A well-lit dramatic kitchen can solidify your home’s lighting plan – it can have so much character! So in this guide, I’ll explain everything there is to say about properly lighting your kitchen with the perfect distribution of lumens.
First things first, how many lumens do you need to have a perfectly lit kitchen?
The average kitchen needs about 3500 to 5500 lumens of ambient light. You should aim for 35 lumens per square foot (or 380 lumens per square meter). Task lighting, such as under the cabinet for cooking, should be 70 lumens per square foot (or 750 per square meter). LED strips should be 200-500 lumens per foot (600-1600 lumens per meter).
You can already tell that this question is more complicated than it may seem at first. Kitchen lighting must be the best possible for you to work in there without any inconvenience.
And even if you follow the general rules that bigger spaces need more lighting and so on, you still need to adjust your lights to the design of your own kitchen and your specific quirks.
Table Of Contents
- What Are Lumens And Why Are They Important In The Kitchen?
- Factors To Consider When Choosing Lumens For Your Kitchen
- 1. Kitchen size
- 2. Ceiling height and dark kitchen
- 3. Type of task being performed
- 4. Color temperature
- 5. Style and decor
- Ambient lighting
- Task lighting
- Accent lighting
What Are Lumens And Why Are They Important In The Kitchen?
Lumens are used to measure the amount of light that is emitted from any light source. In short, the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light.
This unit is the only relevant measure for brightness right now. It has almost completely replaced watts, which are outdated. Watts measure the energy used by the light source, which is not accurate anymore, since we have developed way more energy-efficient light bulbs (e.g. LEDs).
So even though lumens will help us determine how much light we need in the kitchen, we first need to establish their relationship to the kitchen area.
Not all areas of the kitchen need the same lumens! While you should try to have about 30 to 40 lumens per square foot (300-400 lumens per square meter), this is only applicable to ambient lighting.
The perfect lighting for cooking is task lighting of about 60-80 lumens per square foot (650-850 per square meter).
I recommend installing LED strips under the cabinet – they have many advantages over their fluorescent and halogen counterparts. In this case, look for 200-500 lumens per foot (600-1600 per meter).
Over 500 would be bright but could work if you don’t have much ambient light like recessed can lights, pendants, and so on. Less than 200 might not be bright enough. If you are unsure, get some dimmable LEDs. That way you can always control the brightness exactly as you want it.
Pro Tip: Install motion-activated LED strips under the bottom cabinets and use a sensor. Super elegant feel and no more toe stubbing during late-night kitchen trips!
Here are some recommended lumens for common kitchen areas:
- Task lighting over a sink: 500-700 lumens
- Task lighting over a stove: 700-900 lumens
- Task lighting over a kitchen island: 800-1000 lumens
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines and the actual amount of lumens you will need may vary based on the size of your kitchen, the layout, and the natural light that enters the space.
Let’s get into that in more detail.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Lumens For Your Kitchen
1. Kitchen size
The first thing that will help you figure out your lumen needs is the size of your kitchen. You should aim for 30-40 lumens per square foot (or 300-400 lumens per square meter). This is only about ambient light though, which aims to create a comfortable and even level of light throughout your space.
For ambient light, you can use ceiling lights, wall-mounted fixtures, or recessed spotlights. For most kitchens, ceiling lights and recessed spotlights should be enough.
Traditional architecture might work better with wall-mounted fixtures such as sconces.
2. Ceiling height and dark kitchen
If your ceiling height is more than 10 feet (3 meters), you will need more than 30 to 40 lumens per square foot (300-400 lumens per square meter).
In the case of ceiling lights or recessed spotlights, the light source will be further away from the main kitchen area. With sconces or uplighters, more light will be diffused away from the source.
There is no clear-cut way around this, but I would suggest increasing your lumens by 5% for every extra foot (30 cm). Remember that it’s better to over-light than under-light a space. And if you’re not sure, you can install dimmers to control the brightness.
For low ceilings, you can read this guide.
Dark kitchens can achieve an interesting, moodier effect, and they are very modern. However, they require more lumens to be properly lit.
If your kitchen has dark paint or low natural light, go for 10-20% more lumens of ambient light.
3. Type of task being performed
Although ambient light is very important to set the overall tone of your lighting scheme, it’s usually not enough for specific things. This is why we need task lighting.
Task lighting in the kitchen should be about 60-80 lumens per square foot (or 600-800 lumens per square meter) of your task area. The most common task lighting for the kitchen would be under-the-cabinet LED strips, wall sconces, and overhead lights over the sink.
If you use a kitchen island, target task lighting could be achieved by pendants. Consider multiple larger ones, and make sure they provide focused beams rather than distributing light in all directions.
