEASE DISREGARD THE 2 CANS IN THE PANTRY IN THE UPPER RIGHT PART OF THE DRAWING.

Option 1: This shows 6" cans in the main area, 4" cans in the soffits. I would use eleven six-inch 26 watt fluorescent cans, and four four-inch 13 watt fluorescent cans, three four-inch 50 watt incandescent cans over the cantilevered bar in the top part of the drawing, and three perhaps 60 watt mini-pendant incandescent lights. This would total 338 watts of fluorescent, and 330 incandescent.

Option 2: This shows 4" cans everywhere except for over the kitchen sink (no soffit here). This is 15 four inch 13 watt fluorescent cans, 1 six inch 26 watt fluorescent can over the sink, and three 60 watt mini-pendant incandescent lights. This would total 221 watts of fluorescent and 180 of incandescent.

1. Should I go with 4" fluorescent cans everywhere instead of the 6" cans? I want there to be sufficient lighting, but I don't want it to be blinding. Questions 4, 5, and 6 below ask about formulas for proper lighting.

2. I would like incandescent lights somewhere for the dimming capability, however, Title 24 states that I must have 50% of the wattage come from fluorescent lighting. Perhaps the mini-pendants over the island would suffice for dimmed lighting. Perhaps additionally, the lights over the eating bar (top of the drawing) could be dimmed.

3. With the cans in the soffits positioned over the countertop, is it necessary to do under cabinet lighting? Also note that on the left wall, there will be windows between the cabinets and the counter tops, not tile.

4. I've researched, and some have said 2 watts/sq ft of fluorescent lighting is good. I calculate about 300 sq ft, so that means 600 watts. If all 18 cans were 6 inch at 26 watts each, that would total 468 watts. If you did the same for 4 inch cans at 13 watts each, that's 234. By that rule of thumb, we're looking insufficient with either one?

5. Another rule of thumb says 35 lumens per square foot. At approx 300 sq ft, that's 10,500 lumens. If the 26 watt 6 inch fluorescent cans give 2,000 lumens, we're saying it's giving off 36,000 lumens? If I went down to the 13 watt 4 inch fluorescent cans that give, say, 800 lumens, then we're down to 14,400, which is much closer. Is this a better rule of thumb?

6. Kichler states multiplying the square footage by 1.5 for general lighting, or 2.5 for task lighting, and that gives you the required wattage (I assume they mean in incandescent terms). Let's say for the kitchen, I go with 2.0. That means we are looking at 612 watts. If a 6" can light is equivalent to 100W, then 10 cans would be 1000 watts. This doesn't include the lights in the soffits nor the mini-pendant lights. But looking at the 4" can lights, if they are equivalent to 60 watts, then 10 cans would be 600 watts, which almost perfectly matches.

Thank you for looking,


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I would go with 6" cans for the following reasons
1. 4" cans have less space for heat dissipation.
2. 6" cans are more common and you have more lighting options.
3. The light coverage is better for 6".

Since you're subject to title 24, you'll have to install CFL cans with integrated ballasts or LED cans with GU 24 base / anything other than edison base.

I ended up with LED cans as I figured that
1. Cans with integrated ballasts would become problematic when the ballast fails as someone would have to gain access to the upper part of the can to change the ballast.
2. I was drawn to the CREE LR6 @ LampsPlus as there wasn't any glare like the other CFL cans beside it.
3. The cost of a CFL can + trim + CFL bulb was higher than a CREE LR6 + can ~ 1+ year ago. Today the costs are more favorable for a CR6 (GU24) + can ~ $80.
4. The LED cans are dimmable using standard incandescent dimmers.
UCL is very useful.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 4:38PM
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Thanks for the reply.

So, you don't think that 18 6" cans would be too much light?

I like the idea of LED, but my contractor wants to go with Halo, and the LED can (H750ICAT) is $10, but the HALO LED (ML706830) is $100. In contrast, the CFL can (H272ICAT) is $40, and the light is $5. The LED works out to more than double CFL with Halo.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 6:32PM
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18 lights is a little high.

You may cut down the number of 6" cans since you have other light sources.

Dimming will give you more flexibility. However, dimming CFLs (the electronic ballast) are difficult to come by.

You need to account for the trim piece as well (anywhere from $10+ to $20+).

I used the HALO LED Can with Cree LR6 GU24 base (~$90) which at the time was slightly cheaper than the CFL can (~$65) + light (~$8) + trim (~$20). At the time, the HALO LED was $110 (local store). HALO LED modules are quite expensive.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 7:21PM
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Well, the contractor isn't giving any credits for going with fewer lights, so that's where I was thinking of changing them to 4" lights to make it not so bright. Also, the 4" looks a little more modern, which is a style I'm going for. However, I'm just worried it might be too dark, since most of them will be 10ft high. Perhaps with UCL, it will compensate. However, should I be concerned with the heat using 4" cans?

Did you go with the 2700K or 3500K color on the LR6?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 7:54PM
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With CFL yes, you should be concerned about the heat dissipation. Actually, that was one factor that pushed me to consider LED.

In addition, I've had a number (> 10) of screw in CFLs die in recessed cans. I also decided that I would not want to be crawling around in the attic trying to replace a blown ballast.

2700k for the LR6. If I were to do it again, I'd probably be using CR6 lamps.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 8:06PM
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I see. With the 4" cans, it uses 13 watt bulbs. Shouldn't those run cooler? In fluorescent cans, is the ballast in the can and not the bulb, and if so, does that help the heat issue?

Thanks again for your replies.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 5:42PM
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Yes, there will be less heat, but the heat dissipation ability is also reduced.

The separate ballast should be more robust than the integrated ballast used in all screw in CFLs.

However, given the race to the lowest price, I'm not sure if that is true anymore.

The other thing to consider is whether the can will be in direct contact with insulation and the environment (attic or ceiling space).
1. It will be challenging to replace a blown ballast.
2. The heat dissipation will be lower than in an office environment where there is a false ceiling that is less packed and relatively cooler.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 6:01PM
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