Wiring a Kitchen
This kitchen combines ambient track and cove lighting, area lighting from a canister light over the sink and pendant light, and task lighting from undercabinet halogens and fluorescents. Halogens placed inside a cabinet provide accent lighting.
Types of lighting
General lighting (or ambient lighting) is usually provided by ceiling-mounted fixtures. Consider fluorescent fixtures with daylight tubes and opaque lenses to disperse the light. Or install a series of recessed canister lights or incandescent fixtures.
If you use a track fixture for general lighting, you get better illumination if you run several tracks around the room rather than having a single track in the middle. That way the light comes from several different directions.
Cove lighting mounts on top of wall cabinets and points upward, providing general lighting and creating a halo effect.
Area lighting focuses on a certain spot while also providing some general illumination. A recessed canister light equipped with a spotlight bulb, for instance, may shine down on the sink. Be sure to position it so the person doing dishes does not cast a shadow over the work area.
Pendant lights are ideal area lights placed over a dining table or a counter. Position them over the center of the table or counter and adjust the heights so they do not shine into people's eyes.
Task lighting directs a beam of light at a work surface. The position of task lighting is critical: It must be in front of the worker to eliminate shadows but it must not shine into the worker's eyes. A perfect location is available in almost every kitchen: the underside of wall cabinets. Undercabinet lights are available as fluorescent or low-voltage halogen fixtures.
Accent lighting spotlights an object such as a wall hanging. Small lights inside a glass-door cabinet draw attention to a collection of fine china and crystal.
You can put in a grow light pointed at decorative or culinary plants. A typical grow light cannot supply plants with all the light they need, but it can be a supplement.
Think carefully about the location of switches. If you position four or five next to each other, people may be confused about what switch controls which light. Where possible, position switches near their lights.
Be sure that you can turn on lights easily, no matter which door or entryway you use. Often the most convenient arrangement is to use three-way switches so that a single light or series of lights can be controlled by two different switches.
Typically the lights in a kitchen are on a single 15-amp circuit.
Codes often require a separate circuit for a refrigerator. A microwave oven may need its own circuit too, depending on its size and power.
Most codes require two circuits for countertop receptacles. In some regions, the receptacles must be ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and must be on 20-amp alternating circuits. In other areas, the required arrangement is to have two 15-amp circuits with non-GFCI receptacles wired with split circuits so the two plugs are connected to two different circuits. Check local codes.
An electric range, cooktop, or oven must be wired to a dedicated 240-volt circuit. Other appliances are 120-volt.
An undersink receptacle for the garbage disposer may be split so that one plug is switched and the other is always hot, allowing you to plug in a garbage disposer and a hot-water dispenser. Or the disposer may be hardwired into a switched box. Usually the switch is placed on the wall near the sink.
A dishwasher may have its own circuit, or it may be on the same circuit as the garbage disposer. A range hood typically is hardwired.
- Electrical Safety: Steps for Developing Safe Habits
- Electrical Project Planning & Prep
- Your Electrical System
- Basic Electrical Wiring Techniques
- Electrical Repair, Problem Solving & Maintenance
- Switches & Receptacles: How to Replace or Upgrade a Switch or Receptacle
- Lights & Fans: Mounting and Wiring Light Fixtures & Fans
- Cable & Boxes: How to Install Electrical Cable & Boxes
- New Fixtures: How to Install a New Electrical Fixture
- Fans & Heaters: How to Install a Fan or Home Heater
- Household Voice, Data & Security: How to Install Your System
- Outdoor Wiring: How to Install & Plan Outdoor Wiring Projects
- Appliances & Circuits: How to Install Appliances & New Circuits