Lightbulb Types and Their Pros/Cons for the Kitchen

If you're designing or remodeling a kitchen, you will eventually get around to the matter of lighting. But choosing fixtures isn't simply a matter of style - the bulbs with which you light your kitchen will have a huge impact on how the space feels and how your food looks:

These are just some of the most common choices of bulbs out there. There is not one easy answer that's suitable for everyone's kitchen. And remember, sometimes mixing and matching (one type overhead with another under the cabinets) will produce the best results.

Incandescent: These are the bulbs that dominate residential interiors. It is also what is used in the majority of decorative kitchen fixtures. They produce a warm, inviting light by which people and food look great. But they produce a lot of heat - something you may not want to be adding to your kitchen. And they use a relatively large amount of energy.

Fluorescent: Fluorescents have come a long way in recent years. Until recently, they were associated with flickering, humming, yellowish or bluish light. Today, they can be extremely thin for discreet under-cabinet lighting, or come in compact fluorescent shapes to fit your old incandescent fixtures. They use very little energy for the amount of light they produce, and their higher upfront costs will likely be made up for in longevity of use. Look for a higher color temperature (within the range of about 3000K to 6500K) for a cooler light and lower color temperature for warmer light. One big drawback: they aren't dimmable. So when it comes to fluorescent, think task over atmosphere.

Halogen: Halogen bulbs are similar to incandescents, though a bit more efficient. They can produce very bright light in very small fixtures, making them popular in "puck"-style undercabinet lighting. They do burn very hot, though, so can add to discomfort in an already-warm kitchen.

LED: These are extremely energy efficient and produce little heat. Their small size makes them perfect for use in small fixtures, though they don't produce a very bright light.

What types of bulbs do you use in your kitchen fixtures? Do you have one to recommend that is not listed above? Please let us know in the comments below!

Related: New Under Cabinet Lighting: Utilitech Xenon Lights

(Image: Hampton Design)

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.

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