What Are the Different Types of Countertop Lighting?

Christian Petersen

Countertop lighting is used for illuminating counters in kitchens, dining areas, and other parts of the home. Lighting for countertops falls into three broad categories, including cabinet-mounted lighting, countertop lamps, and overhead lighting. Each type of mounting can be further subdivided according to the way it generates light, the way the fixtures are mounted, and the type of bulb used. Home lighting fixtures generally fall into four light generation types including standard incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, and light emitting diode (LED).

Rope lights may be used to provide countertop lighting.
Rope lights may be used to provide countertop lighting.

Fixtures in all three categories come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Cabinet mounted lighting is mounted on the underside of cabinets that hang above counters. It is possible to hide such light fixtures or to use fixtures that have a low profile to make them less unobtrusive while still providing good lighting. Cabinet-mounted lighting can consist of easy to mount fluorescent lights; round, low-profile lights called puck lights; or easy to hide LED lights. While individual LED lights are available, under-cabinet LEDs are often rope lights, consisting of clear plastic tubes with small but powerful LED bulbs spaced regularly along the flexible length.

Countertops may be lit by fluorescent lighting.
Countertops may be lit by fluorescent lighting.

Free-standing lamps are another popular type of countertop lighting. They are usually smaller than a typical end table lamp and much smaller than a tall floor lamp but can still exhibit an enormous variety in style and composition. These types of lights are most typically designed for standard incandescent bulbs but can, of course, use compact fluorescent bulbs that are designed to replace incandescents. Lamps of this type usually have a standard power cord that must be plugged into a wall outlet rather than directly connected to the home's wiring.

Overhead lights are another type of countertop lighting. These kinds of lights are usually used to illuminate countertops or countertop sections that do not have cabinets or appliances mounted over them. Overhead countertop lighting can be of many types, including hanging lights, often known as pendant lights; lights mounted directly on the ceiling or overhead surface, called flush mounts; or lights that are set into the ceiling, called recessed lights. All of these lights also come in a wide range of sizes and styles, and while most are designed to use standard incandescent bulbs, other types of bulb, such as LED, halogen or fluorescent, may be required. Another type of overhead light, called track lighting, features a bracket suspended from the ceiling that holds two or more individual light fixtures which can usually be moved along the track and aimed as desired.

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Discussion Comments


Nice post. I was unaware of countertop lighting. I would like to use free-standing lamps in the kitchen and dining area. Thanks for the post.

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