Return to the Kitchens Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

Posted by maybeiloveyou (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 27, 11 at 14:57

Long story short, we replaced our large fluorescent light with two track lights. This gives us the "warm" look we desired, but it casts AWFUL shadows everywhere. When we cook, we are standing in our shadows. The kitchen constantly looks as though it's nighttime, regardless of the actual hour outside. The track lights take 50w halogen bulbs, which are already in there.


Kitchen with fluorescent


Kitchen with track lights

I have NO CLUE what to do to fix this. I was thinking of 4 recessed lights (roughly in the corners, but spaced to account for lighting/cabinets/counters) to combat the shadowing/darkness. Will this work? Or we can possibly remove the middle light and make it 5 recessed lights?

The cheapest option is, I guess, to go back to the fluorescent tubes. But those are so ugly and who even has those anymore :(

I just have no clue what to do. Maybe someone here has some ideas? (PLEASE!) Our kitchen is roughly 9 x 10, thus needs 3150 lumens. I believe with the lights we have, we are already getting enough light, but the setup makes everything awful. UGH.

I have also posted this in lighting and davidtay gave some helpful tips. The original thread in lighting: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lighting/msg0700001417435.html?17291


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

you posted different information in each of your two threads.

I wrote on your other thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Your thread in the Lighting Forum


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

I had track lighting in my last kitchen and it worked great. The issue may be the track you used -- too short for the space with the lights too close together.

We used 8-foot long Halo track with small, adjustable track heads that took small halogen flood -- 4 to 5 heads. Those are the indoor/outdoor type recommended by electrician and longer lasting and with excellent light.

If you were to replace the main track in the kitchen with an 8-footer so the light can spread out more, that should help. Ditto for the one near the window however you might need a 6-foot there -- depends on the space.

With the dark cabinets and wall color you might also think about installing under-cabinet task lighting if you can manage the wiring. People on here use various brands but Kichler is one that comes to mind. It can be a bit pricey but it's great lighting.

Alternately, recessed lighting could be installed but that would need to be evenly spaced over the ceiling and properly placed to work well. Sometimes lighting stores have someone who can help with that if you purchase from them.

Halo products are available on line. The heads are really small and they can be positioned on the track and swiveled as well.


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

I'm not sure what info is different in my two threads, but if they are indeed different to the point of confusion, I apologize!

Thank you for the advice... I will look into a longer track light as well as the other things mentioned.


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

A previous house we bought had tracks in the kitchen. I detested the unavoidable glare in your eyes, the shadows and uneven light. We had recessed cans installed on dimmers. Loved it! Current house had a huge fluorescent box. Removed it and installed the mini halogen recessed for a sleeker look. Love them also.

If you decide to go with recessed, you'll need to install as many cans as necessary to give quality light overall and provide task lighting. Just be sure you get the cans specifically for renovations.

If it makes you feel better, maybe you can reuse the tracks in a hall to highlight art. HTH!


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

"The cheapest option is, I guess, to go back to the fluorescent tubes. But those are so ugly and who even has those anymore :( "

Well I guess I am in the minority because I do. I find them very useful. We have some recessed lights, but I always find myself turning on the fluorescent.

There are many options for bulbs now, they are not all "harsh". They have "warm" lighting and also "sunlight" bulbs.


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

Hi abundant - I had trouble with our kitchen lighting, too. While I am far from an expert on lighting, I will share with you what we did. My kitchen is about 11' x 12' with one large window. We had 9 recessed cans installed - the electrician came up with this plan based on where he could put the lights (our ceiling is full of plumbing, HVAC, etc) and how many he thought we needed. We went over to our local Lamps Plus and discussed the plan with them, and they agreed with the 9 cans, although it was overkill. The electrican, Lamps Plus, and the people on this forum agree that the cans should be above the front edge of your kitchen counters (i.e. about 2 feet out from the wall). This is important for lighting your work area. We have NO cans in the center of our kitchen (there's no island - the center is just floor space). I don't know if this is part of your problem or not (the fact that much of your lighting is in the center of the kitchen). Before we remodeled we had a fluorescent tube fixture with 2 four foot tubes, in the center of the kitchen, plus one recessed can light over the sink. It was lit fine without shadows.

Back to the new lighting: The electrician put halogen PAR bulbs in the cans, and we couldn't stand the light that they produced. The shadows were very harsh. I also didn't like the heat they produced - I really noticed that they added to the kitchen heat. I researched here and elsewhere on the web, and decided to go with LED recessed cans. I think that's what davidtay is referring to on your lighting thread, but I'm not sure (as opposed to just replacing your bulbs with LED bulbs). I got the Cree LED cans that davidtay referred to. They are very expensive at about $80 per light. Cree has come out with a slightly cheaper version now, but I don't know how much it is. Cree seems to be a very well respected brand.

