Why Under Cabinet Lighting Is Required For Kitchen?

by John | Updated: 22th June, 2024

“Oops, I cut my finger again!” I believe most of us have been through this unpleasant moment in the kitchen. You may think you’re just inexperienced while doing the cooking, actually, this situation can happen to the practiced chefs as well. Excluding the inattention you may have, in fact, the kitchen environment is the main reason that keeps you from focusing on what you do.

In other words, the light in your kitchen is too dim!

When it comes to kitchen decoration, most commonly there are ceiling lights overhead, just like the following:

Ceiling Light For Kitchen

Well, if your kitchen is only with the overhead lighting, the problem is there will be a shadow zone generated by the ceiling light. When you’re washing dishes in the sink or chopping vegetables on the tabletop, with your back to the light, you are operating in your own shadow zone.

Ceiling Lights create shadow zone Penglight

It’s no wonder that many people in the kitchen will accidentally cut their hands, as the workbench where you are chopping vegetables is completely covered by shadows. So, how to avoid this unpleasant experience and don’t let it happen again?

Well, in this post, we will show you why under cabinet lighting is important and how to transform your kitchen with under cabinet lights. In addition to the ceiling lights, which are used as ambient lights, the under cabinet lights are more effective, bright, and aesthetic task lighting that will make your kitchen completely light up.

Function of Kitchen Space

Before we start, we need to know that the kitchen environment not only refers to the decoration style but also the function of the space, which is increasingly important. The kitchen offers us the space where we can cook, as well as meal preparation, communication, storage, and dining.

In order to meet the above main kitchen activities, when choosing the suitable lighting for the kitchen, the following are 10 rules for you to take into consideration.

  1. Well lit: the light fixture should give off enough brightness to meet the illumination requirements, so the kitchen can be well lit.
  2. No Shadow: complete kitchen lighting should emit light all over the areas and without shadow appearing.
  3. Anti Glare: LED light needs to be anti-glare design and not dazzle the person when cooking in the kitchen.
  4. Color temperature matching: the color temp should match the theme of your space, so it will not distort the color of the kitchen.
  5. High CRI: the higher the CRI, the more true color you can see, we recommend light fixtures with at least CRI>80. CRI>90 is preferred.
  6. Energy-saving: qualified LED lights are energy-saving so they save you the electricity bill.
  7. Anti-smoke & oil: considering the kitchen environment that is full of smoke and oil while cooking, the light should be anti-smoke & oil.
  8. Fireproof: to avoid fire hazards, kitchen lighting should be fireproof design.
  9. Lighting layering: to make a perfect lighting result, you need to layer your kitchen lighting with different lighting fixtures.
  10. Ambiance: the right layering of kitchen lighting will add a significant ambiance to your kitchen space, and make it from drab to fab.

There are 6 kitchen lighting solutions that will transform your kitchen lighting environment thoroughly, you can check further on Bright Ideas: 6 Must-Have Kitchen Lighting Solutions.

Benefits of Under Cabinet Lighting

Under cabinet lighting is the perfect lighting solution to use as accent lighting in the kitchen. Thanks to their linear design and flexible configuration, they can be integrated well with the kitchen cabinet and completed as one set, so it doesn’t affect the original kitchen.

And, as a complement to the general ambient light, under cabinet lighting gives off sufficient illumination to the areas where general lighting failed to illuminate, such as under the cabinet, above the cabinet, and inside the cabinet. Therefore, the one big advantage of under cabinet lights is that:

1. They Eliminate Shadows Effectively

As we mentioned above, if you just rely on the wide beam ceiling light,  not only it will bring an emotional loss to the kitchen’s space, but it also generates many shadow zones. Usually, we stand between the overhead lighting and the working table when we’re cooking, as a result, the shadow is created on the tabletop.

How to avoid shadow zones in the kitchen

In the above photo on the left, we can clearly see that if just with the ceiling light overhead, the workbench is full of shadows, but with the addition of the linear cabinet lights, shadows are fully eliminated.

  • Install linear lights under the cabinet to eliminate shadows, meet the requirements of washing or chopping:

Install Linear Light Under the Cabinet to eliminate shadow

  • Install linear lights inside the cabinet, which improves the brightness when picking up stuff from the cabinet.

Install linear lights inside the cabinet

2. Creating Layers Of Light

The following is a bad example of the kitchen light. From the photo, we can see that it’s only installed with LED ceiling lights, as a result of poor overall lighting brightness and bad ambiance. The light color is quite yellow and dim, this yellowish color maybe make you feel warm enough, but it’s difficult for you to focus on the work, especially for the kitchen area that requires a well-lit working condition. Besides, with only the ambient lighting (ceiling lights), the total lighting ambiance is too dull.

