I'm planning to install a new planked ceiling in the kitchen and
include an array of recessed downlighters to replace the existing ugly
fluorescent fitting. Does anyone know if there is a website that gives
guidance on the numbers and sizes of halogen lamps needed? What I'm
looking for is an effect that gives an even spread rather than patchy
light and dark, so I guess a larger number of 20w LV lamps would be
better than fewer 50w.
We`ve got 11*50W 240v halogens in our kitchen, and its not that big a
kitchen (approx 14 foot * 7 foot) - 2*4 lamp fittings at either end, and
a 3 lamp fitting central.
You might have guessed that these are not recessed by the way :-}
Having moved from 9*R80 60W lamps to the halogen, i`ve been a little
surprised about just how directional the light really is, so although the
overall lighting level is similar to what it was it can still seem a
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The problem with using light fittings (as mentioned by previous
respondents, is that because there is allways some space above them
this highlights the shadowing effect of the halogens, so the eye
perceives the patchiness much more than with recessed downlighters.
In my last kitchen which was ~13' x 8' I installed two rows of 5 20W
LV halogens (from B&Q - almost free - I think total cost was ~£30) and
had no problems with patchiness. The downlighters were eyeball units
(all they had in silver) and I did use the tilt facility on a couple
to reduce the effect of shadowing due to standing between the light
and an appliance. The other thing I did do was to put in additional
10W halogens underneath the wall cupboards which provides additional
light to the worksurface areas which would be shadowed by the
cupboards. These have a dramatic effect on the feeling of light and
warmth in the room.
Two things to be wary of - you will need MUCH more light if you plan
to use dark wall colours (not splashback but background colour) and
make sure you get flood bulbs rather than directional spots (halogens
come in 3 different illumination angles). You might have a problem if
your planked ceiling is a dark colour as clearly this will not get as
much illumination as from the existing fitting, but you will get a
similar problem with any recessed lighting.
Other than that, go for it it looks good.
In that case, you have chosen the wrong type of lighting. Halogen
downlighters always seem to give pools of light. Have you consdiered low
energy downlighters? They need a much larger hole (typically 125-150mm), but
do give a much more even spread of light. The alternative might be
semi-recessed halogen units, which have a ring-shaped diffuser spaced off
the ceiling. That spreads some of the light across the ceiling and not only
makes the ceiling appear less dark (another problem of halogen
downlighters), but also relieves the pooling effect. However, they do work
best if the ceiling is white.
That's what halogen downlighters do, I'm afraid. You might want to consider
another solution. In my kitchen I used 2 semi flush etched glass covered
fittings each with 2 15W bulbs, with loads of task lighting, mainly of 18W
tubes. This gives 60W of CFL main lighting, which isn't overbright, with
102W of fluorescent tubes behind the pelmets. These gives loads of light
where it is needed without requiring the addition of another belching power
station. Some people's halogen solutions end up taking as much as 2kW of
lighting, meaning your kitchen would probably need air conditioning to be
able to be habitable outside winter.
I don't think you're ever going to eliminate the patchy effect with LV
halogen downlighters. As the name says, they are downlighters and unlike
your fluorescent, very little of their light goes up to hit the ceiling;
it is this light diffused from the ceiling which gives such a nice even
By contrast a typical beam-width for a halogen seems to be 40 degrees.
Imagine a 45 degree cone of light from the ceiling and you will realise
that what you get is parabolas (hyperbolas?) of light hitting the walls.
This can look quite effective, but it does mean that you have to be very
careful about placement or you will end up casting your own shadow on
the worktop whenever you are trying to, say, roll out the pastry.
With a new ceiling this is going to be easier. For example, if you place
the lights just over the edge of the worktop (i.e. for a 60cm depth from
wall, place the lights at 50cm) then the worktop should be well
illuminated, as should any drawers you pull out. Obviously floor
cupboards will still be dark, but that goes for other lighting schemes
too. It also gets a little complicated if you have a lot of wall
Solutions to these problems often suggested here include separate
under-cabinet lights and pelmet lights shining up to the ceiling.
Two more things you may like to consider:
1: recessed uplighters can, especially if they are of the dichroic (or
"cool beam") variety, chuck a *lot* of heat into the ceiling void. Take
the manufacturer's instructions for minimum clearances very seriously
indeed. Planning exact positions can take a lot of time if you have to
avoid joists and in-ceiling wiring.
2: replacing a single fluorescent with a bunch of downlighters is likely
to lead to higher electricity bills - you are increasing the installed
wattage by quite a bit.
Martin Angove: http://www.tridwr.demon.co.uk /
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