Why Your Kitchen is Incomplete Without Task Lighting

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated November 22, 2021
details of a well lit kitchen
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  • Task lighting helps you see better as you work in the kitchen, especially for more detailed activities

  • Task lighting can double as accent lighting that will highlight your backsplash 

  • Some types of task lighting, like LED strip lights, are simpler to install than others

  • Under-cabinet lighting costs between $230–$300, including labor and materials

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Detailed work in the kitchen—like cutting vegetables and flipping through recipe cards—requires its own kind of lighting. Carefully chosen light fixtures or light strips provide the extra illumination you need on work surfaces like the kitchen island or countertops. As a bonus, the focused light doubles as accent lighting to showcase your kitchen.

What Is Kitchen Task Lighting?

The right lighting makes any space more functional, like adding a lamp to your favorite reading spot or upgrading the light above your bathroom mirror. Task lighting—also known as work lighting—adds focused light over work areas in the kitchen, so you have the light you need while measuring ingredients or stirring a pot of comfort soup. Examples include light strips under cabinets and in silverware drawers and light fixtures above the stovetop, island, and countertops. 

Task lighting doesn’t provide basic ambient light in your kitchen like overhead lighting does. Well-placed task lights define and emphasize zones within your kitchen. If you spend a lot of your time chopping, dicing, washing, and cooking in your kitchen, task lighting might make cooking and baking easier on the eyes.

Task Lighting Benefits

Even if you have 20/20 vision, task lighting will improve the functionality of your kitchen and allow you to read a recipe, prep ingredients, and cook for your family without so much as a squint. But there are additional benefits to the extra lighting as well. 

Have you ever noticed that the best selfies require more than just direct overhead lighting? It’s no surprise that overhead lighting alone doesn’t always look great in your kitchen either. A new pendant light over the island or concentrated light above stone countertops will enhance the look of your kitchen.

How Much Does Kitchen Task Lighting Cost?

white kitchen with cabinet lighting
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LED puck lights or LED strips are a popular task lighting option, because they easily fit under kitchen cabinets and are energy efficient. LED puck lights cost about $25 per fixture, and LED strips cost $20 for an eight-foot strip.

Under-cabinet lighting is the most common type of kitchen task lighting. According to HomeAdvisor, installing under-cabinet lighting costs $265 on average, including both labor and materials. Labor costs account for about $200 of that, so installing your own kitchen task lighting can save you the bulk of the project cost, depending on your comfort level. 

The type of lighting you’re installing will determine if you can do it yourself. LED strips are fairly user-friendly and easy to place on surfaces. However, puck lights may require some electrical work—so don’t install those yourself unless you’re confident with basic electrical work. Hire a light fixture installer near you and save those DIY skills for a fresh batch of homemade cookies.

Task Lighting Considerations

LED lights don’t emit heat, which means you can place them anywhere in your kitchen. If you choose task lighting with other types of light bulbs, like halogen bulbs, don’t store food near them as they can get hot and damage food or cause it to spoil faster.

If you’re ready to spotlight your kitchen design with task lighting, consider installing lighting that has a dimming function. That way you can use it as both task lighting when you’re in the kitchen and general accent lighting when you aren’t. Dimmable lights can make the space feel cozier and be left on at all times as a night light during those midnight snack runs.

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