How to Install Kitchen LED Downlights Fast and Easy

Installing Kitchen LED Downlights can make a world of difference to the ambiance and lighting. A kitchen should be one of the brightest areas of your home and as such LED lights are perfect for this. There are a few tips to be aware of to make sure you achieve the best lighting for your kitchen.

Now you must use a licensed electrician for the wiring but you can do all of the preparation work yourself. This way the time the electrician will be on site will be less and your bill will be cheaper.

How many LED Down lights do I need for my Kitchen?

This is a question I get asked a lot as an Electrician. The amount of downlight you will require for your kitchen is 1 LED light per square meter. Or 1 light per meter in all directions. Usually, the minimum wattage per globe is 10w LED lights or more.

You can get away with 1.5 meters for other rooms in your house like the living room and bedrooms. Maybe even 2m if you use a higher-wattage LED lamp like a 13w.

It is also best to keep the lights closest to your sink and benches/stove and to be no further than 700 mm out from the wall. The reason for this is most kitchen cupboards and benches are 600 mm wide so if you are standing next to the bench cooking or washing up you don’t want the LED lights casting a shadow if the lights are behind you. So either just above your head or slightly in front of you is best.

So my kitchen is approximately 4.6 long by 2.5 wide, I ended up putting 4 LED lights long spaced 1m apart and 800 mm from each end. I then have 3 LED lights spaced 1m in from the first set which covers the preparation table which has been placed on a separate lighting circuit. So in all 7 LED Lights installed.

The Kitchen LED Downlights I used are Hykolity Vivid 10W 800-lumen dimmable downlights in cool white. I looked at a few from beacon lighting,  (They were much cheaper online from Amazon). It comes complete with a plug and lead for easy installation.

What I really like is these LED recessed lights offer you the option of choosing your color temperature directly on the fixture. With the flick of a switch on the back, you can choose between 5 color temperatures. These colors range from warm (2700K) to daylight (5000K). Make sure to select the color before installing it into your 4-inch recessed hole/housing cans.

The LED Light has been tested with the following dimmer: Clipsal 340E450LM, 340E450TM, 340E450UDM, Clipsal C-Bus Universal, HPM 400L, and Lucci 290998 dimmer.

Kitchen downlight layout plans

All kitchens are different in some sort of way. But here is a downlight layout plan for a basic U-shape kitchen. As you can see it has a skylight to add more natural light during the day. This way you can save power on electricity during the day.

Kitchen downlight layout plans

Down-light Spacing for Living rooms

Kitchen LED light spacing DIY

As we spend most of our time usually in the middle of the living room on tables and chairs there is no need to have you’re LED downlights so close to the wall. Spacing them at least 800mm to 1000mm away from the wall will be fine.

You can also space them out around 1.2 to 1.5m in distance. Try to line them all up in rows of 2 or 3. Plan out your design to scale on paper first. This way you will find any problems like air-conditioner ducts that may get in the way of your lights.

Are downlights good for the kitchen?

Downlights are great for the kitchen due to the huge amount of direct light they can provide. But you must have a high density of lighting to prevent shadows and dark areas while you are cooking. Angled downlights can be a huge bonus in the kitchen as you can direct lighting to specific areas like stovetops and sinks.

How to Install Kitchen LED DownLights.

how to install led down light

Make sure you have an electrician do the wiring for your downlights but you can do all the marking out and pre-drill the holes to make his life simple.

So you want to install Downlights in your Kitchen and don’t know where to start? Well,

The first step is to draw a scale plan of the room you need to install downlights into. This will help you work out the placement and how many lights you will need to buy.

The next step is to purchase your downlights and the following tools. Did I mention wait till they are on special? Visit some showrooms and check out the light color Cool or Warm light. It’s a personal preference. Buy locally just in case there are warranty issues. But LED’s have a great track history and should last a very long time. The price has come down remarkably in the last few years. I can remember when LED down lights were $100+ each now they are around $25 for quality lights.

Tools and Equipment Needed for Down lights

  • Hole saw to suit your size of downlight. I used an hole saw kit for the downlight. Or you can buy the exact size you need. Kits are better value.
  • 12 pack of downlights for the Kitchen. Make sure to be dimmable and 10w or more. These are great Kitchen LED Downlights
  • Battery Drill for the hole saw.
  • Housing can for the downlight. If being used in the USA.
  • Clipsal 413 Surface Socket Plug Base 10 Amp Back wired suit Kitchen LED DownLights if in Australia – These are what the LED lights plug into only a few dollars each. eBay or Electrician should have these
  • Dimmer switch if you need one
  • 1.5 mm 2 core +E cable for the LED lights. An electrician should have this cable.
  • Cable clips for the cable – Your electrician should have these
  • Small junction box to connect the old lighting circuit to the new lighting circuit. The electrician should have these as well.
  • Screwdriver, knife, and pliers
  • 10 wooden skewers – Trade secret, find out more in the article.
  • Cheap Stud Finder – Zircon A150
  • Plaster filler for any holes from old lights and a filler trowel.
  • White ceiling paint.
Kitchen LED Downlights Hole

Once you have all your parts you can start marking out your holes and drilling them out with a pilot hole first, and then a hole saw. To make this job simple use some fishing line or string to get your lights in line. Just attach each end to the opposite sides of the wall. Mark out say 1m sections and drill, do the same to the other side of the wall.