We are VERY happy with these Cree LED lights. They are incredibly bright (they are also dimmable) and do not cast the harsh shadows that the halogens did. The lights are more of a glow. They are very easy to install if you already have the recessed cans. Here is a picture from the middle of our installing them. The light on the left is LED and the light on the right is halogen. You can clearly see the harsh shadows on the right vs the glow on the left. You can also see a color difference (we got the 2700 deg LEDs). Also, the light in the upper left corner of the pic is LED and the one over the glass cabinet is halogen.

LED vs halogen can lighting, LED on left

Part of the reason that I got the LEDs was that I like to leave the kitchen lights on at night, even when we are not in the kitchen, or if we leave the house. I didn't want to feel like I was wasting so much energy. Now we dim them all the way down and it's a really nice amount of light.

We got our LEDs from Polar-ray (I have no affiliation with them but they are local for us) - they get good reviews on the web.

I would also recommend what the others are recommending: go to a local lighting store first. They will be able to help you with your personal lighting situation. The under counter lights are really nice too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Polar ray link to Cree LR6 LED lights


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

ditto pudgybaby.

I think you need to understand why it worked well in the past.

Previously, your fluo tubes produced enough light -- that spread out -- so that it didn't matter much that the light source was behind your head.

Now, you must Say No to light coming from the center of the ceiling. This happens to be where the electrical supply is; if it stays there, it's an electrical outlet for tracks. Don't let it determine your light positioning. Connected to the one outlet in the center of the ceiling, you could have two tracks, one going over to each counter. My writing this out is not a recommendation; it's a description to illustrate an idea to you.

Say yes to light positioned above the counter work surface.
Say yes to undercabinet light that lights up the countertop. Plugged into another circuit.

In my kitchen, I have both dimmable light, and a lot of long fluo tubes that turn the kitchen into a well lit laboratory. My fluorescent is inside my wall cabinets with frosted glass above it and below it; not the same as your kitchen. I spent a lot for high quality bulbs (both the fluorescent and the incandescent ones). Your high quality incandescent bulbs (GU10) can be kept, or swapped for something else. If kept, you need a source of "general" light in addition to it. You could put high quality fluo light right there in the middle once again, or you could make another plan, as you still have a number of options. My writing this out is not a recommendation to do this; it's a description to illustrate an idea to you.

Your other thread has
1/. not enough information about the general need (diagnosing your situation) and
2/. too much information about advanced details . http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lighting/msg0700001417435.html . This happens when people start offering solutions instead of forcing you to describe and diagnose the situation you got yourself into.

If you don't mind the pain, stay in the present moment and describe more and more why it used to work well, why it is isn't so now, what you had before, and what you have now. E.g. the tubes used to be X inches long. (18"? 48"? 72"?). E.g. there were two of them, or four of them. (how many?) They were X watts of power. (approximately). The new bulbs are X watts of power, each one. (each one might be too powerful!). The lights are turned on with ONE switch (or two), and we could change that to.... (Or not). What I mean is that you have underdescribed things and not overdescribed things.

Going to a lighting store might help. Or, it might be more useful in a few days from now, after you get a handle on the problem and the options you have.

In your other thread I saw a 50 Watt bulb. This is so strong it can hurt your eyes. A 35W bulb is strong enough that you won't notice a difference on the countertop. Then, I saw four of these bulbs in a row. That is a lot all in one place. Since there are four of them, you might find that four 35W bulbs is still a bit much.... Overall, I'm not optimistic about the track lighting you bought. In my crystal ball I see it ends up being removed.


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

There are lots of other options besides installing can lights or using tubes again. Check some stores or websites for flush-mounted ceiling fixtures for that center area. I had the same problem with shadows and dim areas in my kitchen (which, although a galley, is about the same size as yours.) Just yesterday I finally installed a new fixture which made a HUGE difference! I made sure it was larger and put out more light than the previous light (bulbs are CFLs.) I do also have under cabinet lights if/when needed. I ordered the fixture from Lamps Plus.


 o
RE: kitchen lighting mess... need help or ideas!!

If you don't mind the pain, stay in the present moment and describe more and more why it used to work well, why it is isn't so now, what you had before, and what you have now. E.g. the tubes used to be X inches long. (18"? 48"? 72"?). E.g. there were two of them, or four of them. (how many?) They were X watts of power. (approximately). The new bulbs are X watts of power, each one. (each one might be too powerful!). The lights are turned on with ONE switch (or two), and we could change that to.... (Or not). What I mean is that you have underdescribed things and not overdescribed things.

I think it worked well because the light was diffuse. It was bright, it did not cast harsh shadows.

I am a little vague on the details of the tube lights� I know that they were 48" long and there were two of them. I do not know if they were t8, t12, etc.

The center track lights are turned on with one switch. The switch is a two switch fixture, and the other switch controls the dining room light. The track lights over the (yet to be installed) sink are turned on with one switch, and that is a two switch fixture with the other switch controlling the garbage disposal.

I did go to a store and look at some options. I like the look, light output, and dimming ability of the Cree lights. If we go the recessed lighting route, that will most likely be our choice.

I agree with you that our track light will most likely end up being removed!

pudgybaby, the lighting we had in our kitchen sounds exactly the same as you had! Thank you for your advice, as well as everyone else.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Kitchens Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here