Even though chandeliers are not ideal for task lighting, they could definitely work in some kitchens!
4. Color temperature
Color temperature is measured in Kelvins and indicates how yellow or blue the light is. Lower values are warmer and more yellowish (2700–3000 K) and higher values are cooler and more blueish (4000–5000 K). In general, 3000-4000 K is good for kitchens.
However, you can read my guide on color temperature, which explains the benefits of each side of the spectrum and will help you figure out which is best for you.
Go for a consistent temperature that highlights the rest of your kitchen’s design. Warm light is best for earthly colors and materials, such as brown, grey, green, and wooden surfaces, while cooler light is best for contemporary “sharp” architecture.
5. Style and decor
Although it’s always advisable to use three layers of light, the kitchen might not benefit much from accent lighting. If you have artwork or decor in your kitchen that you’d like to light up, you can use LED strips, puck lights, or directional can lights.
Best Fixture Choices For All Types Of Kitchen Lighting
- Recessed can lights (most common)
- Semi-Flush/Flush mount light
Chandeliers are a nice choice for ambient lighting in kitchens. They work really well with recessed can lights and can be placed over your kitchen island or table.
Keep in mind that chandeliers may restrict your options for task lighting. They usually diffuse light more than pendants and do not have a focused beam. If you use the kitchen island or table for hobbies like reading or knitting, or if your kids use it to study while you cook, a chandelier might not be the best option.
- Under cabinet lighting
- Track lighting
- Recessed can lights
Pendants are my favorite choice for kitchen islands, especially in modern kitchens. But of course, don’t use them in conjunction with chandeliers – that would look off!
LED strips under the cabinet are by far the best lighting option for preparing food and using the sink.
They can also be used with a motion sensor inside your cabinets and drawers – just like a fridge light!
- LED strips
- LED puck lights
The installation of these lights is straightforward and they can be used to highlight any artwork or decor to give an extra touch to the overall feel of your kitchen.
A well-lit kitchen is essential for preparing meals and entertaining guests. Not only that, it can also be a design haven if the lighting is used right.
To achieve a well-lit kitchen, you need to consider the type of light sources, the total number of lumens needed, the placement of the lights, and the type of light fixtures you will be using. With the right amount of light, you can create a functional and inviting space that will be the heart of your home!
Are LED lights bright enough for a kitchen?
LEDs can absolutely be bright enough for a kitchen! Aim for 30-60 lumens per square foot. Under the cabinet is a perfect position for LED strips. Ambient lighting is better achieved with recessed can lights, chandeliers, flush mount lights, and pendants that diffuse light.
What LED color is best for the kitchen?
The best LED color for kitchens is white. The kitchen is a functional room and it is best to avoid dramatic lighting. A good color temperature is 3000 K but this depends on your personal preferences and the overall design of the kitchen. Yellow-orange LEDs with a motion sensor are excellent for late-night trips to the kitchen. They can be installed underneath the lower cabinets to avoid toe stubbing!
How many lumens do I need for kitchen pendant lights?
Pendant lights should be about 40-60 lumens per square foot of the kitchen island. Focused pendants can be a bit less, while diffuse pendants can be a bit brighter.
Kitchen: 3,000 to 4,000 lumens. Dining room: 3,000 to 4,000 lumens. Living room: 1,000 to 2,000 lumens.What is the best LED lumens for a kitchen? ›
In the kitchen, the recommended brightness levels run about a powerful 4,000-8,000 lumens with a recommended LED color temperature of around 2,700-5,000 K. Your dining room, on the other hand, warmer temperatures will bring coziness to any dinner party.How many lumens do I need for a kitchen countertop? ›
Depending on the width of your cook surface, 750 to 1,000 lumens of high-quality light is a good starting point.Are LED lights bright enough for a kitchen? ›
The bright, clean light that LEDs create makes it much easier to use your kitchen. With low light halogen or incandescent bulbs, it is difficult to see what you are doing unless you are directly under or next to the light.How do you calculate lumens for a kitchen? ›
Once you know the square footage of your kitchen, you can multiply the square footage by 30 and by 40 foot candles to get a lumen range. For example: 100 square feet x 30 to 40 foot candles = 3000 to 4000 lumens.What LED lights are best for kitchens? ›
Using either 3000K or 4000K in a kitchen is OK. The light will be slightly yellow at 3000K and gradually go toward cooler temperatures at 4000K. Bright, cool-toned lighting is ideal for kitchens. However, 4000K is the recommended color temperature for kitchens.What is the best light for a kitchen ceiling? ›
LEDs are fast becoming one of the best options for kitchen lighting due to their energy efficiency, cooler running temperatures, ease to replace, and bright light. LEDs are up to 80% more efficient than their predecessor, fluorescent bulbs, and offer more advantages when lighting your kitchen.What is the best wattage for kitchen lights? ›
What is a good wattage for a kitchen light? A good wattage for a kitchen light is around 100 watts for a dark kitchen and around 80 watts for a kitchen with more access to natural light. Installing a bright enough kitchen light is just as important as fitting the right toned light to ensure practicality in the kitchen.What is the brightest light bulb for kitchen? ›
Bright White (Between the White and Blue Ranges, 4000K to 5000K): These bulbs work best in kitchens and bathrooms with chrome or white fixtures. Daylight (Blue Range, 5000K to 6500K): These bulbs are perfect for reading because they're bright but still easy on the eyes.Is 3000K light good for kitchen? ›
3000K can certainly be good for kitchens. Keep in mind though, a 3000K color temperature works best with wood cabinetry and more earthy tones. It's not best for kitchens with a more contemporary look or with white cabinetry. A 3000k color temperature on white cabinetry can often make the cabinets look pink in color.
