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Underlying Value of Under Cabinet Lighting

Date: 2013-1-21 13:41:34

Quick!  What’ s the single most effect method for improving the lighting in what is probably the most important room in your house – your kitchen?

You guessed it – but you read the title of this article!  So, why is it so invaluable?

The primary purpose of kitchen under cabinet lighting is to provide task lighting for countertops, sinks, and stovetops that complements the general lighting in the room.  The underside of cabinets provides an absolutely ideal location for task lighting since the light source is close to the tasks being performed but is concealed to avoid direct glare to your eyes. This is one of those perfect lighting situations where you see the light but not the light source. Under cabinet lighting also reduces the shadows created by the wall cabinets and the overhead ceiling lighting. The illumination on the backsplash also can create a bright attractive surface that introduces a bit of accent lighting that enhances the appearance of the entire kitchen.  If the under cabinet light is dimmable or has a low light level choice, it can sometimes be used as a very effective night light.  In short, good under cabinet light has the potential for adding another “layer of light” to your kitchen lighting scheme that greatly improves the task lighting, enhances the accent lighting, and adds valuable night lighting.

You say that you already knew about the importance of the layers of light in your kitchen but what you don’t know is what to buy.  Well, here’s a very brief primer organized by light source.  In most cases, halogen light (especially 120-volt halogen light bulbs) is way too hot (it has been known to melt chocolate chip cookies that are lying on the counter).  Under cabinet lightingprovide a wonderfully warm appearance to your kitchen and can easily be dimmed to just the right level of brightness.  Fluorescent light sources have been and continue to be very energy efficient, which is something that we finally are becoming much more aware of. However, small fluorescent under cabinet lights cannot be dimmed and some people think that fluorescent light is too bluish and provides an ambiance that some describe as “cold” and “office-like”.  However, these don’t have to be “your grandfather’s fluorescent light bulbs”. Fluorescent light can be very warm in appearance and render colors extremely well – unlike the fluorescent light bulbs of the 1950s.  If you want very energy efficient lighting with a bit of panache, you may want to consider LED under cabinet lights.  Here again, some LEDs (like some fluorescent lights) can be too “bluish” in appearance but you don’t have to settle for those.  Some LED light fixtures have two levels of brightness although most of them cannot be dimmed. They can be a little expensive but (a big “but”) they really are extremely energy efficient, contain no mercury like fluorescent light bulbs, and should last for years (estimates run from about 10 years to as much as 20 years).