Avoiding Glare in Undercabinet Lighting
Mount fixtures toward the front of your cabinets to keep light on the work surface and out of your eyes.
 
We want to replace the existing cool white fluorescent fixtures under our kitchen cabinets. They are mounted toward the back and the light hits us right in the eye when we sit down at the kitchen table. Our guy at the lighting showroom is recommending a 2700K LED replacement fixture that is mounted toward the front of the cabinets. Is this a good solution?

My first criteria is always to hide the light source … like I do with my best liquor when my family is visiting. The existing fluorescents were easily seen when you sat at the kitchen table because they are facing you. Mounting fixtures toward front of the cabinet allows light to be directed onto the work surface (countertops) instead of into the eyes of you and your guests.

At first, you may think that there is less light hitting the work surface with the LED replacements. Often the glare coming from fluorescent fixtures is perceived as brighter. As long as the lumen output is similar, the amount of illumination will be very close between the two light sources. If you put a white plate under the new lighting and under the existing lighting, you'll see that there is very little differentiation between the two in terms of the amount of illumination.

The two big differences you'll notice is, first, the color quality of the light which will be much warmer with the new LEDs, much closer to that of incandescent lighting. The second is the ability to dim the lighting, which was not a possibility before with the fluorescents.

Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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