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Thread: can light location

  1. #1
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    can light location

    What is the best distance out from the wall for can lights over a counter top . I did some checking with a clamp on light and found if you dont come out at least 36'' from the wall the wall cabinets will cast a shadow on the counter top. 48 '' out works better because the shadow is raised up to the top of the back splash. Then on the other hand the more the cans are placed off the wall the more shadow a person in front of the c top will cause. I am using the eyeball trim and 50 watt lamps . I figure 5 cans will be enough on L shape c top with inside corner and one 14 ft wall and the other wall 10 ft .

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetlag View Post
    What is the best distance out from the wall for can lights over a counter top .
    I usually aim for 24" on center from the wall, which is usually 12" from the uppers (or 10-11" from a soffit), or whatever places them over the counter-top edge.

    I did some checking with a clamp on light and found if you dont come out at least 36'' from the wall the wall cabinets will cast a shadow on the counter top. 48 '' out works better because the shadow is raised up to the top of the back splash. Then on the other hand the more the cans are placed off the wall the more shadow a person in front of the c top will cause.
    All the more reason to suggest under-cabinet lights in addition to the cans.

    I am using the eyeball trim and 50 watt lamps . I figure 5 cans will be enough on L shape c top with inside corner and one 14 ft wall and the other wall 10 ft .
    Don't forget you're going to have joists in one direction.
    Code references based on 2005 NEC
    Larry B. Fine
    Master Electrician
    Electrical Contractor
    Richmond, VA

  3. #3
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    I agree with Larry, it's been pretty standard around here to put them over the edge of the counter, having them out further makes them look more like room lights and takes away from the cabinet accenting they are for the most part intended for, so depending on the trusses I always try to place them around 24" out but what ever distance the trusses makes them on one wall I keep them equal distance on any other wall.

    Also the counter top space under the upper cabinets is where most store things, but the cans still light up the intended work space ( the 1' out from the wall) and the shadow kind of some what hides the stuff in the storage area.
    Wayne A. From: N.W.Indiana
    Be Fair, Be Safe
    Just don't be fairly safe

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetlag View Post
    I am using the eyeball trim and 50 watt lamps.
    I personally don't care for the Eyeball trim except for fire places and or wall washing, or maybe to highlight a hanging picture, we use open baffle with the sockets run up as high as they can go, this is so when standing across the room you don't see the light from the bulb directly, and gives a much better look. but taste are in the eye of the beholder.
    Wayne A. From: N.W.Indiana
    Be Fair, Be Safe
    Just don't be fairly safe

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hurk27 View Post
    I personally don't care for the Eyeball trim except for fire places and or wall washing, or maybe to highlight a hanging picture, we use open baffle with the sockets run up as high as they can go, this is so when standing across the room you don't see the light from the bulb directly, and gives a much better look. but taste are in the eye of the beholder.
    Same here. Unless You are doing a kitchen in 1987, ditch the eyeballs.
    There are two kinds of people - those smart enough to know they don’t know, and those dumb enough to insist they do.-----Margery Eagan

    Open shop since 1988

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by electricmanscott View Post
    Same here. Unless You are doing a kitchen in 1987, ditch the eyeballs.
    Thats odd I thought the purpose was to give good light on the counter top , you can aim the eyeballs over to it . If thats not the case why do you even put the cans over the c top . I think every one should reconsider the eye balls they can be put further out and shine back under the wall cab . Things on back off the c top will still be in the shadow. If I was using regular cans and not the eye ball I would also come out only 2 ft. The eye balls probably lost popularity from contractors trying to save money.

  7. #7
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    thanks larry

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryFine View Post
    I usually aim for 24" on center from the wall, which is usually 12" from the uppers (or 10-11" from a soffit), or whatever places them over the counter-top edge.

    All the more reason to suggest under-cabinet lights in addition to the cans.

    Don't forget you're going to have joists in one direction.
    I know where the trusses are , I installed them at 19.2, 38.4 , 57.6 , .

  8. #8
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    thanks hurk27

    Quote Originally Posted by hurk27 View Post
    I personally don't care for the Eyeball trim except for fire places and or wall washing, or maybe to highlight a hanging picture, we use open baffle with the sockets run up as high as they can go, this is so when standing across the room you don't see the light from the bulb directly, and gives a much better look. but taste are in the eye of the beholder.
    Well im having second thoughts about the eyeballs because there is no use for them if you are placing them shinning straight down on edge of c top. My idea was good about going out to 36'' and and taking away some of the shadow from wall cabs, problem is the shadow from a person standing in front of c top is a lot worse than the shadow from the wall cabs. At the popular 2 ft distance a person wont cast their own shadow on c top.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetlag View Post
    Thats odd I thought the purpose was to give good light on the counter top , you can aim the eyeballs over to it . If thats not the case why do you even put the cans over the c top . I think every one should reconsider the eye balls they can be put further out and shine back under the wall cab . Things on back off the c top will still be in the shadow. If I was using regular cans and not the eye ball I would also come out only 2 ft. The eye balls probably lost popularity from contractors trying to save money.
    The light will NEVER shine under the cabinet. The back of the counter will always be in a shadow. This is why a good lighting plan must have undercabinet lighting.

    You put the cans along the edge of the counter to shine down on the cabinets and counter top. having cabinets illuminated makes for a brighter overall space. The farther back you put them the worse off you'll be. The light will be shining on the back of your head and you will create a shadow.

    I speak with close to 2,000 kitchen remodels under my belt over that last 15+ years. Not saying I know it all but I do know this type of lighting.
    There are two kinds of people - those smart enough to know they don’t know, and those dumb enough to insist they do.-----Margery Eagan

    Open shop since 1988

  10. #10
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    Aug 2007
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    I second all of the above. Putting them further than 24" means that wherever the person is standing they will be working in their own shadow (very frustrating). Have to have under cabt lighting.

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