Many traditional lighting designs inadequately address the needs of a kitchen. Most kitchens, because they are by their busy work spaces where the surfaces are all heavily used are only lit by a single ceiling fixture. While this illumination may be sufficient in the middle of the room, anywhere there is an overhang is left in shadow. More than half the work surface, in the average kitchen, is underneath the kitchen cabinets which prevent light from reaching the countertops.
Most of the common solutions to this problem increase the amount of light available on the work surface, but cause other issues. The most elegant solutions, up until recently, have been very expensive.
Because they are long, up to 48 inches in length, use less electricity than incandescent lamps, and are easy to install, fluorescent tubes have been used to illuminate counter surfaces. The problem is that these tubes are obtrusive. Hiding them requires installation of a large valance strip which extends the cabinet downward, making the workspace underneath less useful. As an additional disincentive, the light quality provided by Fluorescent tubes is often harsh and prone to flicker. They’re associated with industrial installations, which can be undesirable in your residential design.
Incandescent “pot lights”, either high or low voltage, can be recessed into the bottom of the cabinets. While this solution is much more elegant than fluorescent tubing, it does bring with it the problems of incandescent light. It’s much more expensive to operate than other types of lighting, and can actually give off enough heat to change the ambient temperature in the room. Also, recessing the fixtures into the cabinets, while looking great, actually reduces their interior space.
The newest form of lighting, currently being installed in kitchen cabinets in previously unprecedented volume is Light Emitting Diode, or LED technology. This “Solid State” lighting is so described because the light is produced without a physical filament or charging of gas particles. LED make great lights for areas like kitchen counters because they can be configured in strips, wired in series, and hidden away under cabinetry with very little effort. The light they provide is highly customizable, and its efficacy (amount of light produced in comparison to the amount of electricity used) is much better than any of the alternatives.
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