Kitchen Electrical Installation

Have you considered the ins and outs of your Kitchen Electrical Installation when you are thinking of upgrading your home?

If you are having a new kitchen installed, it is highly likely that at least some part of your kitchen electrics will need altering or upgrading.

We have seen plenty of times during our works throughout Wakefield that the customer has failed to plan what they will need. This has caused disruption and delays to the kitchen fitting schedule.

If you want to avoid any potential problems with your kitchen project, it is best to create a plan with your electrician.

Kitchen Electrical Installation Planning

It is important to have plans for how the kitchen will look once finished.

These are usually provided by either your kitchen planner, or alternatively your joiner.

Once you have a plan of the kitchen units and how they will fit in your space you can begin to plan the electrical installation.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting that you will work out where all the wires are going, that is your electricians job!

But the locations of sockets, switches and other parts of the electrical installation can be personal preference.

Obviously some sockets need to be in certain places for particular items (think fridge, washing machine, etc…). However worktop sockets, light switches and a host of other accessories can be placed to suit your own needs.

Once you have your kitchen plan it is likely you already have a good idea in your head how the kitchen will look. Most kitchen designers now will provide a computer generated 3D printout. This helps to visualise the plan a bit more.

In the following sections we will break down the typical kitchen electrical installation into bite sized chunks. This should make planning your new kitchen electrical installation much easier and make you less likely to forget something!

Kitchen Sockets

When deciding over the location of the accessories in your kitchen electrical installation, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the positioning of the sockets.

The “main” part of any home electrics, having an adequate number of sockets which are in the right places can make your space convenient to use.

Some things such as the fridge or the washing machine will require fixed sockets adjacent to their location.

However, worktops and other parts of the kitchen are your chance to make sure you have enough sockets, and in places that they can be used.

As a general rule, we always tell people to OVERESTIMATE the numbers of sockets they think they will need. After all, it is easy to not use a socket that is there, but if you really need a socket in a certain place AFTER the kitchen has been fitted, this can prove difficult.

Not only should you consider the “mains powered sockets”, but in a modern kitchen electrical installation you should also pay thought to USB sockets.

Many of us are charging our phones, tablets and all manner of other items from a USB connection. Having handy USB sockets on the worktop is a really good place to plug your phone in whilst you cook.

Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen lighting could be a whole topic on it’s own.

Our biggest piece of advice is to “think bright”. Whilst many people do like to have mood lighting in their kitchen, it is awkward to cook and prepare food when the lighting is dim.

If you do want the mood lighting look, then we advise either using separately switched lights (such as under counter lights or plinth lighting) or alternatively use dimmable lighting and a dimmer switch.

A lot of choice over lighting styles is governed by personal preference. Everyone has their own opinion on which style of lighting looks best and what they would like in their kitchen.

In years gone by people often just had fluorescent strip lighting in kitchens due to the good even light distribution they give.

Currently, recessed spotlights (also often called “downlights”) seem to be very popular with people upgrading their kitchen.

They provide a nice even light (if you fit enough!) and also leave the ceiling looking clean without fittings hanging off.

Another consideration with downlights is that they are easy to clean. No matter how clean you keep your kitchen, dust and grease will always accumulate around fancy light fittings.

Once you have decided on your ceiling lighting (remember, bright is best here), then you can think accent lighting.

Accent lighting can take many forms and can make your kitchen really stand out. It can also provide a nice mood lighting effect as an alternative to the brighter ceiling lights.

A few possibilities for accent lighting are:
  • Under Counter Lighting – Lights fitted to the underneath of the wall units, lighting up the worktop space. There are a number of options available, from “visible” lights that you can see (think chrome triangular), to LED tape or strips which are designed to be hidden behind a pelmet.
  • LED strip lighting – LED strip lighting can be fitted to either the bottom or the top of the cabinets. It can also be used to accentuate architectural features. Very versatile, available in a wide range of colours and can give a very good mood lighting effect.
Either way it is important to consider what sort of accent lighting you would like. It is easy to incorporate this during a kitchen electrical installation, however much more awkward to retro fit to an existing kitchen. Hence the level of finish is so much better to make sure that all the wiring for this is installed at the beginning of your kitchen project.

Electric Cookers

If you intend on using electric cooking equipment, particularly larger ovens or built in electric hobs, you are going to need dedicated circuits installing to power these.

This also applies if you intend to fit a standalone electric cooker.

The usual solution is to install a 6mm cable feeding a 32A cooker circuit.

If you intend on having dual built in ovens and separate hobs, these can often require a circuit each. Again, as with the lighting it may seem a small detail but a bit of up front planning here will save you lots of headaches down the line.

