Q&A / 

Kitchen Lighting

A Simple Lighting Plan

The following kitchen lighting plan shows three different lighting levels and the manner in which they are switched. People often shy away from using 3 way switches because they feel they are hard to connect. A 3 way switching system allows you to control one or more lights from two locations. If you want to get fancy, you can even control these same lights from 3, 4 or 5 different locations. To see how to wire a 3 way or 4 way switch, simply click here.

Recessed lights are still my favorite for task lighting over kitchen countertops. Recently I have come to like the mini-recessed lights. These have a rough-in housing that is approximately 4 inches in diameter as opposed to the traditional recessed light that has a 6 inch diameter housing. I used newer ones made by Halo.

They are called H-99 housings and can handle a 50 watt bulb. If you space them at 3 or 4 foot center intervals, they really produce some brilliant light. Keep in mind that you can do concentric rectangles with these lights and have the different rings or rectangles operate from separate switches. This look is really dramatic. I know because I installed this design in my neighbor's kitchen.

If you decide to use surface mounted lights or those that hang from a pendant, keep in mind what these lights will do to sight lines. In other words, if the fixture(s) hangs down too much, will it block critical views into the kitchen or will it block outdoor vistas? This is a fine point, but it could turn into a nagging problem after the job is finished. The legend in the graphic above will help you understand the symbols on the plan.

Note that I just show 3-way switches on the simple plan. You can have one light or a group of lights controlled by any number of switches. In my own home, my entrance hall lights and two upstairs hall lights all go on and off at the same time. Big deal you say. But what if I told you there were 4 different switches that made these lights work? Yes, two 3-way switches and two 4-way switches all interconnected together. It is not as hard to do as you might think.

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