"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Ambient kitchen lighting. Task lighting. Accent lighting. Surface track lighting. Recessed lighting. Under cabinet lighting. Above cabinet lighting.

Fluorescent, and LED lights are the preferred choice for under cabinet lighting or above cabinet lighting.
LED lights can last as long or longer than ten years and are energy efficient. For above cabinet lighting make sure that there is at least 12" (30 cm) of space between cabinet and ceiling.
Fluorescent lights may be a better choice for under as well as above cabinet installations. These lights provide bright and uniform lighting. The bulbs are energy efficient and can last a long time. For under cabinet installations it may be necessary to install a cabinet moulding to conceal the light fixture.

This type of fixtures are known as "pot light" (Canada) or "can (canister) light" and "high-hats" (USA). These down light fixtures can have a narrow cone shaped light beam (spot light) or a wide angle beam (flood light). Pot lights come in several sizes but are typical 4", 5" or 6" (10, 13 or 15 cm). Pot lights are mostly uses for general lighting but can be used as accent lighting as well.

Pot lights or can lights cannot be installed in a ceiling if there is an attic with insulation above the kitchen UNLESS the fixture is IC (insulation contact) rated. Pot lights can generate a significant amount of heat and when insulation comes in contact with a non IC rated fixture there is a potential fire hazard.

Kitchen Lighting

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Ambient kitchen lighting. Task lighting. Accent lighting. Surface track lighting. Recessed lighting. Under cabinet lighting. Above cabinet lighting.
We have come full circle. There was a time when the kitchen was the place where the family would congregate as it used to be the only room where it was nice and warm especially during the cold winter months. When homes got bigger we added finished basements, recreational rooms, den's etc. and family activities took place in rooms other than the kitchen. In many newer homes the kitchen has once again become one of most used parts of the house. Not only are meals prepared here but it is also a place to relax, to talk to friends who just popped in for a brief visit, to check the mail, read the newspaper, for the kids to do their homework or to use the family computer.
With so much activity going on it is important to have good lighting and above all, in the right places. One single type of lighting just will not do, so let's have a brief look at some of the options you have for creating ambient and task lighting to help you work more efficiently. When done right you have created an atmosphere that says "this is home".

Kitchens are used from early in the morning till late at night. During the day there may be enough natural ambient light provided by windows and skylights but at all other times we have to rely on lights.
Ambient kitchen lights are in general lights that fill in shadows, reduces contrast and light up not only horizontal but also vertical surfaces. Ambient light is what you need for casual activities. To achieve this we can use a combination of track or accent lighting, under and above cabinet lighting and pot lights. Fluorescent lights, strategically placed, can provide broad and even illumination and on top of that they do not create heat and are energy efficient.

This type of kitchen lighting is specially designed to light up smaller areas such as closets, pantries or larger areas such as countertops by under cabinet lights.

Accent lights are usually small and not overly bright. They are ideal for placement inside cabinet sections that are open or have glass doors to highlight or showcase stored items.

These lighting systems can offer an interesting and more flexible type of lighting and are easy to install in kitchens. These lights can be hand-bent and shaped to provide lighting for a specific area or object. Low voltage lights can be dimmed easily.

You put track lighting just about anywhere you want, over tables and work islands, in the middle of the kitchen for general lighting, or along a bank of cabinets for task lighting.
Track lighting can be focused on different subjects and be classified as accent, or task lighting as well.
These systems need ceilings that are 8 feet (2.44 m) or more in height. They are OK for lower ceilings as long as they are placed over a table or kitchen work island.
Surface track lighting systems give a contemporary look and may appear a bit "out of place" in an older or traditional style kitchen.

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