Installing cooker circuits in pre-existing kitchens can sometimes be awkward around units and decor. This obviously means it is possible to achieve a much higher of standard of finish to simply install these circuits (if required) as part of the 1st fix stage.

Cooker circuits will require isolation switches to be fitted above the worktop. These usually take the form of a 45A switch, and can even have a socket built in. This can be handy to increase the number of available sockets within the kitchen area.

Even if you only intend to fit gas cooking appliances, these generally need a 13A socket in order to provide the ignition. This will also power the timers on board modern cookers.

A compromise can be to fit both a 13A socket, and also a proper electric cooker circuit. This ensures that you are not tied to one energy source or another, and could change easily at a later date.

If you want to future proof your kitchen electrical installation then having the option of both types of cooker can be a good idea.

Switches

Very often overlooked, switches can be a vitally important part of the installation. Their placement can affect both the look of the kitchen electrics, together with how easy they are to use.

By switches, we mean more than just light switches. Sockets that are hidden behind appliances must have an accessible isolation point. This can sometimes be a fused spur above the kitchen worktop.

Whilst this might look OK if you only need one, a long row of fused spurs feeding many items would look stupid.

A neat way to get around this is to use grid switches and a dedicated circuit. There is a picture of a grid switch below indicating what they look like.

The advantage of grid switches is that you can accommodate a large number of isolation switches in a relatively small space. Not only that, but grid switches are available with markings indicating what they control.

Whilst we glossed over light switches at the beginning of this section, they shouldn’t be ignored in your kitchen electrical installation.

Obvious things to consider are fitting chrome/decorative switches, but you should also think about their position. The kitchen 1st fix is an ideal time to relocate any light switches which may not be in the most ideal places.

Extractors/Cooker Hoods

Cooking fumes can be a nuisance in your kitchen. Not only that but they can cause dirt & grease to collect on the ceiling.

Kitchen extractor fans are the simplest solution to this problem. Much like an extractor in a bathroom, they simply suck the “dirty” air out and cause airflow throughout the room.

Kitchen extractors do tend to be less effective when the fan itself is mounted some distance from the cooker. This may be the only place an extractor fan can be fitted due to walls and possible outlets, for example.

A more effective option (if done correctly) is to use a “cooker hood”. There are many different styles of cooker hood available, and the electrical installation required is fairly simple.

The issue here is that many people fail to properly extract the fumes from a cooker hood. Their is an option with cooker hoods to recirculate the air, rather than extracting it outside.

Using the air recirculation option can work, however the carbon filters need to be replaced regularly to really make it effective. This adds cost and “ongoing maintenance” requirements to a kitchen, something most people don’t really consider.

Electric Heating

This really depends on what sort of heating the house already has. Most modern homes now have gas fired central heating and radiators throughout. These have the benefit of fast heat-up and being economical to run.

However if your home uses electric heating, you are going to need to fit an electric heater into your new kitchen too.

There are a variety of different heater styles available, which range from simple panel heaters to complex storage heating systems.

It might be possible to heat the room simply using electric plinth heaters. These blow warm air out around the base of the kitchen which then rises and warms the room.

Another option, if you are having tiled flooring in your kitchen is to have electric underfloor heating. This is economical and designed to be used fairly continuously. Think of it as background heating.

If you do intend on having electric underfloor heating then this can mean some careful planning is required. The surface of the floor needs to be level.
Imperfections can require rectifying with liquid screed before being suitable for the delicate electric underfloor heating mat.

Usually electric heating of any kind will need a dedicated circuit installing. This is why it is important to plan and consider at the start of your kitchen project.

During our previous kitchen electrical installations in Wakefield, we have come across a number of jobs where proper planning of circuits has paid dividends further down the line.

Who Should Complete My Kitchen Electrical Installation?

It is important that you use the right person to complete the kitchen electrical installation at your property.

Whilst many kitchen fitters seem to want to take on the task of rewiring and upgrading kitchen circuits, we recommend you employ the services of an electrician to complete this work for you.

Kitchen appliances are fairly high current and can have a considerable current draw when the oven, washing machine, dishwasher, tumble dryer, kettle and various other bits are all turned on at once!

This scenario is typical of many households on a weekend, Sunday dinner with the family.

The best advice here is to employ the services of your local electrician such that you can ensure the kitchen electrical installation is completed right first time.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but hiring a professional could end up saving you literally hundreds if you do something wrong and it has to be removed to rectify!

If you need any advice about Kitchen Electrical Installations, I'd be more than happy to assist

Kind regards
James - ElectricBlu Contractors

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