Lighting for worktops

Because of the way most kitchens are organised, with units against the wall, it’s likely that when preparing food you’ have to work with your back to the main lighting. And the shadow this will cast over the work surface can be a nuisance. The easiest and neatest way of getting round this problem is to fit a fluorescent light to the underside of the wall cupboard. In fact, with some kitchen units there is already provision for a light to be fitted here. You can either use a small fitting with a miniature tube , or a standard tube, which can be bought in a variety of lengths. It’s also worthwhile installing a separate switch to control the work surface light, so it can be controlled separately from the main lighting. However, you could, if you wished, control several work surface lights from the same point.

Wiring in the fitting and switch

To keep the cable runs as simple as possible, you’ll need to install a four-terminal junction box in the ceiling void. Usually, it’s best to do this directly above the position of the light. From this you have to run 1.Omm? Two-core and earth cable to the light and switch positions, and to where you’re going to link up with the main lighting circuit. This could be at a loop-in ceiling rose or at another junction box. Which you’ll also have to install.

Before dropping the cable down to the position of the new switch, you’ll have to cut a chase in the wall and chop out a hole for the switch mounting box, so the cable is concealed and the switch faceplate is set flush with the wall. You can, of course, surface-mount everything, but this isn’t very attractive. If you’re lucky and the cable to the existing main lighting switch is run down the wall in PVC conduit, you may be able to thread the new cable alongside and into the mounting box. All you then have to do is to exchange the one-gang switch for a two-gang type. This will save disturbing the decoration, but it limits the location of your new light control.

The cable to the new light itself can also be chased into the wall, but if the wall cupboards are already up and you don’t want to take one of them down, you can run the cable (protected in PVC trunking) down the inside of the cupboard and into the top of the fitting. This is simply screwed into place to the underside of the cupboard.

One of the problems with a light in this position can be glare, particularly as the light is set virtually at eye level. Unless the light can be recessed in the bottom of the cupboard, you’ll have to fit a diffuser. This is unlikely to be a perfect solution, so the best thing to do is to conceal the tube behind a strip of wood (a baffle) that can be finished to match the cupboards. In fact the doors on some units protrude below the bottom edge of the frame precisely to serve this purpose…

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