Kitchen lighting - size of recessed LED cans

tklshopFebruary 27, 2013

Could really use your lighting expertise here! We are in the midst of kitchen addition/remodel. The kitchen space is roughly 15' x 15'. We will have a vaulted ceiling (12' peak) over 10' length of the space and the remaining 5' will be flat at 10' 1/2". There is a kitchen window with arched upper transoms and a 7' island centered in the vaulted space. Hopefully that makes a bit of sense.

Anyway, we will be having 6 recessed cans in the vaulted space and 2 pendants over the island. We live in California and have very specific energy requirements and therefore have to use high efficiency recessed cans. I prefer the look of the LED to fluorescent, so the plan is to use recessed LEDs. Because the area is a vaulted ceiling, we have to use recessed cans for a sloped ceiling.

I was planning to use the 2700 color 900 lumens 6" slope cans from Juno. But then a designer friend told me that the 6" cans are dated and out-of-vogue. Is this true?

Juno does no manufacture a smaller sloped can, but the CSLighting company manufactures a 3" adjustable recessed LED. Is this too small to use in a 11+ foot ceiling? I don't want my space to look dated, but I want to make sure that there is enough light.

Please help!!

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Absolutely 3" is too small for only 6 lights on a high ceiling.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:06PM
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With my pendant lights and under-counter lighting I thought 3 four inch cans would be adequate in 11x12 kitchen ( it previously had 4 six inch can in an 11x10 space). My smaller cans can only hold a 50watt halogen bulb while the six inch cans had 75 watt bulbs. Also in the smaller cans the bulb is up higher inside the can than with the larger cans. That also affects the light output. My lighting is okay but there are times I wish I had more in my kitchen. I am thinking about switch my lights to LED retrofits which would at least bring the light down further. And my kitchen ceiling is only 8 ft.
I think 6 three inch cans would be inadequate within a space your size and woefully inadequate with your high vaulted ceiling.
I suggest you take you plan into a lighting speciality store and see what they recommend.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:59PM
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I just changed from 6 x six inch recessed lights with compact fluorescents in a 10x18 foot kitchen to 8 x six inch recessed lights with CREE 2700 LED inserts (9.5W, 575 lumens) because I didn't think the six cans gave enough light. The LED inserts are brighter than the fluorescents so I now don't think that I needed to add the 2 cans, and am glad that I have the circuits on dimmers. I have 8 foot ceilings. So for your situation I'd say definitely 6 inch, you will never notice them after they are put in esp with such high ceilings. Honestly did you ever think about the size of recessed cans before this was brought up?

you might also want to consider the low height LED CREE 2700 lights that look just like recessed lights but can be installed into a regular electrical box, then you don't have to worry about the sloped ceiling or joists getting in the way. The only problem is that they hum on dimmers but in your situation I don't think that you need a dimmer. Something to consider. BTW my electrician said that he solves the dimming problem by having one incandescent bulb in the circuit hidden somewhere but that won't fly in California.

Here is a link that might be useful: home depot LED disc light looks like recessed

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Thanks for your feedback. I was told that the LEDs put off more light than incandescent and fluorescent. The 6" Juno LEDs are 900 lumens and the 3" (which I now realize is actually a 4") is 1025 lumens.

Given the fact it's 4" and a higher lumens, do you still think it's insufficient light? Thank you!

Here's the link to the info on the 3 7/8" LED -

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:15AM
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I would second the recommendation on getting assistance from a good, qualified specialist lighting shop. You can see from the datasheet that the fc delivered decreases pretty dramatically with 11 foot ceilings. To me, they suggest you need to go with the 25 degree spot light and space them closer to deliver more usable power.

I do believe some people think the large cans are dated, no matter how high up on the ceiling they are. I have much lower ceilings and went with the 4" LED recessed cans, but they have a much lower lumen output.

Generally the first can is set 24 to 30" off the counter or wall. Given only six cans, it seems like you may have some deadspots. Have you spaced them out in a grid? You could post your lighting plan and see what feedback you get.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:09AM
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I have to agree with your designer friend: I too believe 6" cans are outmoded. I feel even 4" cans look dated, but look a lot better than 6".

