Kitchen sink lighting - separate switch?

GauchoGordo1993September 30, 2013

I realize that this is one of those topics that's been covered many times over the years, but I'd like to give this downtrodden horse a little CPR :)

I think about lighting three different ways:
1) Layers. Lighting circuits should be organized by layers, not spatial areas. So, for example, undercab and ambient lights are different lighting layers, so they should be on separate switches.

2) Use cases. For example, some use cases I'm thinking of include: walking into the kitchen in the morning, One person cooking or cleaning, multiple people cooking or cleaning, entertaining, after dinner when folks have retired to the family room, overnight without house guests, overnight with house guests.

3) Accent lighting, when you want to highlight something in particular, like pictures or art, cabinet fronts, or an appliance you're particularly proud of.

Regarding the sink light:
From a layering perspective, I don't have many wall cabinets in my plan, so most of the counter/task lighting will be from recessed lights in the ceiling. Given that, it seems to me that the kitchen sink is in the same "lighting layer" as the other recessed lights, so a separate switch for the sink light is not justified by layering philosophy.

From a use case perspective, to my thinking the only use for which a separate kitchen sink light switch might be useful is overnight with house guests. All other use cases would be easier if the sink light turned-on along with the other over counter lights.

From an accent perspective, I don't want to accent my sink.

All of this is leading me to conclude that a separate switch for the light over the sink is not what I want, but I'm concerned that I'm doing something goofy because it seems like everybody has a separate switch for the sink light. Am I thinking about this right?

This post was edited by GauchoGordo1993 on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 13:00

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I consider the sink light to be task lighting. There are definitely times when the only thing happening in my kitchen is at the sink, so that's the only light I turn on. Sometimes I just dont' want to turn on the overhead light.

I only recently remodeled my kitchen, and installed UCL, so I may find, as I figure out how best to use my new layout, that I use the UCL instead of the sink light. In reality, I suspect old habits will die hard, and I will continue to use the sink light for quick trips to the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 1:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Definitely a separate switch. I actually wrote usecases when figuring out layout in my kitchen :) So I get how you are thinking. Kitchen sink is a task light similar to cooktop/ hood light. While ambient light may be comfortable, the user at sink will still want to flick on brighter light to scrub the pots or clean the veggies. Same as for cooktop/ top.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 1:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I get the task lighting thing, but I guess I'm thinking that 90% of the time I'll want the sink task light on along with the primary prep & cleanup counter task lights, in which case it's inconvenient to have to turn it on/off separately. One use case that seems particularly inconvenient is turning off all the lights when leaving the room - I imagine many trips across the kitchen just to turn off the light over the sink.

Another issue I just remembered is that the sink light switch always gets gunky becuase people use it with wet icky hands.

Is it possible that the separate switch for the sink is an anachronism from the time when lights used a lot of power and that we don't need so many circuits with modern, high efficiency lights like LEDs?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 1:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a switch for over the sink so I kept it -- didn't dawn on me to combine it with the other cans..... However, I do not think that's a bad idea.... after a couple months, I've actually found that I never turn on the sink lights (2 cans since I couldn't center a single can) -- the rest of the cans seem to provide sufficient light for me.... So if you think you'll always want the sink lights on with the rest of the cans, I think it makes sense to put them on the same switch. I've already got so many switches in my kitchen/eat-in area, I wouldn't mind getting rid of one!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In our kitchen we have recessed cans, under counter task lighting, and task lighting over the island. We put the sink can light on a separate switch from the rest of the cans. As a result, we never turn the light on over the sink! Now, our sink is under a window, and the kitchen has a lot of windows, so we have lots of daylight. But even in the evening, I rarely turn it on.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 2:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a separate switch for my sink light, and like the option to have it off with other lights on. Although it is less often that I have it on with the other lights off.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Regarding task lighting, the more I think about it, the more I think that the concept of task lighting isn't particularly helpful for kitchens. Task lighting is a helpful way to think about lighting for small, well-contained work areas, but it doesn't really work for kitchen lighting because it encourages you to define tasks too narrowly. Thinking in terms of use cases is analogous and better.

The sink, for example, is involved in prep & cleanup use cases, and therefore I've come to the conclusion that task lighting for the sink should include those areas as well.

The cooking surface is another interesting example. The use case is cooking, which involves the landing zones around the cooktop in addition to the cooktop itself, and therefore exhaust hood lighting alone is insufficient. Actually the cooking use case involves the prep and cleaup areas as well, but let's be minimalist for argument's sake. Anyhow, I think in practice the only reason we need additional lighting in the exhaust hood is because of the shadow created by the hood itself, not because we need more light on the cooking surface than the other areas involved in the cooking use case. So now I'm wondering if I should put the exhaust hood lights on the same circuit as well :)

Thanks for listening while I think outloud ;)

This post was edited by GauchoGordo1993 on Mon, Sep 30, 13 at 15:54

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 3:52PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Brickton's Finished Kitchen
We started our house in the fall of 2011 and moved...
Can you look at my kitchen layout and tell me what I'm missing?
Sorry I posted this once previously, but I wanted to...
Kitchen design assistance - Small kitchen
I have a 12x13 foot kitchen with way too many entry...
Anyone have Cambria Seagrove? Or Summerhill?
I have been GW lots lately trying to decide on countertops....
Lily Spider
Gap between backsplash and over-the-range microwave?
Hi, all. Does anyone have an over-the-range microwave...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™