7 Popular Types of Kitchen Lighting

Before you start remodelling your kitchen, you need to know what type of kitchen lighting options are available to you. This is because lighting often times requires certain fittings, which need to be taken into consideration before the building process takes place.

Generally speaking, there are two types of lighting: general lighting and task lighting.

General lighting is the light that fills the room. It helps us to see what is around us so that we can walk a clear path from point A to point B. This type of lighting typically comes from an overhead electrical fixture, which can take three different forms: recessed fixtures, surface fixtures, and pendant fixtures. General lighting can also come from the natural light that pours in through the windows.

Task lighting is lighting that helps us complete tasks like reading, writing, and cooking. The kitchen is one of the few places in the home that requires both general and task lighting in order for the room to be practical. Task lighting can come from reading and desk lamps, or as is the case in the kitchen, track lights, pendant lights, and spotlights.

Keep reading for a description on the different types of light fixtures you can put in your kitchen in order to have the optimal lighting for all your kitchen needs.

Recessed Lights

Just as the name implies, recessed lighting are lights that disappear into the ceiling. They are easier to keep clean as the recession helps hide the dust, and they help maintain a sense of openness in the room. They are used for both general lighting and task lighting areas. For general lighting, they are spaced about 5-6 feet apart; about 2 feet apart for task lighting.

If you are considering recessed lights, you need to plan in advance because they require space above the ceiling in order to be properly installed. Ceiling joists, plumbing, and wiring can all limit the location of the recessed lights. Once you decide on the location, you also want to pick out the trim. A baffle trim is a good choice because it helps reduce any glare.

Recessed lights are not capable of lighting up broad areas, therefore, you must install several of them throughout the ceiling.

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Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are an architectural work of art. They should bring the room together by their color, shape, and style, and serve as a focal point in the room.

These lights are an excellent choice for task lighting. Most times, you see pendant lights hanging in twos or threes above a peninsula or an island near the center of the kitchen. Since they hang much lower than regular lights, they bring the light closer to the work area for increased visibility.

While pendant lights are also a great option for providing general light, you must work with the fact that they hang from the ceiling. They work wonderfully in homes with tall ceilings. However, they must be regularly cleaned.

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Multiple Lamp Fixture

The multiple lamp fixture is a set of lights that are all connected to a single rod. The rod attaches to either the wall or the ceiling. Just like the pendant lights, they are a great choice for lighting up a peninsula or island. To help with the glare on the countertop, you can have them operating on a dimmer switch.

You can sometimes find adjustable multiple lamp features to install on your wall.

Most multiple lamp fixtures cast light over a two feet area for each lamp on the fixture. Therefore, they are a great choice for task lighting. Because they contribute to the aesthetics of the room, you should pick them out with style, shape, and design in mind.

Surface Lights

Surface lights were popular before recessed lights became a thing. They are installed on the surface of the ceiling and are a source for general lighting. Because they are installed on the ceiling, they have a tendency to break up the space in the room, for better or for worse. In addition, they must be cleaned on a regular basis, as they can quickly accumulate dust. The dust on surface lights will be more apparent than the dust on recessed lights.

Because they go on the surface, there is little advanced planning that needs to take place, like in the case of recessed lights. Surface lights are much more efficient than recessed lights, and are therefore making a comeback, especially as are more attractive “mushroom” units come on the market.

As they are a source of general lighting, surface lights should be spaced at regular intervals around the room, and complemented with task lighting fixtures.

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Cabinet Lighting

Cabinet lighting can bring your kitchen to an entirely new level. They have incredible display potential, but they are also an excellent option for task lighting.

Cabinet lighting can take the shape of puck lights, which are installed in cabinets that have glass doors. Alternatively, you can install LED light strips underneath the cabinets. Both puck lights and LED strips can be on a dimmer switch, which helps set the ambiance and also reduce the amount of heat.

While puck lights are not really general or task light fixtures, they do wonders to brighten up the room, especially if you have glass doors on your cabinets.

Modern kitchen with black furniture and wooden floor


If you are planning a larger kitchen, you may want to consider spotlights. Just like the name implies, spotlights are designed to project a bright light over a particular spot. Spotlights are task lights, and should therefore be installed in areas where more light is needed in order to complete a task. You might place them over an island or a peninsula. They can hang down, just like pendant lights.

Spotlights are really effective at lighting up a room that has minimal wall space. More often than not, however, spotlights are used in conjuction with general light fixtures, like recessed lights.

Track Lights

Track lights are now made with smaller lamps, which make them another great option for improving the design and lighting elements of your kitchen. Over the years, track lights have really evolved to keep up with the times. You can now find them with LED bulbs, which are an excellent choice because of their longevity and durability.

Track lights are very simple to install, and you can even add pendant lights to the track to help balance the architectural look. They are best suited over islands and peninsulas, and they are not the best choice for a general lighting fixture.

Track lights are a great option for both task lighting and decorating. You can decide how many lamps you want on the track, and you can make the track curve, which adds a refreshing look to your new kitchen.

What’s the best type of lighting for your kitchen?

Lighting can really make or break the ambiance of your kitchen. That is why it is so important to plan ahead and start thinking about what purpose your lights will serve, what types of lights you want, and where you want to install the lights. The kitchen lighting should not be an afterthought, as light is an essential part of being able to effectively work in the kitchen.

Most homeowners will have a combination of general lighting and task lighting in their kitchen, brought about by a mixture of any of the light fixtures mentioned above. This makes the kitchen both a practical and beautiful place to be.

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