However, if you add some continuous under-cabinet lights, it will dramatically transform your kitchen into a new look, like below:

Good kitchen lighting with under cabinet lights

From this kitchen, we can see that it’s with Ambient lighting (recessed down lights), Accent lighting (pendants), and Task lighting (under cabinet lights) all installed, which constitute a complete illumination environment that not only improves the ambiance for the kitchen but also make it look neat and bright. For this kitchen, it layers tasks, ambient, and accent lighting for maximum results.

Plus, the supplement of these under cabinet lights creates a sense of layering and reduces the dullness of the kitchen space. More importantly, under cabinet lighting is a cost-effective solution that you do not need to invest a lot of money or time but it can give you what you want – a well-lit and layering kitchen lighting.

3. LED Cabinet Lights Improve The Ambiance

Adding some accent lighting to the ceiling and part of the wall will reduce the tediousness brought by the general lighting. To improve the ambiance in the kitchen, linear under cabinet lighting fixtures are a great solution. You can mount it over the cabinet, it’s not only fit well with the cabinet but also adds depth to your kitchen, provide the relevant space illumination.

Over Cabinet Lighting to improve ambiance

A kitchen with a special ambiance by adding lighting under and above the cabinets.

3 points to keep in mind when mounting over cabinet lighting

  • To let the ray of light fully diffuse, reserve a space of 200-300mm to the ceiling, so the over cabinet lights can give off a complete illumination, see the drawing below:

Installation distance of over cabinet lighting

  • To reduce the interference of light from other lamps, such as the overhead lighting, adjust the mounting distance of the overhead light or over cabinet lights. So both of the lights will not overlap, which shows a good lighting effect.

Installation distance of above cabinet lighting

  • Considering the lighting visual effect, the ends of the over cabinet lights do not have to reach the ends of the upper cabinet. We recommend reserving a 100mm distance, see the following diagram:

Installation caution of over cabinet lighting

How To Choose The Color Temperature For Kitchen Lighting?

“How to choose the color temperature for kitchen?” – this is a frequently asked question. But it is not the last question asked when it comes to kitchen lighting. Choosing the right color for the kitchen is significant, after all, you have to be able to see what you are doing when following recipes to whip up some delicious meals!

As we know, light color ranges from yellow to white. If the light is too yellow, it might drastically distort the color of the kitchen. Since kitchen is an active space, you need to clearly see what you’re doing when you’re cooking. On the contrary, if the light is too white it will make the kitchen appear sterile, cold, and unwelcoming.

Generally, we will use warm white (3000 – 400K) or natural white (4000-5000K) lighting for the kitchen. Based on their color CRI and brightness, they are well suited for kitchens and washrooms.

Different Color Temperatures on the Meal

Other Things to Consider

In addition to choosing the right color temperature, you need to consider the surface material and style of the kitchen furniture, as well as the color of your walls, floor, ceiling, and the under cabinet lighting’s color should match them. If your kitchen cabinets are traditional and classical style, we suggest using warm color cabinet lighting, so it can create a vintage and soft lighting atmosphere.

On the other hand, if your kitchen is modern and crisp white style, then under cabinet lights with neutral with a little cooler white is much better. They can create a fashionable and lively ambiance, as well as leave a bouncing glorious sense on the surface of metal and mirror materials.

Last but not least is the style of your kitchen. Traditional, Modern, or Transitional, what’s your kitchen style? For rustic kitchen styles, they typically look best under 2700K warm white light, as it gives off the yellow glow that perfectly matches the timber, stone, brick, vintage appliances, and fireplaces.

While if you have a modern kitchen, with frameless cabinets, sleek and simple hardware, strong horizontal lines, and a lack of ornamentation, with the natural beauty of the materials shining through, the cooler white lighting looks best.

Modern kitchen with Cool White LED Liighting.

Modern Kitchen with Cool White LED Lighting

What Are The Best Under Cabinet Lighting?

Do you have the sense that it’s not an easy task to choose the good under cabinet lighting to match your kitchen? Especially when there are so many different types of cabinet lights in the market, you are confused. Don’t worry, we have made a post that summarized the best under cabinet lights in the market, as well as a complete guide. No matter whether you’re remodeling your kitchen or replacing the outdated light fixtures, we have included the best under cabinet lighting for various applications, it will surely transform your kitchen into a new look.

Link: 15 Best Under Cabinet Lights (Ultimate Guide).

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