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Thread: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

  1. #1

    Default Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Hi, we're remodeling our kitchen and I want to use a hidden lighting approach: above-cabinet cove lighting for general area lighting and under-cab lighting for task lighting.

    The kitchen is roughly 11x12 with 8 foot ceilings, roughly a foot from the tops of the cabinets. Floors are an off-white ceramic tile, cabinets, walls, and ceilings will be a medium-gloss white, countertops are a green/gray granite tile, and the backsplash will be glossy white ceramic tile from counter top cabinet.

    Pic: http://www.curby.net/pub/temp/Cedro-...net-lights.gif

    First I'm trying to tackle the lighting up top. I'm planning on using brodwax T5 fixtures, about 6x 3' and 2x 2' for a total of roughly 15k lumens, 150W, 82-85 CRI, unknown FSI. These would be mounted centered on 12" deep cabinets (6" from the wall, 6" from the edge) to keep them hidden yet evenly light the walls, soffits, and ceiling, which will be painted a medium-gloss white.

    So the questions:

    1) Does this seem like enough light? It's roughly equivalent to 9x 100W incandescents, but the light is bouncing around a lot so there will be some loss from absorption. We're trying to keep the colors light to account for this.

    2) Is the usually indoor lighting color temperature rule of thumb of 3000K applicable to kitchens, or should I use a higher temp? The CRI is 82-85 regardless of color temperature.

    3) Should the lights be mounted closer to the edge? I don't want them to be visible and cause glare, yet I don't want them to be so far back that a lot of light is lost before it can get out to light the kitchen itself.

    4) Any other gotchas or issues with this plan? Has anyone else used cove lighting above cabinets to light their kitchen? Do you like it? What would you have done differently?

    Again, I know that I'll need under-cabinet task lighting. We're also going to have a range hood with its own lights, and there will be a recessed can pointing down over the sink. However, I just want to make sure that the kitchen overall will be sufficiently lit. Thanks!
    Last edited by curby; 04-29-2009 at 04:53 PM. Reason: picture added

  2. #2

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Lighting is a very personal thing. Some people like A LOT of ambient light flooding a room, others prefer less light, or carefully planned pools of light. I tend to fall into the latter category. Cove lighting is mostly for generalized, ambient lighting, used with supplemental task and accent lighting. Since you have mostly white/light colored surfaces then I bet that your amount of cove lighting will be adequate for ambient lighting. We recently renovated our kitchen, and placed incadescent rope lights just for a bit of glow and balance. I would prefer a bit more light than we have, but I chose to cut the already out-of-control costs with my cove lighting. I really wanted to try some Phantom Lighting LEDs.
    We also used undercabinet Xenon lights, low-voltage recessed cans (mostly spots directed at walls, table, and sink). A tall accent table lamp, and an over island fixture (dimmable).
    Regarding covelighting placement, it depends on the cabinet design & reflectivity, the fixture reflector design, wall and ceiling texture/color, etc. I've noticed some cove fixtures which were placed too close to the wall appearing kinda harsh (very bright on wall, less diffuse, fixture separations apparent). I would suggest trial and error placement prior to permanent installation.
    Have fun, you'll be amazed at how much difference the lighting makes.
    Oh, and regarding color temp, it depends on what kind of lights you will be using in your other fixtures. I am sure you already know this, but Incandescent tend to be very warm (~3200K or so), while Xenon and Halogen are cooler(~4000K), and Daylight/ fluorescents are variable, but tend toward 5500+ I personally, like warmer colors in living spaces (kitchens and bedrooms), Cooler more accurate CRIs where I am doing color critical activities (Photography/Printing, Shop activities, etc.). I sometimes appears strange if you mix lights with marked differences in color temps, so be careful in your kitchen.
    Last edited by DoctaDink; 04-29-2009 at 12:47 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctaDink View Post
    Lighting is a very personal thing. Some people like A LOT of ambient light flooding a room, others prefer less light, or carefully planned pools of light. I tend to fall into the latter category. Cove lighting is mostly for generalized, ambient lighting, used with supplemental task and accent lighting. Since you have mostly white/light colored surfaces then I bet that your amount of cove lighting will be adequate for ambient lighting. We recently renovated our kitchen, and placed incadescent rope lights just for a bit of glow and balance. I would prefer a bit more light than we have, but I chose to cut the already out-of-control costs with my cove lighting. I really wanted to try some Phantom Lighting LEDs.
    We also used undercabinet Xenon lights, low-voltage recessed cans (mostly spots directed at walls, table, and sink). A tall accent table lamp, and an over island fixture (dimmable).
    Regarding covelighting placement, it depends on the cabinet design & reflectivity, the fixture reflector design, wall and ceiling texture/color, etc. I've noticed some cove fixtures which were placed too close to the wall appearing kinda harsh (very bright on wall, less diffuse, fixture separations apparent). I would suggest trial and error placement prior to permanent installation.
    Have fun, you'll be amazed at how much difference the lighting makes.
    Thanks for the reply. I'm glad that a lot of your thoughts mirror mine, meaning I'm not totally crazy. Your note about dimmable lights is interesting; we're going to have dimmable halogen pendants over the bar but everything else is mostly on/off (dimmable fluorescents are expensive...).

