9 Best Kitchen Light Fixtures
Make your kitchen warm, inviting and tailored to the tasks at hand with these best-of kitchen light fixtures.
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Buying a Kitchen Light Fixture
No one wants a poorly lit countertop or island when wielding sharp knives! Kitchen lighting is important for creating a welcoming ambiance and making cooking tasks safer.
Besides finding a style that fits your aesthetic, there are other things to consider, including:
- Type: Do you need a flush-mount ceiling light, recessed lighting, track lighting and/or task lighting such as pendants? Your best bet is to layer your lighting to reduce dark spots and shadows. Jennifer Johnson, CEO of The Light Center, says you should always think about what kind of light you need to complete the tasks at hand. She loves under-cabinet lighting for food prep and recommends recessed lighting for general overall light.
- Ceiling height: Lower ceilings usually work best with flush-mount or recessed kitchen light fixtures. Higher or vaulted ceilings can also accommodate chandeliers, longer pendants and semi-flush-mount fixtures.
- Maintenance and materials: These go hand-in-hand. Johnson recommends “easy-wipe surfaces” such as flat metal or smooth glass. Anything textured will be harder to clean. Fabric drum lights or paper shades can be hard to keep grease-free and won’t repel a messy splash as well as nonporous materials.
- Cost: Light fixtures range from the super-budget-friendly to the stratosphere. Johnson says the lowest priced, quality pendant will probably cost at least $100 to $200 each. All lighting costs vary based on materials, design and brand.
- Installation: Homeowners with some experience can successfully install home lighting, Johnson says. If you’d rather hire a pro to do it, someone with general handy skills will run you $40 to $60 an hour, while a licensed electrician charges $100 to $180 an hour. As with anything, hiring a licensed pro will get you more knowledge and expertise. Sometimes lighting stores have pros on staff or ones they recommend, so ask if you’re not sure.
- Surfaces and glare: Your countertops, paint finishes and other surfaces will react with whatever lights you choose. Black soapstone will soak up some of the light, Johnson says, whereas polished quartz will reflect and bounce the light back up at you, potentially creating glare. Your eye may have trouble transitioning between the glare and a chef’s knife in your hand, especially as you age. Frosted or etched glass, or lenses on the lights, help diffuse light and cut glare.
Note: Lighting experts generally recommend installing dimmer switches on all light fixtures wherever possible.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Recessed Lighting
Johnson likes these unassuming Recessed Can Light Fixtures by Wac Lighting. She says they’re easy to install, offer 90-degree adjustability for flat and sloped ceilings and come at a budget-friendly price — $30 for a complete fixture.
But that’s not all. She says they’re also energy-efficient LEDs, providing a brightness of 1,360 lumens, and the color temperature can be adjusted from 2,700K to 5,000K. This means you can customize the color warmth to your liking, from cool daylight to warm incandescent light.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Track Lighting
Johnson recommends Track Lighting from the Winside Collection by Quoizel, which blends easy installation with style. With its decorative rail, Johnson says it’s easy to add light from one wiring location. And it maximizes the number of lights with pivoting heads for ultimate control of light direction.
Etched-glass shades help diffuse light, reducing glare. Bonus: There’s a matching flush-mount light fixture.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Flush-Mount Ceiling Light
If you have lower ceilings in your kitchen — say, eight feet — you can still have good light. One terrific choice is this Four-Light Flush-Mount by Kichler from the Lytham Collection. Although it’s only 5-1/2-inches deep, it’s 20-1/2-inches wide. Johnson says it does a great job of spreading light.
It’s a utilitarian look, but comes in black, brushed nickel and old bronze to match your kitchen finishes. The etched glass helps diffuse the light, reducing glare and eyestrain while you chop your veggies.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Plug-In Under-Cabinet Lighting
Easy installation, smart control and a rainbow of colors and light temperatures make the Philips Flexible Light Strip a top choice for under kitchen cabinets. It couldn’t be easier to install — just stick it in place with the included tape.
Dial in your favorite lighting, from warm white to cool daylight, based on the task at hand or your personal preference. Or set the mood with nearly any color, all controllable from an app or through your smart devices.
Note: This product is not compatible with Philips Hue.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Smart Recessed Lighting
The Home Depot gave Commercial Electric’s Smart Recessed Lighting their innovation award. Why? Download the Hubspot app and you can control these lights or talk to Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri. You can set timers or colors to match your mood or task.
The only caveat: These recessed lights aren’t compatible with wall dimmer switches, but you can control brightness on the app or with your voice.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Pendant
The Jaylin from All Modern hits all the marks for pendant downlighting over your kitchen island or table. It’s Scandinavian-modern style with a mid-range price. As far as installation goes, the canopy adjusts to flat and sloped ceilings. It maxes out at a 60-watt bulb, but reviewers mention the light distribution is great for tasks below.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Semi-Flush Ceiling Light
If you have a small- to medium-sized kitchen, a single ceiling electrical junction box and a little extra ceiling height (say, nine feet), this Three-Light Semi-Flush Mount Light by Quoizel is a good choice. According to Johnson, you’ll maximize light output with a chameleonic style.
This light fixture can hold up to four bulbs with 100 watts each, or you can install LED bulbs. Etched glass helps diffuse all that light. Try these kitchen over the sink lights to add more functionality to your space, too.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Value Pendant
When you want a pendant light that throws light in all directions rather than just down, it’s tough to beat the design impact and value of the IKEA Felsisk. With modern farmhouse style, this light fixture is also energy efficient when you outfit it with LED bulbs.
It would work equally well over an island or a rectangular dining table. The height is easily changed by squeezing the cord adjuster and moving it up or down. Plus, it’s made of easy-to-clean powder-coated steel.
Best Kitchen Light Fixture: Battery-Powered Under-Cabinet Lighting
If you lack a convenient outlet or hate the look of cords, the battery-powered Ecolight is a fine solution. This fixture offers value (a two-pack for $28) and ease of installation with 3M Command Strips.
It also offers an impressive amount of control for battery-powered lights, including temperature adjustment, dimmability and an auto-off option to save battery life. Each fixture runs on six AA batteries.