Last Updated on August 19, 2022 by The Tutor
Lighting Over a Kitchen Sink
Optimizing the lighting over your kitchen sink is a critical part of any kitchen remodeling project. The lighting for a kitchen sink can be decorative, but also should be considered to be task lighting and best controlled by an independent switch.
Theory Behind Lighting over a Kitchen Sink
In most older homes, you have a single light in the center of the kitchen and light directly over the sink. This goes back to a time when lighting was an afterthought and if it was brighter than a candle, then it was acceptable. However, working at a sink while washing dishes or vegetables can be difficult without the proper light.
Today, kitchen sink lighting serves to provide the optimal light while also adding a decorative flair to your kitchen.
We also suggest reading our popular article how to light a kitchen to help you to build your kitchen lighting plan.
5 Types of Lighting for over a Kitchen Sink
If you are trying to get ideas for lighting over a kitchen sink, there are 5 common types of lighting that will work. Your decision on which of these to choose will be partly based upon your taste, but also the layout and structure of your kitchen will play a part in your final choice.
- Recessed Lighting
- Pendant Lighting
- Over Sink Sconces
- Flush Mount Lighting
- Over Sink Chandelier
Recessed Lighting Over a Kitchen Sink– A single recessed light is the most common type of light used over a sink. Recessed lights were installed over a sink as far back as the 70’s but with a single incandescent bulb or a very hot spotlight. Today, a flush mount LED recessed light can be a very effective way to provide task lighting over your sink. It ranks high on the list for functionality but very low for home décor or design.
Pendant Lighting Over a Kitchen Sink – Pendant lights are often used over a kitchen sink in many kitchen remodel products today. This is where you can get very creative and find styles and colors that complement your kitchen. There are so many pendant lights to choose from that you can get paralyzed by all of the possible options.
One of the challenges with many pendant lights is although some provide the look that you are going for, they may not provide the optimal light in a downward direction over your sink. Read out article on pendant lighting options for more ideas.
Flush Mount Lighting Over a Kitchen Sink– Flush mount lighting over a kitchen sink is a not so popular choice today. They can provide the light you need for the sink but finding one that also adds the decorative touch you are looking for can be a challenge. We do not want to discourage you from adding a flush mount light over your sink but this likely would not be our first choice.
Sconces Over a Kitchen Sink – Sconces are being used now over the kitchen sink in many homes. In some instances, more than one sconce is used and virtually always when there is no soffit over the sink. One of the benefits of an over the sink sconce is they are adjustable which helps to direct the light to where it is needed the most. Sconces would be controlled together by a single switch and you may also want to consider the use of a dimmer switch.
Chandelier Over a Kitchen Sink – If you are going for a high-end upscale look in your kitchen, then you may consider adding a chandelier over your kitchen sink. This option is the ultimate when it comes to adding a decorative touch. These smaller chandeliers are much more affordable than they look and can really help when trying to impress potential home buyers.
Get more ideas by visiting this Lighting Over a Kitchen Sink Pinterest Board
Installing a Light over a Kitchen Sink
When installing a light over a kitchen sink, there are 5 factors to consider:
Height of the light fixture – The installation height will vary depending upon the type of light you choose. Of course, this is not a concern for recessed lighting. However, when installing a pendant light, a sconce or even a chandelier, the height is extremely important. Your sink light fixture needs to be a minimum of 36 inches above the counter with an optimal height of 40 inches. At 36 inches, the light fixture will be even with someone who is about 6 feet tall.
Wiring for the light fixture – If you do not have a stand-alone light fixture over the sink now, then you will want to run new wires to the area just above your sink. If you do have a light in this area but it is also tied into other lights in your kitchen, then you still will need to bring a dedicated wire just for this light fixture. A standard 14-gauge wire should be sufficient if you are planning to use an LED light fixture. The wiring should be directed to a light switch that is dedicated to the light over the sink specifically.
The type of switch – In most applications, we recommend using a dimmer switch because it allows you to control the amount of light and also provides the opportunity to change the mood in the room. However, this single light fixture is just fine when operated by a traditional or a decora light switch.
Location of the Overhead Beams or Joists – Something many homeowners fail to plan for is the potential to have a beam or ceiling joist crossing directly over the sink where the light fixture needs to be installed. There are ways to deal with this issue including the re-framing of your ceiling to the use of a pancake box which can be screwed into the ceiling joist from below.
Structural support – If you are installing a light over the sink for the first time, you will want to center it directly over your sink. However, if the light fixture is heavy, you will need to attach your electrical box to a beam or ceiling joist to provide the support needed for the weight of the light fixture. The additional support is not needed for recessed lighting or flush mount lighting. Even light pendants may not need the added structural support.
Is it hard to install a chandelier over a sink?
Installing a chandelier over a sink is no different than installing a pendant light. The wiring will be the same and you will need to determine the optimal height.
Do you need an electrician to install a light over a kitchen sink?
Installing a light over a kitchen sink is a project that any homeowner can take on without hiring an electrician.
What size pendant light should go over a sink?
The pendant light size for over a kitchen sink is a personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer so just go with whatever would look best in your kitchen.
What height should a pendant light be installed over a sink?
Pendant lights should be installed 36-40 inches above the counter leaving enough room for a 6’ tall person to stand at the sink without looking directly into the pendant light. If your ceilings are higher than 8 feet, you may want to consider installing the pendant light higher than 40 inches over the counter.
How to Light a Kitchen Island – this article talks about the best way to providing lighting for your kitchen island and how it needs to be managed independently.
Under Cabinet Lighting Options – No kitchen is complete without under cabinet lighting. If you are thinking about adding this to your kitchen, then this article is also a must read.