You need bright daylight bulbs in rooms when you're reading or working on projects like cooking and crafting. Daylight bulbs are ideal for focused task lighting in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms.Can you have too much lighting in a kitchen? ›
Kitchen lighting mistake #1: Overlighting your kitchen
While they provide good general – or ambient – lighting, having too many downlights in a kitchen can lead to your space feeling harsh and clinical, while some areas will still be insufficiently lit or cast into shadow.
4000K LED lights are generally considered to be a cooler, brighter color temperature that is better suited for areas where a more energizing atmosphere is desired, such as an office or kitchen. For a bedroom, a warmer color temperature such as 2700K or 3000K may be more suitable.How many lumens per square foot kitchen? ›
As a handy rule of thumb, a sitting room or bedroom will generally require around 10-20 lumens per square foot, while a bathroom or kitchen will need a stronger level of lighting, at around 70-80 lumens per square foot. To work out the lumens you need, simply multiply the square footage of the room by this figure.How big should a kitchen light be? ›
Calculate the right fixture size for your room using this basic formula: measure the room's width in feet and multiply it by two. The resulting number is the approximate measurement — in inches — that is the ideal diameter for your fixture.How do I know how many lumens I need? ›
Summary: Calculating Total Lumens Needed for a Room
Multiply your room square footage by the footcandle requirement. For example, a 100-square foot living room, which needs 20 foot candles, will need 2,000 lumens. A 100-square foot dining room, which needs 40 foot-candles, will need 4,000 lumens.
Bright white bulbs often work better in bathrooms or kitchens, especially when chrome fixtures are present. If you need to do a lot of reading, daylight bulbs are an excellent choice.Is 6500K too bright for kitchen? ›
3100K-4500K: gives off a bright amount of white light; best for kitchens, offices, work spaces and vanities where task lighting is needed. 4600K-6500K: gives off a bright amount of blue-white light, similar to that of daylight; best for display areas and work environments where very bright illumination is needed.What is the best kitchen lighting for seniors? ›
Consider switching to Compact Fluorescent (CFL) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs because a 15 watt CFL or a 10 watt LED will give you the same light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. So you could get up to 4 times more light by switching to CFL and 6 times more light by changing to LED.What is the best lighting for a dark kitchen? ›
Under-the-cabinet lighting is the best fix for a dark and cramped kitchen. Choose from puck lights, fluorescent light bars, or LED light bars to brighten up your space.
Light blue is a good go-to color for kitchen ceilings. Reminiscent of the sky, it feels light and airy. If you have a really large kitchen and very high ceilings, you can go with a more bold hue such as dark gray or navy blue.What color LED light is best for kitchen? ›
Warm white (3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin) is more yellowish-white. These bulbs are best suited for kitchens and bathrooms.Which is brighter daylight or bright white? ›
If they have the same lumen count, they will be equally bright. However, you may perceive the daylight bulb as brighter of the two because it lies in the cooler temperature range of blue. Colour temperatures are measured in Kelvin on a scale of 1,000 – 10,000.Which light bulb is brighter soft white or daylight? ›
Daylight offers better brightness and energy. Soft white on the other hand offers better coziness and warmth. Keep in mind that the lighting of the room can actually change your mood. Size of the room –Often the size of the room decides what type of light you require.What bulb is brighter than soft white? ›
The three primary types of color temperature for light bulbs are: Soft White (2700K – 3000K), Bright White/Cool White (3500K – 4100K), and Daylight (5000K – 6500K). The higher the Degrees Kelvin, the whiter the color temperature.Is 4000K or 5000K better for kitchen? ›
4000K vs 5000K for Kitchens
5000K is ideal for kitchens with white cabinetry and a modern to transitional style. 4000K starts to cross over into a warmer tone and can “pink out” white cabinets. If you have a darker kitchen with traditional wood color cabinets, a 3000K light would be optimum.
