How to Incorporate LED Lights in Kitchen

Kitchen Design Partner recommends using layers of LEDs in your remodeled kitchen

How to Incorporate LED Lights in Kitchen

LED lights in the kitchen have replaced incandescents, fluorescents and halogens as the ideal choice. As a result, lighting should be considered as carefully as choices for appliances, cabinet finish, flooring material and color scheme.

Just as a you work hard to create nutritious and delicious meals for your family, you and your kitchen designer must work together to create the right balance of lighting. Consequently, the work you do in the kitchen, from meal prep and cooking to homework and list-making, will be well-lit.

Use a Variety

Lighting designers recommend using a variety of LED lights to create balanced layers of light.

There are three different types of lights – each with a different function – that must be incorporated into your new kitchen, and they are

  1. Ambient
  2. Task
  3. Accent

A good lighting plan starts with ambient lighting, which is overhead lights. Examples include ceiling fixtures or track lighting, chandeliers and pendant lights.

Next, your plan will determine where to place the task lighting. For instance, under cabinet strip lights or pucks get installed over each work zone to give extra light without causing shadows.

To tie your lighting plan together, add accent lights. Above all, accent lights call attention to your new kitchen’s architectural details and decorative items.

LEDs in Kitchen are Great for Ambient Lighting

LED under cabinet lights
LEDs are ideal for under cabinet light in the kitchen

Ambient lighting is the main source of light in your kitchen. Consequently, your designer will use it to add light where none currently exists. Use a combination of different styles of LED lights to spread out light evenly across the room.

Recessed ceiling lights are typically the main source of ambient lighting. Homeowners used halogen or other incandescent sources in the past.  Now, long-lasting, energy-saving LEDS have replaced those old-fashioned fixtures. You can get all the light you need from a series of 1- or 2-inch downlights instead of the 6- or 8-inch cans of decades past. Many homeowners love the less cluttered ceiling that results

LEDs for Task Lights

Ambient lighting often leaves shadows under wall cabinets and in corners, making it hard to read recipes or ice cupcakes. To work safely, task lighting will light up your work areas properly. Think about the tools you use in the kitchen – knives, graters, heat and flames. Naturally you want to be able to see what you’re doing!

Under cabinet task lighting will light your work surfaces completely. Therefore, you can work safely.

Use LEDs for task lighting in your remodeled kitchen

LED lights are ideal for undercabinet lighting. They don’t overheat like the halogens used in the past. LEDS stay cool. As a result, your hands won’t get burned if you accidently touch them.

Under Cabinet Lights

Under cabinet lighting options include LED strip lights and LED puck lights. LED strip lights are used under the cabinet to light your counter space. The puck lights are directional. They create a pool of light that’s perfect for places where task lighting is needed, such as over a cutting board.

LEDs for Accent Lights

Any well-designed kitchen will include accent lights. Therefore, you’ll want to include toe kick lights, interior cabinet lights and in any other place where you want to accentuate your favorite things.

Use LEDs to light cabinet interiors in your remodeled kitchen

If you’re showing off serving pieces or collectibles in glass-front cabinets, LED interior lights are perfect. Further, rope lighting can be installed behind face frames of the cabinet. Additionally, recessed puck lights can be installed in cabinet tops. This light shines down from top to bottom. And you don’t have to worry about them getting too hot inside the cabinet – they stay cool.

Many Ways to Use LEDS as Accent Lights

LED lights are very versatile. Consequently, they are ideal for use as accent lights.

Hafele’s Loox system can be used as task lighting in different places, such as:

  • inside drawers so they light up when opened
  • in deep base cabinets so you can see what’s inside
  • light up dark corners or any other areas that need more light.
Use LEDs to light up drawers in your remodeled kitchen

Rope lights or LED tape can be used to light cabinet toe kicks. They can be both practical and fun. They can serve as a type of path light for rooms where extra safety measures are needed.

Motion sensors installed so that the lights turn on when someone enters the room makes a nice safety feature.

Use LEDs as accent lights in your remodeled kitchen

Glass countertops can be lit from below by LED lights for a dramatic effect. Additionally, LEDs can be used in a tray ceiling to highlight this architectural feature.

Designer tip: LEDs as accent lights can be used throughout your home.

Why Use LEDs in Kitchen

There are excellent reasons why LED lighting is perfect for your new kitchen. Each reason helps to make your kitchen more enjoyable and safer.

Reason #1. Brightness = Safety

The first reason to use LEDS is that traditional lighting is not as bright as LED light. In the kitchen where you are working with knives and hot burners, it is much better to have plenty of light to make sure you don’t injure yourself.

The bright, clean light that LEDs create makes it much easier to use your kitchen. Unless you are directly under halogen or incandescent bulbs, it is difficult to see what you are doing.

LEDs installed underneath upper cabinets provide all the light needed on countertops. This reduces shadows on the counter to almost nothing — a much better and safer way to chop carrots without chopping your fingers.

Reason #2. Low Profile

Use low profile LEDs in your new kitchen

LED lights are low profile. In undercabinet areas, space is already limited, and a traditional bulb fixture will take more valuable space. Therefore, LED strip lights or rope lights are perfect; they tuck up under the cabinet frame.

Reason #3. Energy Efficiency

A better quality of light isn’t the only thing that makes LED lighting a smart choice for your kitchen. LED lights have a greater energy efficiency.

LEDs with the ENERGY STAR designation use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights.

Reason #4. Longer Life

LEDs will work for years. If you don’t look forward to climbing a ladder to change the overhead lights in your kitchen, you should use LED lights because they have a longer working life.

1,000 hours is the usual lifespan of incandescent bulbs. That’s barely a year with several hours of use each day. 5,000 hours or more is LED light’s rating. In other words, at the same rate of use, they will last for decades.

Reason #5. Colored LEDs Bring the Drama

Use colored LEDs for drama in your new kitchen

LEDs can be mixed together very easily to change into nearly any color imaginable. Red, green, blue and white LEDs combine to create a rainbow of colors or you can program them into your favorite team’s colors for watching a game.

Reason #6. Color Appearance

Some people might consider colored LED lights as frivolous. However, selecting the right color “temperature” can make a big difference for everyday lighting.

Another term for “color temperature” is “color appearance.” As a result, you will see color appearance when shopping for LED bulbs.

Color appearance or color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, with lower color temperatures being warmer, or yellow, and higher color temperatures being cooler, or blue.

Early versions of LED bulbs were criticized for being too blue. However, today’s LEDs are available in a wide range of colors.

It’s all in what you like and what you want to see.


For the most effective, efficient and attractive kitchen lighting, you will want to choose LED lights for your new kitchen.

Firstly, begin with where you want ambient lighting to fill in the space where light is needed to light the entire room.

Secondly, figure out where you want your task lights for the light you need for performing kitchen chores.

Thirdly, add in the accent lighting for visual interest in glass front cabinets, in moldings – anywhere, really where you want to call attention to something.  

To sum up: when all three layers are combined using LED light fixtures you really like, you’ve got a recipe for lighting that will make your kitchen bright. 

KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.