4 things to consider when choosing kitchen downlights for your kitchen.

Lighting is something that needs to be thought about very carefully when choosing your kitchen and how you decorate it; after all, you’re likely to be spending thousands of pounds on a space where you and your friends and family are going to spend a lot of time. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to help with what will likely be the main source of light in your fabulous new space. 

1. Colour temperature and how it affects the mood:
Unlike the light bulbs of old, modern LED lighting comes in a number of colour temperatures ranging from 2700k-Warm White to 6500k Daylight Cool White. To give you an idea, the older incandescent and halogen bulb produced between 2700k and 3000k. If you’re going for a modern kitchen you’ll likely want to choose something on the cooler end of the spectrum such as 4000k Cool White. That said, this temperature doesn’t really lend itself to mood lighting so you’ll need to consider the option of dimming or including other sources/zones of light.
If you’re after the shabby chic or shaker style kitchen, it would be worth considering the warmer end of the spectrum; somewhere between 2700k Very Warm White and 3000k Warm White. Generally speaking, you’ll need to decide on colour before you actually see it working which can be tricky - however a lot of modern integrated fitting give you the option of switching between colours on the back of the unit and there are even versions now which allow to you use a phone/tablet to customise the colour and brightness.  

2. Integrated or Retro Fit:
What is an integrated downlight?
The most basic way to define an integrated downlight is that the source of light is the fitting itself rather than a bulb.
This option carries with it number of benefits including;
• Greater light output
• Smoother, more consistent dimming 
• Wider beam angles which means fewer fittings
• Most are insulation coverable
• IP and Fire Rating as standard
• Interchangeable bezels 
• Long life and long warranties.

There are a couple of downsides however:
• The cost - They are more expensive but look at the benefits. 
• Should the fitting fail, you’ll need to replace the whole thing rather than just a bulb. 
That being said, I think the pros far outweigh the cons. 
What is an retro fit downlight?
Essentially you’re buying a bulb holder to suit your choice of bulb, normally a GU10.
Again this option has a number of benefits;
•The fittings and bulbs are generally cheaper
•You can change the bulb should it fail or you change your mind
The downsides are
• The fittings aren’t designed for all bulbs - yes they may have the same cap, however they aren’t all designed to dissipate the heat produced by the bulb which in turn shortens the life span of the bulb. It’s always worth checking the warranty of the bulb. 
• Often retro fit lights are not fire or IP rated. I’ll touch on the importance of this in point 4. 

3. Do you want to dim your lights or create mood lighting?
I would say if you’re not sure, just spend a little extra cash and go for dimmable fittings or bulbs. LED lighting can often be very bright and once in situ, it can be very costly to replace it all should you change your mind. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time in your new kitchen and you don’t want to be restricted by lights that are either too bright or not bright enough. There are loads of options available which allow you to choose the mood of your lights, from simply splitting the space into zones using basic switches or dimmers or using automation systems such as Lutron or Rako. 
4. Do you need Fire Rated or IP Rated downlights?
As far as fire rating goes, the answer is YES! Essentially, you’ll be making quite a few holes in your ceiling which at this stage is the only thing protecting the floors above from fire spreading. According the latest domestic building regulations in the UK, all downlights must be fire rated. 
The IP rating isn’t quite as important in a kitchen because it’s quite unlikely they’ll be situated in splash zones. If you’re thinking about doing your bathroom next then you’ll need to select an IP65 rated fitting. 
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Images credit: Astro Lighting