If you have access to a beam finder then this job gets simple and easy. I like to use the stud finders from Zircon as they are reliable and do very good deep scans. No good putting in a downlight above a roof beam.

I like to drill a small pilot hole first. The reason we use a small pilot hole is in case there is a beam in the ceiling. Drill your pilot hole then poke up the wooden skewer. Leave it in the ceiling and then have a look at the roof. You should be able to see the skewer easily in the insulation.

Move apart the roof insulation and then go back down to drill from ground level. If you are too close to the roof beams, you can move a few centimeters and it won’t be noticed, or redo the plan. The small hole can be filled with putty.

Using a laser tape measure really can make your life easy. I use one from Bosch called the Blaze GLM 20. It’s small, light, and easy to use with just the press of a button you have an instant measurement.

Drilling LED down Light holes – With a hole saw.

Holesaw LED down light

Once you are happy with the placement you can use a hole saw to make the correct size hole. Drill slowly and use the correct safety glasses. If you are concerned with the dust there are a few options. You can get someone to hold a vacuum cleaner near the hole saw, use a container or use a Pizza box base as a dust capture device, just drill through it and then into the ceiling, it will capture most of the dust.

Don’t forget to remove the cut out from the inside of your hole saw.

Once the holes are drilled push apart or remove any insulation and then insert the LED lights – plug end first then the switching transformer then the Downlight. The LED downlights will have spring clips to hold the light in place.

Wiring Up your Kitchen LED Downlights

Wiring up LED down lights

Once again your electrician will do this but if you want to prep all the work for him and run the cables it’s best to do it on the ground. Measure out your spacing, and cut the cables to length and wire into each plug socket. Once all sockets are wired uptake these into the roof space and screw them into position near each light. Plug in each LED downlight into the sockets. Double-check your work and or get an electrician to inspect it before going live.

If using a dimmer switch read the instructions, as some require a minimum load for them to work eg: 15 watts. So if you only have 1 LED 11w downlight it won’t work. Also, be aware of the maximum loads for the dimmer switch. Eg 200 watt max load and you have 20 LED 11w lights you will overload the dimmer.

If you are replacing your existing halogen hot down lights see this post here for a more detailed explanation on removal and upgrade installation.

Can LED downlights cause fires?

If installed correctly using a qualified electrician, downlights will not cause a fire. Many new downlights are low voltage and run cooler than the older hotter halogen downlight. Stay away from downlights that are not approved for use in your country as these could be a fire hazard.

Kitchen cabinet downlights

philips hue light strip installation guide

If you have a lot of large overhead kitchen cabinets you could also install some downlights under the cabinets. You will need to install a sub-shelf inside the cabinet to hide the electrical cables and the light bases.

A quicker idea is to install light strips. These are cheap and can be color-changing. Check out our post on kitchen Philips Hue light strip ideas to see how they may work in your kitchen. You can also do smart things like motion sensing, color changing, and remote dimming. All from your smartphone.

What color LED light is best for your kitchen?

There are two main LED light colors that are best for the kitchen they are warm white and day/cool white light. It will be your preference on what color to go for. If you have a kitchen that has a lot of chrome, whites, and blacks then a cool white light will look good.

Alternatively, if you have sandstone benchtops and colors that are more on the yellow spectrum then warm white will look excellent.

What color LED light is best for your kitchen?

Installing downlights with no access above

If you are installing downlights with no access above then all of your work will be from the ground floor. you will have to cut holes in the ceiling o be able to feed the electrical wires to each downlight.

Cut each hole just large enough to be able to place your arm into the roof space. Each hole will need to be next to a ceiling beam so that you can feed the wire up and over.

Once all of the cables have been placed in the no-access roof space you can wire up the downlight and patch up the holes. Save the cutouts from the ceiling and screw them back into place with a piece of wood bracing behind them.

Glue and screw the cutouts to the wood brace beam and fill in the holes with Polly filler. Leave for 24h to dry and then sand back and refill any remaining holes with Polly fill again. Sand back a second time and paint the whole ceiling. You will never see the holes.

I have installed downlights with no access above many times and it is one of the hardest to do correctly due to the limited space. Usually, it’s between two floors of a double-story house. Just take your time and make sure to use a quality stud finder mentioned at the beginning of the article.

If you have a fan circuit connected to your downlights you may want to read up on how to replace a ceiling fan switch yourself.

Congratulations you are now well-informed to start planning your Kitchen LED downlight spacing project. Remember always use an electrician and measure twice cut once.

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  1. Thank you for this tutorial, it looks just fine! This is necessary article for me, because now I’m doing in my small kitchen remodel And I think this backlit suitable for small rooms!


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