Fluorescent Kitchen Lights Guide
Choosing the best fluorescent lights for your kitchen
Bare fluorescent tubes were once a staple feature in the kitchen, but these days they can look a little dated in the home. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are more versatile and can fit into both pendant light fittings and wall light fittings, allowing you a greater choice of fitting style. CFLs work in exactly the same way as fluorescent tubes but are simply twisted into a more compact shape.
When installed under cabinets, fluorescent tubes can be used to light up kitchen worktops; the miniature T5 fluorescent tubes are a great choice for these and can be easily installed. Regular sized T5s fluorescent tubes can also be used under cabinets and the fittings and replacements are much more readily available than miniature T5s.
Alternatively, LED downlights are readily used in kitchens now and can be fitted to provide task lighting for areas such as the cooker, sink and food preparation area.
Whatever style of bulb you choose, go for a cool white or daylight colour temperatures as these will provide the optimum level of light to perform detailed tasks, such as cooking.
Calculating how many fluorescent lights you need in the kitchen
This is not so much an issue of how many individual fluorescent lights are needed (and consequently the number of light fittings) but the amount of light needed. The amount of light provided by a bulb is measured in lumens – the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. The amount of lumens (lm) a light bulb has will be written on the box, for example, 810 lm.
As a basic guide, for a kitchen, the ambient lighting (such as that provided by pendant lights in the centre of the room) should be around 1,000 lumens as the light from this source needs to be powerful enough to light the entire room.
Task lighting, such as that needed to light the cooker and sink area, should come from a bulb with around 450 lm. The number of lumens is much lower as task lighting is more directional than ambient lighting and is often used in conjunction with other lighting; hence, it doesn’t need to be as bright.
- Suspended linear ceiling lights holding fluorescent bulbs are ideal for creating ambient light, and suit the modern industrial look perfectly. These are best suited to highly contemporary kitchens with a large ceiling space.
- T5 fluorescent tubes used in under cabinet lighting gives you the benefit of fluorescent task lighting without the tubes being visible.
- As an alternative to fluorescent lighting in the kitchen, you can upgrade to LED downlights such as the 8w bulbs by Britesource.
Why are my fluorescent kitchen lights not working?
Visit our page Easy Fixes for Slow to Start, Flickering or Faulty Fluorescent Tubes for answers to the most common questions around problem fluorescents.
How to replace fluorescent kitchen lights
When you need to replace your tube, just follow the steps below:
- Switch the bulb off at the wall and switch the circuit off at the fuse box.
- Twist the tube 90 degrees so the pins at each end of the bulb are in alignment with the slots at each end.
- Pull the bulb straight down and out of the fitting.
- Store the old bulb safely. Fluorescents tubes contain mercury which, if the tube breaks, can be a health and environmental hazard.
- To fit the new bulb, simply line the pins up with the slots at each end of the fitting and gently push the tube up into the fitting.
- Once in place, twist the tube 90 degrees until the pins lock into place.
- Turn the circuit on and switch the light on at the wall to test that the new bulb is working.
How can I stop my fluorescent kitchen light buzzing?
A buzzing fluorescent tube will be the result of an old electromagnetic ballast. Replacing the ballast with a new electronic ballast will eliminate the buzzing noise. Electromagnetic ballasts have a wire-wound design and work on a lower frequency than the modern type of ballast. It’s the combination of the lower frequency and the wire that causes the humming. You can find out everything you need to know about ballasts in our guide Ballasts Explained – The Complete Guide.
Find out more about and learn more about the colour options available for lighting with our guide Full-Spectrum Fluorescent Lights: Everything You Need to Know.