The right light shows off any kitchen, creates emotion and meets every functional requirement, no matter whether it's an open-plan kitchen-living room or a purely functional kitchen. Lighting plays two roles: a practical one of facilitating food preparation and cooking, and a more romantic one of providing a pleasant ambience for meals around the table or cosy chats.
For optimum basic illumination of the room, in other words the floor, the walls, the unit surfaces and interiors, all the way to the ceiling, the light should come from different light sources and from different directions. And the illumination should be around 150 lux with a colour rendering index (CRI) of 80.
Appetising preparation in the right light
The part of the kitchen where maximum brightness is needed is the preparation area, where ingredients are chopped, food is stirred and the washing up is done. To make it easy to judge the quality of the food prepared there or how nearly ready it is, all the lamps used - LEDs, fluorescent tubes or halogen lamps - should have very good colour rendering properties. Ideally, they should have an illuminance of 500 - 650 lux and a colour rendering index of at least CRI 90. This should also be taken into account for counter lighting.
In addition to brightness and colour rendering, the third key criterion in lighting design is light colour. In Central and Western Europe, warm white light tends to be preferred in the living area, more or less corresponding to the light from light bulbs. As a general rule, a uniform light colour should be used in all the rooms if possible, including the kitchen. The result is a harmonious light design throughout the home, with no sudden transitions. The Kelvin (K) is the unit of colour temperature which is used to describe the light colour. The higher the value, the colder the light is and the more similar to daylight. Usually, though, light colour is a matter of taste. To meet such individual requirements, colour changing lights are used. These have an infinitely variable light colour from 2700 K warm white to 6500 K cold white.
Whether designed as a surface-mounted light, under unit light or built-in light fixture in the wall unit area, the lights used in the kitchen should not only provide infinite light colour variation, they should also be dimmable.
A great many lights can be dimmed via a touch dimmer switch integrated into the lamp housing or a separate remote control to match the light colour of other lights in the room and their brightness can be dimmed. Control options of this kind offer increased flexibility and diversity of use, whether for a functional work light, to illuminate recesses or unit or appliance interiors, as a cosy mood light or to spotlight products and designs.
The applications for light elements are many and varied. A simple lit shelf can be used either as an illuminated unit base or, alternatively, as a wall shelf with lighting. Models that are translucent both upwards and downwards throw indirect light on to the wall.
In the recess above the worktop, profile strips with LED ambient lighting can for example be used as wall or worktop profiles. The wall profile can for instance optionally be used as a railing system with accessories like an all-purpose rack, knife block, kitchen roll holder and a hook rack or hanging rail.
Illuminating the handle line with LED profiles emphasizes the horizontal lines and gives the worktop a floating appearance. To achieve this effect it is important to light the handle line evenly.
Light panels – Functional elegance