Kitchen Lighting Fixture Types

More Lighting Options For Your Kitchen

The most common lighting fixtures found in today’s kitchens are recessed, track, drop-down or pendant, under cabinet and ceiling. The majority of these fixtures are designed to provide spot or “focus” lighting on the functional areas within the kitchen where the lion’s share of any work is to be performed: counter tops, sink, cooking surfaces and eating areas.

Properly deployed in conjunction with global lighting from common ceiling fixtures and ambient light from windows and adjoining rooms, these fixtures can alleviate shadows and deliver light where it is most needed. Improperly used, they can create multiple hot spots and dead areas that are unhealthy for your eyes and displeasing to the appearance of your kitchen.

Light Sources

While most lighting fixtures are designed for use with specific bulb types and wattages, it is important to know the advantages and intended usage applications of each bulb before making your selection.

The most common sources of indoor lighting are incandescent, fluorescent and halogen bulbs. Incandescent or filament bulbs create light by using an electrical current to heat a fine coil of tungsten wire filament to + 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing it to release energy in the form of visible light. The filament in a standard 60-watt bulb measures approximately 6.5 feet in length and is held in place by a glass mount housed in a bulb filled with inert argon gas. The gas prevents the rapid evaporation of tungsten atoms at the extremely high temperature which would cause the bulb to quickly burn out.

Fluorescent bulbs use a phosphor powder coated glass tube containing argon and a small bit of mercury. When electrically charged, the mercury within the tube is changed from a liquid to a gas, releasing ultraviolet light photons which interact with phosphor atoms to produce visible white light. The advantage of fluorescent bulbs is that, unlike incandescent bulbs, they waste very little energy in the production of heat. As a result, they produce between 50 to 100 lumens per watt versus only 15 lumens per watt for the standard incandescent bulb. This makes fluorescents 4 to 6 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs (a 15-watt fluorescent bulb will produce as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb).

Halogen bulbs operate under the same principal as standard incandescent bulbs, but are far more efficient. Standard incandescent bulbs radiate large amounts of infrared heat, which wastes energy and causes the tungsten in the bulb’s filament to evaporate and deposit on the interior glass. The loss of tungsten eventually causes the filament to break, burning out the bulb. Halogen bulbs encase the tungsten filament in a smaller quartz envelope filled with gas from the halogen group. At high temperatures, the halogen gas combines with the evaporating tungsten atoms, re depositing them onto the filament. This “re depositing” process offers several advantages. The first being that the filament within the halogen bulb does not burn out as quickly, increasing the life of the bulb itself. The second advantage is that the bulb can be run at much hotter temperatures, producing more light per unit of energy. Lastly, the small size of the Halogen bulb allows for the manufacturing of mini fixtures that take up very little space and can be installed in small, out of the way locations.


Chances are, you will be installing multiple fixtures of many different types and styles throughout your new kitchen. Your ability to control each, both separately and in tandem, will prove critical if you are to create a flexible lighting environment.

Lighting controls need to be placed at kitchen entry and exit points, as well as at key work areas such as desk alcoves, islands, etc. You may also want to consider incorporating one or more of the infrared remote control units that allow you to control your lighting much the same way as your entertainment components. Timers and electronic sensors that turn lights on and off automatically are also seeing increased use in the kitchen.

Before you go high tech, you will want to make sure not to overlook one of the simplest and most effective lighting controls – the common dimmer switch. Today’s dimmer switches operate by rapidly switching a light bulb off and on many times a second using a switching cycle build around standard fluctuations in household current occurring 60 time each second. These inexpensive switches allow you to control the amount of light put out by a fixture, thereby adapting it to fit your specific needs.

More Articles about kitchen lighting

Dimmers set a lighter mood

Create an lighting environment that is easier on your eyes

What are your options? Controls, fixtures and light sources

What to take with you to the lighting store

Top tips for lighting your kitchen

A Splendid Lighting Construction Will Sparkle Your New Kitchen

The Journal of Light Construction: Designing balanced lighting

3 Most Popular Pages

Kitchen Galleries

Design of the Month

Latest Design Trends

Kitchen Floors & Tile

Cabinet Looks

Exciting New Products