Kitchen lighting

Having had such a positive result from tinkering with my chandelier, I’ve been thinking about how I could apply LED lighting to the upcoming refit of our kitchen. Currently we are having LED down-lighters in the ceiling, tri-phosphor fluorescent lighting over the worktops, and standard 40w incandescent candle bulbs in the extractor hood.

I think that the main LED down-lighters will be fine, subject to getting the right colour temperature, and having a way to dim them. But I’m now much less happy with the idea of tri-phosphor fluorescent worktop lighting, and the incandescent lights in the extractor hood. I’d now like to go LED everywhere in the kitchen, if only to colour-match the lighting.

The extractor hood is slightly frustrating. All the different hoods are basically just a metal enclosure, some filtration, some fans, and some lights. The pricing for that varies wildly, and without much obvious logic to it. We wanted as large an extraction rate as possible, in a simple chimney style hood, with LED lighting. To get LED lighting we would have had to get a much lower rate of extraction, and pay a huge amount more, so in the end we decided the extraction rate was more important, and got the one with incandescent bulbs.

However, a bit of poking around in the showroom reveals that these bulbs fit into a pair of back to back SES/E14 sockets, and shine down through perspex lenses. So I’m already thinking that I could convert that to LED before it’s fitted. Another of those little 12w LED drivers from Amazon, a couple of these G4 “panel” type bulbs, and pair of these neat little converters from ATEN Lighting (so I can use the existing SES sockets as mounting points) should see me good.

The worktop lighting is somewhat less clear. There are (hideously expensive) pre-made LED lights designed to fit under cupboards, and be daisy-chained together much like the old T5 fluorescent fittings. I guess that’s convenient for the electricians, but at anywhere from £50 to over a £100 a meter (depending on what you buy, and where from!) that’s never going to fly from a budget perspective. On the other hand, you can now buy flexible strips of splash-proof LED’s that come with a self-adhesive backing on them for around £40 for 5m. Simply add a driver and you should be good to go.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple. There are a lot of different makers of strip LED, with different LED types, densities, etc. And what kind of driver do you need? And actually, I’m going to end up with several runs of this stuff, each on it’s own driver. How to do I connect them all together? Worse, in an ideal world I want to be able to independently dim the ceiling down-lighters and worktop lighting. Suddenly this is starting to look more complex. No wonder the kitchen fitter wanted to use fluorescent tubes!

Still, at the moment it looks like I need:

  1. A dual gang, low-wattage, trailing-edge mains voltage dimmer
  2. The down-lighters wired in parallel directly to the dimmer
  3. The various worktop strips to be dimmable, and also wired to dimmable constant current LED drivers
  4. Those drivers then wired in parallel to the other channel of the dimmer

With a bit of thought it may even be possible to add some interesting “accent” lighting, as additional circuits in parallel with the down-lights. But at this point I need to do more research, and talk to people who’ve done this. So if anyone has any insight to add, please leave a comment!

2 thoughts on “Kitchen lighting

  1. Hi Richard,
    I’ve nothing constructive to add really, but I’ve seen used for under-cupboard kitchen mood lighting and, while it’s not the brightest, the ability to configure the colour of each LED on each strip independently makes for a great fun Pi/Arduino project 🙂 (or you can buy the existing controller with remote control, but where’s the fun in that?).
    Now, high-output, dimmable, wide-angle, warm white LED GU10s that aren’t extortionately expensive – that’s what I (and my electricity bill) need.

    • Much as I like the RGB, individually addressable nature of the product you linked to, the customer is not impressed. She tells me that what she wants is nice bright, plain white lighting. And no computer controlled lighting schemes!

      Consequently the approach I think we’re heading towards is going to be a mix of SMD5050 LED tape, and GU10 LED down-lighters. Interestingly, the LED tape can get quite power-hungry when you start using longer runs, so it’s not necessarily as good for your electricity bill as you might at first think. Fluorescent lighting still has LEDs comprehensively whipped when it comes to light output for a given input power – but the options for creativity with LEDs are much broader.

      You pays your money and takes your choice, basically.

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