Some people may not like the yellow color of light emitted by an incandescent bulb. For some task-oriented areas, such as the kitchen or classroom, it would be better to light with a high color temperature, in this situation, 3000K is much better.Is 2700K or 3000K better for kitchen? ›
There is a minor difference between the 2700K lights and 3000K lights. However, 3000K lights are suitable for active areas like home offices, hallways, bathrooms and kitchens while 2700K lights are suitable for areas related to warmth and relaxation, like the living room, dining room and bedroom.What lights should be used in kitchen? ›
Warm white lights (with wavelengths between yellow and white light) are probably best for the kitchen.Are LED lights good for kitchen ceiling? ›
LED kitchen lighting is much safer than traditional bulbs. It operates at a lower voltage and emits much less heat than other lighting options. LED light is also more energy efficient, which will reduce your carbon footprint and hopefully your bills too.
"Daylight bulbs are perfect for the kitchen because of all the food-related tasks like chopping vegetables or following recipes that is required." he says. However, if you're not someone who uses your kitchen a lot for tasks, installing bulbs so high in color temperature might not be necessary.Why are my kitchen lights dim? ›
Residential electrical circuits are limited in the amount of power they can each draw, and once the demand on a circuit has been exceeded it becomes overloaded. This is the most common cause of lights dimming in homes and is relatively simple to test.
How Many Recessed Lights? In general, a 12x12 kitchen will use a minimum of three to a maximum of nine recessed lights to illuminate the needed area. Exact lighting needs will vary, so keep your kitchen's layout in mind when deciding the number of lights you need for your unique space.How many can lights in a 10x10 kitchen? ›
Generally, it is recommended to have 1 light for every 4-5 square feet of space in the room. Therefore, for a 10×10 room, a good starting point would be 10-12 recessed lights.Is 1500 lumens too much? ›
If you use candles to light your space, you will save lots of money on electricity, but you won't be able to see much. For general space lighting, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests you shop for light that is in the range of 450 to 1,600 lumens per bulb.Is higher lumens always better? ›
The same relationship exists between projector brightness and lumens of ambient lighting. If you need ambient lighting when using the projector, then a model with higher lumens will produce better results.Does more lumens mean more bright? ›
Lumens measure how much light you are getting from a bulb. More lumens means it's a brighter light; fewer lumens means it's a dimmer light. Lumens let you buy the amount of light you want. So when buying light bulbs, think lumens, not watts.What is the recommended LED wattage for kitchen? ›
A good wattage for a kitchen light is around 100 watts for a dark kitchen and around 80 watts for a kitchen with more access to natural light. Installing a bright enough kitchen light is just as important as fitting the right toned light to ensure practicality in the kitchen.How many lumens per square foot for a kitchen? ›
As a handy rule of thumb, a sitting room or bedroom will generally require around 10-20 lumens per square foot, while a bathroom or kitchen will need a stronger level of lighting, at around 70-80 lumens per square foot. To work out the lumens you need, simply multiply the square footage of the room by this figure.How bright should kitchen lights be? ›
Kitchens generally require a stronger level of lighting than a sitting room or bedroom. The exact amount of light required will depend on the size and layout of the space, but as a general rule of thumb, a kitchen will normally need around 70-80 lumens (units of light) per square foot.
Cooler bulbs are easier to see by, so that's what you want to rely on in the kitchen—whereas warmer bulbs give off that cozy, casual vibe that makes lounges and restaurants so inviting. Besides affecting visibility, the color of a bulb can also change the dynamic of a space just as any other element of decor can.Is soft white or bright white better for kitchen? ›
Although most designers recommend using soft white light for general ambiance, different tasks or rooms can benefit from having bright white or daylight bulbs installed. Bright white bulbs often work better in bathrooms or kitchens, especially when chrome fixtures are present.Should kitchen lights be white or yellow? ›
Many homeowners find that cool, white lighting is best for kitchens as it offers a feeling of cleanliness and modernity, as well as providing full illumination for cutting and cooking. Warm or Cool Light for the Bathroom.Is 4000K too bright for kitchen? ›
While 4000K light isn't too bright and doesn't impose any blue light damage, it's certainly appropriate for rooms like living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens in residential spaces with an aesthetic setting.