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctaDink View Post
    Oh, and regarding color temp, it depends on what kind of lights you will be using in your other fixtures. I am sure you already know this, but Incandescent tend to be very warm (~3200K or so), while Xenon and Halogen are cooler(~4000K), and Daylight/ fluorescents are variable, but tend toward 5500+ I personally, like warmer colors in living spaces (kitchens and bedrooms), Cooler more accurate CRIs where I am doing color critical activities (Photography/Printing, Shop activities, etc.). I sometimes appears strange if you mix lights with marked differences in color temps, so be careful in your kitchen.
    Color temperature is a funny thing. We're going to have halogens under the range hood and as pendants over the bar, and apparently they can range from 2800 to 3400. A lot of photography sites state 3200K for halogen. Do modern halogens go to 4000K, or was that value a guesstimate? Something the RPI lighting site talked about was how low light levels are better suited to lower temps as well, something also discussed here: http://cool-palimpsest.stanford.edu/.../wn21-308.html .

    As the choices for temp are 3000K, 4100K, and 6400K, I think I'll go with 3000 to best match halogens. That the halogens might be a bit bluer will hopefully be masked by the fact that they're brighter. For under-cabinet I'm idly considering LEDs, but I'll likely go with xenons (apparently halogens are a bit too warm for under-cabinet placement).

  4. #4

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    A lot of photography sites state 3200K for halogen. Do modern halogens go to 4000K, or was that value a guesstimate?
    Halogens between 50-500watt all tend to have color temps around 3000-3150k. They'll vary a bit in terms of green according to how cheap the composition of the bulb is, but color temps higher than 3200k aren't going to happen - Unless the bulb is heavily filtered, or uses a special reflector like Solux. Otherwise, assume 3100k for general halogens. Standard incan is a bit lower in color temp than halogen.

    Color temps tend to highly subjective, as you can tell by our discussions here. For a kitchen lighting though it's generally safe to err on the warmer side unless you have a decor that's already very warm.

    Another subtle consideration is what times of the day you'll be using the room. As a general rule, most people prefer more neutral/cooler temps during the late morning / afternoon and warmer lighting during the evening when they want to wind down and relax. If you have a significant other that will spend a lot of time during the day in the kitchen, then you might want to consider lighting closer to 3500-4100k because it matches outdoors better and feels more energetic. If you primarily will be using the room after 5pm warmer temps feel more comfortable because they help you wind down and don't contrast as much with window light.

    The only problem with up firing lighting close to the ceiling is it shows every crack, defect, grease-spot, dustball, etc in spots you'd never think of. If it's a newer room with perfectly smooth ceilings, up-firing lights work good. If it's an older house I would certainly put a light up there first and see what creeps out of the shadows. Paint with too much gloss in it will also tend to be too specular with lights bouncing off it, so be carefull there.

    Consider a short track with directional pendants on it for over a sink/stove/bar. Combined with the ambient T5's this kind of mix typically looks really good. I'd also consider a DIY LED approach over Xeonon pucks, but that's more of a DIY thing. I trust commercial Xenon pucks more than commercial LED pucks.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Thanks for the insights, blasterman. It's a good point that we shouldn't make the ceiling TOO shiny. I think I'm a little concerned that the kitchen will be too dark so I'm trying to use the ceiling as a good reflector, but if it turns out alright we might go for a slightly less glossy topcoat.