Our 10' high flat ceilings in the dining and kitchen (30'9" x 19'8") were completely redone (they were tray and vaulted before), and we put 26 3" mini-cans with 3.5W LED bulbs for general lighting, 16 3" mini-cans for task lighting (4 over main sink, 8 over main island, 4 over second island), 10 50W PAR20 incandescent bulbs in our 72" hood being replaced by 5W LED bulbs, and 3 pendants over the dining table which will have CFL bulbs in them.

I have replaced eight 6" can lights in my living room with 14 3" mini can lights with 3.5W bright white LED bulbs (350 lumens). While only 10 lumens/sq ft, this seems to offer adequate light for our 25' x 20' living room with 13.5' ceilings, with white ceilings, walls, and white marble (Botticino Fiorito). We have about 60 4" 12V MR16 can lights, and we've replaced the 40W halogen bulbs with 3.5W bright white LED bulbs. We have slightly less general light in these rooms than with the 40W halogen.

Your six 4" LED cans will likely be bright enough at 27 lumens/sq ft, but will depend on your wall, floor, and counter colors (darker surfaces absorb light, light surfaces reflect and diffuse light). I have 14.7 lumens/sq ft of general lighting, which feels a bit dim on their own despite white ceilings, white counters (Caesarstone Nougat), and white marble floors (Botticino Fiorito). With the island lights on (13.5 more lumens/sq ft), we have very good, bright light with 28 total lumens/sq ft. With the over-sink lights, range hood lights, pendants, and 41 lineal feet of in-cabinet accent lights on, we will have football field class lighting.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:59AM
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Guess I have to redo my kitchen again - I just put in 6 inch cans about a year ago - no regrets and the LEDs are great!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:32PM
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Me too, I just used 6". The spread is great. I didn't really think of them as a design element, so much. They're just bright spots on the ceiling. I have 6 recessed Ecosmart LEDs and two pendants in my 8X15 kitchen, 8' ceilings, plus a light in the hood and UCL, and it isn't too much light. I think you may need more. I used the 35 lumens/sq ft rule when I calculated mine.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 3:39PM
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I believe from informal visual testing in my kitchen that 25 lumens/sq ft are quite bright for general lighting if you have all light colors in your kitchen, but you need quite a bit more light if you have darker colors that suck up rather than disperse the light. Plus about about 25-50 lumens/sq ft for task lighting, also depending on your counter color.

It's easy to know how much light is NOT enough - it looks dim. But beyond the threshold of adequate light, it's harder to judge how much is too much light because your iris constricts and your retina/rods/cones and visual cortex also adjust so we experience a very similar perceived brightness over many orders of magnitude.

This post was edited by davidahn on Thu, Feb 28, 13 at 19:16

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:25PM
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If you can get them dimmable, you can always dim them when there is "too much light," but if you don't get enough of them, I would imagine it's hard to install more.

Our 7'5" kitchen has seven 5" recessed halogen lights, 2 incandescent lights over the island, three 4" recessed cans over the sink, LED UCL's, and the lights from the vent hood. They're dimmable, but we rarely dim them, and that's on a pretty low ceiling. On 11' ceilings our regular incandescent light sources would hit us at I think something like only 60% of their current flux.

I think.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:59PM
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@DrBeanie, you're right, it's much harder to add more after the fact, though there are remodel housings you can put in if you can get at the wiring. Always better to err on the side of too much light (with dimmable bulbs). Even if you don't spring for the dimmers, our eyes will adjust to the excess light, though there's no point paying the electricity on more light than you need!

Many have mentioned higher ceilings requiring more lumens. No light is lost over distance, it spreads out, becoming less intense per square inch but covering more square inches. But since the lights must light all surfaces, walls included, the higher the ceiling, the more total lumens you need to light additional wall surface area. Also, with very high ceilings, it is useful to use spot lights or LEDs to maintain light intensity on the work surface or ground.

If you have task lighting in a high ceiling, you definitely want narrower angles; LEDs are ideal because they excel at directional light. (In fact, because of poor dispersion, LEDs are a poor choice for even back-lighting of translucent surfaces like frosted glass or onyx, or something as simple as standard medium base bulbs.)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 7:14PM
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