Oftentimes a light bulb is an afterthought after doing a renovation, but that’s a mistake. Light bulbs can be one of the most important and impactful details in your home. That’s especially true in a room like a kitchen where we spend so much time working, celebrating, and entertaining family and friends.
The quality and proper selection of lights and bulbs will affect the atmosphere in the room. Using the right bulbs in the kitchen makes it easier to get work done, reduces strain on the eyes, and can make you feel better. Sometimes just changing out the bulbs in lights you already have makes a huge difference.
Choosing the Right Spectrum
One of the most common problems we see is when the incorrect spectrum of light is used. Lighting can set the tone for the whole space.
Who’s that Kelvin Guy?
Color temperature is rated in Kelvin. Warm white is 2700K-3000K, a cool white runs typically 4000K and daylight is around 5000K. High Kelvin lights tend to be cold, blue, more sterile, and have a more modern feel. For a warmer, cozier feeling, you may want to go with lower spectrum warm lights with more red in them. Yellowish white light typically has a color temperature of around 2700K, with bluish-white lights ranging up to 5000K or higher. Our clients tend to like bulbs in the 3000K range and task lighting in the 3000-4000K range.
We often see mismatches between various lights in kitchens, which feels “off.” Think white lights and yellow lights in your kitchen. It just doesn’t go, and it catches your eye. The problem is that different kinds of lights have different light spectrums. Incandescent lights provide soft, warm yellowish light and have typically been used for recessed down lights. An increasing number of LED bulbs are available for recessed lights, so those incandescents that you have been living with can be changed out.
We recommend flood type LED A, BR, or R bulbs to go in recessed lights because they are a convex shape and cast out light pretty evenly. (Read on for the explanation of letters for bulbs). As a bonus, they last up to 25 years (at three-hours-per-day usage), and you'll avoid the hassle of having to change the bulb for a really long time.
One client, who thought she needed more recessed lights, changed from spot light bulbs to flood -type BR bulbs. The kitchen was so bright the client needed to add a dimmer. Not needing to add more lights was a big cost savings for her!
We try to match the recessed lights to the under cabinet lighting. Often a light looks different based on where it is located - for example, a light inside a glass-fronted cabinet reflects off the sidewalls and looks different than when it is on its own under cabinets.
LED lights are available in a wide range of color temps and are appropriate for task lighting. We see fewer halogen and fluorescent lights used in kitchens these days, although they are versatile because they come in many different shades, from warm to cool.
New on the block are smart LED lights that can change their color across the spectrum of white light. These may be of interest as different color variants may work better for specific tasks—for example, you might want a bright blue-tinged white light in the morning or better contrast while reading, but enjoy a warmer light when you are make a cup of tea at bedtime. Blue light has been shown to interfere with sleep, which is another advantage of adjusting your lights to warmer tones at night.
Choosing the Right Size and Shape
You too can feel comfortable choosing the perfect bulbs for your home!
Shape: Light bulbs tend to be described by their designated shape name, such as globe, reflector, or spiral. Light shapes are denoted with a letter-number-letter. Numbers are the size and letter is the way it reflects light.
The first letter indicates the bulb’s shape; the number is the bulb’s diameter at its widest part, while the last letter designates bulb length. The standard light bulb used is an A19 bulb with an E26 base. The E means that the bulb has an Edison Screw, and the 26 means the base is 26mm across. The A refers to the bulb shape. A is for arbitrary and is the shape that we all think of when we envision a light bulb (C is for candle, G is for Globe, etc.).
Base: There are two main types of light bulb bases: pin base or screw base. It is essential to see which base works for your particular light to ensure compatibility. Consider your light bulb's shape to make sure it will fit and function properly in the fixture and/or with the lamp shade.
Watts versus Lumens
When selecting an energy-efficient light bulb, look at the lumens rather than watts. We've long identified bulbs by their wattage, but that is a measure of energy, not the brightness of a bulb. Lumens are a measure of brightness. The more lumens, the brighter the light.
Over the past five years, a revolution has taken place in the lighting industry. The old energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs that dominated lighting for more than a century are going away. Now more efficient LED or light-emitting diode bulbs are taking over.
These LED bulbs are a great way to save money on energy. A 9-watt LED bulb with 800 lumens provides the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. A 15-watt LED bulb would provide the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb.
What’s the Right Voltage?
For maximum efficiency, the voltage on the light bulb should not exceed the supplied voltage of your fixture. Different types of bulbs require different amounts of electricity to run, which is their voltage. High efficiency bulbs such as CFL (compact fluorescent) and LEDs have a low voltage requirement so they save you money on electricity while still being able to provide you with high lumens (lots of light!).
If you choose the right light bulbs for the fixtures you have in your home you can transform the spaces to have a different feel or better lighting. When choosing bulbs we hope this guide will be helpful.
If you need any additional help with lighting, please feel welcome to reach out. We’d love to hear from you!