A Kitchen Remodel 6: Kitchen Lighting and Electrical

Our original kitchen featured a large overhead flourescent lighting fixture in the center of the ceiling.  Featuring 4 four-foot flourescent tubes, it made provided a lot of light and made for a very bright kitchen.  On the other hand, because of its central placement, when working at the counter a person’s own shadow was cast upon the counter, shadowing the work.  The space featured few other light sources.  An incandescent glass-globed fixture with a 60 watt bulb hung over the sink, the range-hood featured its ubiquitous light, and a pendent light over the eating area that used a 60 Watt globe bulb lamp. The room also features natural illumination from an east-facing window over the sink and a 6′ wide sliding glass door.

My wife hated the looks of both the flourescent and the pendent lights and wanted to replace the former with a ceiling fan. While shopping at the local Lowes, she fell in love with a quirky double ceiling fan manufactured by Allen + Roth (which I suppose is big blue’s version of a designer line of fans and fixtures).  This fan features sockets for two 60-Watt lamps.  The triple-pendent fixture that we chose for the eating area also requires 60-watt lamps, as does the single Allen + Roth pendant brushed nickel pendent fixture that we chose to install over the sink. The microwave/range hood naturally, also has a light in it.

Even so, the kitchen required additional illumination.  At first I wanted to install a number of can lights in the ceiling, However, since the ceiling where such fixtures would need to be installed is beneath a 2nd-floor room I would have had to open up a lot of the ceiling to do so.  Instead, I decided to install lights under all of the upper cabinets.

I really don’t like the idea of supplying power to the under-cabinet lighting by occupying counter-top outlets, especially since I determined that the 6 fixtures would require nearly half of the available outlet capacity and 6 sets of wires would need to be dressed.

Again, a trip to Lowes (I should really buy stock!) offered a solution.  There I discovered an LED alternative that could be hard-wired.  The Utilitch brand LED light fixture , available in 12″, 18″, 24″ and 30″ lengths is designed to be hard-wired.  Although this required extra effort during installation and involved more electrical wiring, it freed the counter-top outlets for kitchen appliances and eliminated unsightly wires hanging below the cabinets.  I installed the lights so that switches beneath the cabinets drew current from adjoining outlets to control the 6 lengths of under-cabinet lights in 3 banks based upon the area of the kitchen involved.  One bank includes an 18″

24" fixture installed beneath cabinet to the left of the microwave/range hood

fixture beneath the corner cabinet and  24″ fixtures beneath the cabinets flanking the microwave/range hood.  A second bank consists of a 12″ and a 24″ fixture beneath the cabinets on the wall above the dishwasher.  A third bank is beneath the shelves over the desk at the far end of the kitchen.

I used THNN stranded wire within 1/2″ flexible steel conduit to power the fixtures so that no unsightly and potentially damaged exposed Non-Metallic wire would  be found beneath the cabinets.

The circuit flanking the microwave tied into another (a different) 3 conductor plus ground double-circuits.  The diagram to the right shows how that switch draws current from the adjacent outlet circuit.

These three independently controlled circuits of LED fixtures provides plenty of work-area-concentrated light to confidently perform any kitchen-related tasks without danger or eye-strain.

Next time, describing the installation of a glass tile backsplash and a faux tin product.

That’s enough for now! Have fun!  Be safe!




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