The kitchen is often thought of as the heart of the home. It is where families spend time together, bonding and sharing meals and memories. A well-designed kitchen considers function, as well as decoration elements, to complete the kitchen plan.
While most homeowners place emphasis on which appliances or cabinets to install, proper lightning and ventilation should always be the main consideration. Adequate lighting helps with food preparation and ensures safety and cleanliness; equally important as ventilation is for conserving air quality.
The ambiance of the kitchen lighting sets the mood for the meal. Pendant, recessed, and LED lighting are common choices for modern kitchens. They allow you control of the illumination – whether you want it bright for a family meal or dim to entertain.
- Pendant Lighting – The pendant light fixture hangs from the ceiling, often over a large counter or kitchen island. While used as accent lights for larger spaces that capture the eye and still provides function, pendant lights are perfect to control your kitchen’s tone, atmosphere and provide lighting for a task. Pendant lighting is gorgeous however, not very practical in a small space or home with low ceilings.
- Recessed Can Lighting – Recessed can lighting are mounted flush or semi-flush and work best in small spaces or if the ceiling is low – for example, in hallways, or above a kitchen stove or sink casting direct light.
- LED Lighting – LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulb available on today’s market. Since the debut of LEDs in the 1960s, the technology has advanced and the price significantly dropped, making LEDs a viable option for kitchen lighting. Add LEDs under kitchen cabinets and around baseboards to give your kitchen a soft ambiance with a touch of flare.
- LED Track Lighting – Kitchen LED track lighting is a versatile option that provides task lighting with ambiance. Track light fixtures, or heads, are installed on a track system that is mounted to a wall or ceiling and pointed to shine in any direction. Track lighting creates a customized lighting experience.
THE BENEFITS OF LEDs
- LEDs Produce Less Heat – For an incandescent bulb to shine, it uses heat to produce light. Therefore, when an incandescent lightbulb pops and you try to replace it immediately, it is often too hot to handle.
- LEDs Last Longer – The average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is 15,000 hours versus an LED bulb of 60,000 hours.
- LEDs Are Eco-Friendly – Chemicals, such as mercury, used to manufacture the incandescent light bulb wreak havoc on the environment. However, the chemical waste is not the only environmental hazard, the insurmountable amount of old, burned-out bulbs are collecting in landfills. On the other hand, LED lighting is a far better eco-friendly choice because no harsh chemicals are used in the manufacturing process and since they last 4 times, the lifespan of an incandescent bulb fewer are in the landfills.
The best kitchen ventilation is a range hood. Many substances, some that can become toxic if allowed to accumulate, release during the cooking process. The purpose of a range hood is to help combat those substances – such as grease, scents, smoke, and steam from cooking from filling your home.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is the main threat when using combustion-based appliances. CO is an odorless and colorless gas that only a small concentration of 1% can cause coma, loss of consciousness, and death. If you cook on combustion-based appliances, you need to have a CO detector to warn you of any problems. However, the best defense is a range hood that prevents the issue by properly venting your kitchen.
TYPES OF RANGE HOODS
- Duct/Vented Hoods – Vented Hoods are connected to the home’s existing air duct system. They are the most effective and efficient range hood ventilation type because the air is filtered to the outside. To ensure the capability to your home’s design, this is easier to include while designing the home instead of during a remodel. However, if you choose a gas range, most municipal codes require vented hoods for this style of range.
- Ductless Hoods – Ductless hoods are an affordable option since they don’t have to be connected to the home’s duct system. This hood filters the air through a carbon filter then returns the clean air back into your kitchen. Opting for a ductless hood does require some maintenance because the filters need to be cleaned on a regular basis – however, they are often dishwasher safe.
- Downdraft Hoods – Downdraft hoods are essential when a range or cooktop is placed Problems with range hoods in a kitchen island. These hoods require specialized designing needs.
While hoods are definitely the ultimate kitchen ventilation, sometimes the circumstance doesn’t allow for a kitchen hood. Here are some tips to improve kitchen ventilation without a hood.
NO RANGE HOOD? NO PROBLEM
Whether it be a rental, small apartment, a new sleek design, a range hood is not always an option. Here two tips that may help you –
- Use a Small Window Fan – If you have a small window that opens in your kitchen or at least within close proximity, install a small window fan. While cooking, turn the fan to exhaust, this will pull the air outside. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help grease from forming on cabinets but does help with cooking odors.
- Use a portable HEPA air filter – If a window fan is not an option, maybe a HEPA air filter can help. They work great with capturing smells but do require maintaining filters.
When choosing items for your kitchen, electrical engineers recommend Energy Star Rated appliances to ensure the most energy-efficient and cost savings available.
Michael Tobias PE is a visionary in the construction industry. His passion resonates as the Founding Principal of New York/Nearby Engineers, an Inc 5000 fastest growing company. New York/Nearby Engineers is the most innovative construction engineering firm focusing on Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) engineering designs in Chicago and New York. Michael has overseen the design of over 1000 construction projects in all market sectors, including LEED-certified and Passive House certified projects. He leads a global team of 50 top performers.