Kitchen Lighting Ideas: We are here to help

Lighting in the kitchen has become more important in UK homes because the use of the space has changed so dramatically within a couple of generations.  The kitchen is no longer a place where the wife prepares the meal and brings it through to the dining room.  In modern day the space is often much larger, incorporating casual dining areas and maybe a few easy chairs and a television.  Kitchen counters are deeper forming breakfast bars, workstations or islands are built into the centre of room and a smart shiny appliance sits on the counter ready to serve espresso coffee to the family and friends. Does this multifunctional space need more than a ceiling light in the middle of the room? Well of course it does!

Kitchens are the place where everyone likes to meet, children complete their homework, mum and dad chat over a glass of wine even the pets like to sit nearby.  It is a room that should be cozy and inviting and as the heart of the home it needs the correct lighting for all of those many functions.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for information and advice.

Downlights - low voltage or mains?

Downlights - low voltage or mains?

When you have no knowledge of lighting it is difficult to know whether you should install low voltage or mains downlights. We are often asked the question and give the following advice.

So, why would you choose low voltage (12 volt) or mains voltage (220-240 volt) downlights? The simple answer is they are both great ways to illuminate an area however there are some important differences to consider when deciding which option to choose. 

Remember low voltage does not mean low energy – it is simply converting mains voltage down to a lower volt.  If you require low energy then you could choose a mains LED or CFL.

Major Differences
Apart from the voltage, there are some important differences between the two types of light which may help you decide on which is the best for you. You may have noticed from our website we offer our downlights in both mains and LV versions. The fittings look identical as the same castings are used for both. It is the type and quality of light they give which is the most noticeable difference. Low voltage dichroic halogen lamps will make the colours in decoration more prominent and give a better definition to paintings, pictures and objects. Mains voltage halogen provides a good overall spread of quality functional light for general purpose lighting.

You will also find with LV lamps that there is less heat, this is because the heat is directed backwards whilst GU10 (mains) lamps give out heat forwards.  Low voltage is great for commercial environments when the lights will be on for long periods of time.

Replacement mains halogen lamps can cost nearly twice the price of LV lamps yet can have half the expected lamp life.  LV downlights however require a transformer so whilst you win on some aspects you lose on others!

Mains lamps last on average 2,000 to 2,500 hours whilst low voltage last on average 3,000 to 5,000 hours.  Both consume approximately the same amount of electricity however the 50w LV halogen lamp gives out approximately 20% more light than the 50w Mains lamp.

Mains lamps are available in 35 and 50 watt versions and LV 20, 35 and 50 watt.

Mains lamps are available in 25 and 36 degree beam angles, LV beam angles are 12, 24, 38 and 60 degree – depending on availability and the manufacturer.

A transformer like all electronic products, can occasionally fail, our transformers are sold with a guarantee for peace of mind. Mains lamps do not require a transformer which reduces the initial purchase price.

Both LV and mains downlights are dimmable however with the mains option you need to allow an extra 25% capacity in your dimmer unit. A 400w dimmer can run only 6 x 50w Mains lamps. Although you also need to leave some extra capacity in your dimmer with LV say 10%.  Please note you must check your dimmer unit is capable of running low voltage transformers.

In summary:

Mains voltage - cheaper initially as no transformer is required.  Lamps last potentially less hours but are cheaper than the LV option but will give more heat and when the blow (fail) they may trip the MCB board.  Lamps are less awkward to change than LV.

Low voltage – more expensive as a transformer is required (which may fail in the future) but LV have a long lamp life and give out less heat.  More than 20% more light is output with LV.

Our Advice
Ultimately the decision is yours but hopefully this information has been helpful.  If pushed we would always, if possible, suggest using mains voltage downlights only when it is not possible to use low voltage. Either way, please always employ a qualified electrician to do the work.

If you still require advice please call our sales team who will happily assist you.

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Kitchen lighting - advice and guidance

You have just had a new kitchen installed, new appliances, beautiful worktops, attractive cabinets, eye-catching wall tiles, expensive floor tiles with under floor heating yet still you feel something is missing…

We have many customers who come to us after the kitchen has been built complaining how they cannot see properly whilst preparing food because their existing lighting is insufficient or, more commonly, it causes shadows. So many people overlook one of the most important parts of a kitchen design – the KITCHEN LIGHTING!

There are three main types of lighting you should consider for your kitchen and a combination of lighting is both useful and beautiful for different reasons – the best way to show off a room like your kitchen is to use multiple types of light fittings. Try not to limit it to just one!

Ambient Kitchen Lighting

This is general lighting which should be used for your whole kitchen area which will allow you to see everything. You may wish to use a single pendant (or a group of say three) over your kitchen breakfast bar or table to create an ambient lighting mood, especially if used with a dimmer. Not only will the lights be practical but there are many stunning designs which can bring together the whole design of your kitchen.

Kitchen Task Lighting

Task lighting is the more focused lighting. You will want to install task lighting over your sink, cooker or other food preparation areas so that you can see what you are doing. You may want to consider downlights, track lighting, under cabinet lighting.

Accent Kitchen Lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight features of your kitchen - cabinets, cooker alcoves, or art work for example. Down lights or wall lights can be used plus there are many different shelf lights which can add a real wow factor to your kitchen. Use under cabinet lighting, kitchen island lighting, pendant lighting, side by side other types of contemporary kitchen lighting. You may be surprised at how much you can change the look and feel of your kitchen by simply changing the type of kitchen lighting that you use! Whether you have spent the money on a brand new kitchen with new units and appliances or simply updated an existing kitchen we believe it is worth investing in new lighting to show it off.