Kitchen lighting design assistance

RabinCaOctober 17, 2013

(I've posted this in the Kitchen forum as well. Please ignore if you're already seen it.)
We did a kitchen remodel some time ago and, suffice to say, we gave insufficient consideration to the lighting. The remodel involved the removal of a wall between the square post at the bottom and the wall at the top of the layout. There is a beam between those two points where the wall used to be.
The existing lighting consists of overhead lights about 2-1/2' to 3' north of the sink (in the middle of where the dining room used to be) and about 2' to 2-1/2' south of the stove's eastmost corner (in the middle of the old kitchen). There are under-cabinet lights, both relatively inexpensive (and relatively ineffective) flourescents, under the white cabinet (wine rack) on the west wall and under the white cabinet on the west wall of the peninsula at the southernmost part of the layout. There are also a couple of very nice and effective task lights in the range hood.
The switch for the overhead near the sink is on the wall above the base cabinet to the west of the stove. There's an outlet there as well. There is a switch and outlet for each of the under-cabinet lights and there is one more outlet in the corner to the west of the sink.
The relative lack of light between the pantries and fridge at the north part of the layout and above the sink and peninsula is the source of most of our dissatisfaction and we thought we'd see if we could improve things.
We first thought we'd just take some power off the existing overhead light on the sink side and run it over through the ceiling to install a couple of potlights, one above the sink and one above the peninsula. However, we didn't like the idea that in that solution all the lights would be controlled with the same switch and thought maybe we could do something a little more comprehensive.
At this point our thought is to install three pots, evenly spaced along the counters and sink at the south of the layout about a foot from the wall behind the sink, taking power from the switch in the southwest corner AND installing one other light (pot? something else?) in the area between the pantries and fridge at the north end of the layout taking the power for that from the existing overhead.
Taking power from the overhead would probably be relatively simple, even though there would be some joists to go across. Taking power from the existing switches/outlets would also be possible (I think) but much more difficult because it would involve going up the wall to get into the ceiling.
I've read a number of David Tay's posts and was very impressed with his knowledge. I'm hoping he might be able to have a look at my kitchen layout and let me know what he thinks. Thanks in advance!

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Can I presume that the ceiling is up and you're planning on retrofit fixtures? If you have full access to the space above, you could use new construction cans.

What else is on the top of the diagram? Is it open to another space or is it closed in by a wall?

If cans are too much of a hassle (for the north side - top of the diagram),
1. It might be possible to have cove lighting hidden above the crown molding.
2. Some other form of lighting - pendant, surface mount, ...
As for the switch issue - you could use an enOcean solution to eliminate the need of running wires inside the wall. The remote (looks like a regular switch) can be placed on any nearby wall and moved at will.

The upfront cost of the enOcean solution will be high compared to a regular dumb switch. But, if you factor in the cost of pulling wiring inside the wall, patching, possible mishaps and the ability to relocate the switch, it might be worth while.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 10:01PM
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Wow! Thanks for the fast response!
Yes to retrofit fixtures - the reno was done in 2009. The kitchen is on the first floor of a two storey home. I'm afraid full access to the ceiling is not on.
The opening at the top of the diagram is, in fact, an opening and not a wall. It leads to what used to be our living room and is now our dining room. The dining room is lit by by a single chandelier of sorts on a dimmer. It works fine in all respects.
As for that north area, the trim at the top of the pantries and the top of the upper cabinet above the fridge leaves a space of about 1-3/4". The trim itself is about 3/4" so there's about 2-1/2" up there. Would that be enough for a cove lighting solution? And, if so, do you think cove lighting would provide adequate light in that space? (It seems like the light would be pretty indirect and then, of course, there'd be the problem of getting power up there.)
The space is pretty confined with only about 5' between the left and right sides. There's some but not a lot of natural light there. I don't think a pendant would work at all in terms of aesthetics. Plus it would likely get in the way when the pantries are pulled out. So it seems to me it's either the cove lighting solution, surface mount or can(s).
If I were to use cans there, I'm not sure how best to place them. Seems to me the possibilities would be a) one in the centre of the area, b) one on either side or c) four placed near the corners of the corridor formed by the pantries and fridge, spaced a little less than four feet apart and forming a square. If I went cans, I'd probably lean towards a) or c).
At this point, I'm leaning towards surface mount and replacing the existing overhead light with a matching light. So there'd be the three pots over the sink area, the existing overhead (replaced with a new surface mount) and a new light in between the pantries (matching surface mount). I'd probably have to find a way to go through three, maybe four joists, to run the power over to the new overhead light from the existing one. A bit of a pain but not undoable.
That would leave one wall fish to get the power to the pots by the sink from the corner switch or the enOcean solution. I had a quick look at enOcean's website but I'm not real clear. How would that work? Would there be self-powered lights and a wireless switch?
Oh, I'm also thinking about replacing our current wimpy flourescent under-counter lights with something newer, better and brighter. Any suggestions?
I have absolutely no experience with lighting design so, although I've thought about it and done a bit of research at this point, I'm not at all invested in the solution I'm leaning towards at this point. I completely defer to your experience and expertise and would love to hear recommendations, if you have them.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 12:10AM
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Following is a provider of enocean products

Leviton also has a range of enocean controllers.

The idea is that there is a controller (Line voltage receiver) embedded somewhere in the ceiling with the power lines. A remote switch will control that just like a switch.

The solution depends quite a bit on how much effort you're prepared to invest. If that space on the north side is not used much, you might be able to defer the decision/ shop around.

UCL - your best option is to use a hard wire solution.

Possible options - HO t5, maxlite, eW Profile, uniLume in the approximate order of cost.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 12:32AM
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