    Re: under-cab lighting I'm still up in the air about it. My ideal would be some arduino-style boards with motion sensors and such controlling buckpucks, but depending on how much time and money I can throw at it, I might just end up getting something cheap and simple for the time being. I'm a bit hesitant about commercial LED solutions too, as it's new enough that it might be rather easy to buy into a crap product. I was just throwing xenon out there as an idea for the under-cabs as it should have good color rendition, lower heat than halogens, and be reasonably economical. My main concern about LEDs for under-cab lighting is good color rendition. For such task lighting it would be important, as I don't want to lose my appetite prepping food! =)

    Thanks again! Any other thoughts?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Note: just got a message from Vent-A-Hood. For future reference they use PAR20 halogens with a CCT of 2800K. I'm not sure if that's normal for that sort of bulb, but it seems a bit low.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    I stand corrected re Halogen K temp (sorry). They do fall in the 3000 K range. I was replying off the top of my head, which apparently has begun to fail me (ya know, they say a tree dies from the top...) . I could have sworn that halogens were cooler.
    And, regarding the ceiling finish, We went with a Flat,less specular finish which tends to diffuse better, and hides ceiling imperfections. I don't, however, like sprayed or textured ceilings. We previously had a white ceiling, but changed it to a color that was one quarter of the wall color, which we have liked very much.
    With regard to the Vent-a-hood lights, It will be very bright, and close to the cooktop. I don't think you will find it too warm as you work at the stove. You may notice a difference if you stand back and compare it to cooler light sources, but in my opinion, it wont be a problem.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Very good points noted here.

    A few things I'd like to add:

    I'd go with 3500k T5s. Two reasons: 1) you have 'off white' coloring and 2) halogen ~3100. I personally think it would be a nice 'blend' of the two tones.

    Be careful with the T5 lamps in that application as they tend to burn hotter than T8s. It may pose an issue in the future given the close proximity of the ceiling to fixtures.


    You might want to look into these, pending your budget. I'd hate for you to find yourself constantly up above the cabinets changing lamps or complete units if hte circuit board ballasts fail.
    http://www.gelighting.com/na/busines...ucts/led_cove/

    We have not spec'd them on a job yet, but I have seen the samples and they put out VERY nice and even light.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Thanks, pony. I already purchased the T5s in 3000K so I guess that can't be changed now. I'm not expecting the heat to be an issue as there's almost a foot between the cabinet tops and the ceiling. The range hood lamps are actually 2800K according to the manufacturer, though the other lights (e.g. pendants) might very well be cooler.

    Thanks for the link to the LED cove lighting. While it looks like we won't be able to use them, do you have suggestions for under-cabinet LED lighting? We were planning on going with simple Xenon lights as a temporary solution as it seems that LEDs still aren't where we'd like them to be, in terms of color rendition, etc. Low power use and long bulb life is great, but that's not the only consideration in a kitchen.

    Thanks again, guys. Your suggestions are very much appreciated!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Kitchen Cove Lighting Help

    Quote Originally Posted by curby View Post
    Thanks, pony. I already purchased the T5s in 3000K so I guess that can't be changed now. I'm not expecting the heat to be an issue as there's almost a foot between the cabinet tops and the ceiling. The range hood lamps are actually 2800K according to the manufacturer, though the other lights (e.g. pendants) might very well be cooler.

    Thanks for the link to the LED cove lighting. While it looks like we won't be able to use them, do you have suggestions for under-cabinet LED lighting? We were planning on going with simple Xenon lights as a temporary solution as it seems that LEDs still aren't where we'd like them to be, in terms of color rendition, etc. Low power use and long bulb life is great, but that's not the only consideration in a kitchen.

    Thanks again, guys. Your suggestions are very much appreciated!
    If you don't like the 3000k T5s, you can change them out to 3500s later. Just somethign to keep in mind. If hte Range hood is the standard JDR75W-E27 (or E26) lamp, then yes, those are typically rated at 2800-2850k.

    LED undercab? Not really. We deal mostly with Fluorescent undercabinets. Pending cabinet design you could use the same T5s as your Cove lighting. In my house I use the Sylvania 'Dot-its' for undercabinet lighting. However, I didn't ahve a chance to do fixed lighting yet, and I haven't had to change the batteries, which I sure will be fun.

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