How to install low voltage lighting under a cabinet

Written by kristan hart
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In a kitchen, working under your kitchen cabinets could be difficult because there's not enough light. An easy way to fix that problem is to install low voltage lighting under a cabinet. Under-cabinet lighting can help eliminate shadows, creating enough light for you to work on your project.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Electrical socket
  • Radio
  • Drill
  • Keyhole saw
  • 4-inch-by-4-inch-by 2 1/8-inch junction box
  • 5 flex connectors
  • 1/2-inch flex cable
  • Tape measure
  • Electrical cabling
  • Staple gun
  • Staple
  • Fish tape
  • Under-cabinet light fixtures

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  1. 1

    Look under your cabinet. You should see a recessed area that's about 7/8 inch deep. Installing the light here allows you to hide the lighting fixture in this recessed area.

  2. 2

    Find an existing electrical socket to power your under-cabinet lighting. Check rooms that share a wall with the kitchen. You need access to an electrical socket on the backside of your kitchen cabinets. Plug a radio into the outlet you chose and turn the radio on.

  3. 3

    Shut off the circuit breaker to that outlet. Confirm there is no power to that outlet when the radio stops playing.

  4. 4

    Try to turn on different electrical items near the outlet to determine what items connect to that circuit breaker. Add up the wattage of those items, then add the wattage of the under-cabinet lights you plan to add. Your wattage should not exceed 1,920 watts for a 20-amp circuit and 1,440 watts for a 15-amp circuit.

  5. 5

    Cut a 12-inch hole in the back of the kitchen cabinet closest to the outlet you chose. Drill 1/2-inch starter holes, 12 inches apart, to make a square. Use a keyhole saw to cut in between the starter holes to create your hole. You should be able to access the back of the electrical socket from this hole in the kitchen cabinet.

  6. 6

    Drill a 4-inch-by-4-inch-by-2 1/8-inch junction box into the back of the kitchen cabinet above your hole. Insert five flex connectors on the junction box. Two flex connectors mount on the left side of the box, two on the right side of the box and one on the bottom of the box. Align your flex connectors so the screws point out.

  7. 7

    Drill 1 1/8-inch holes in the side of your kitchen cabinet. You will feed your 1/2-inch flex cable from your junction box through these holes to power each light location.

  8. 8

    Measure how much flex cable you need to run from the junction box to the under cabinet lighting. Use a hacksaw to cut your flex cable to the desired length.

  9. 9

    Run a cable from your electrical socket into the junction box. Strip 12 inches of sheathing off each end of the cable, and pull the cable from the electrical socket, through your flex connector and out your junction box. Staple the cable every 8 inches to keep it in place.

  10. 10

    Pull your electrical line through the flex cable. Leave plenty of extra slack in the line so you can easily run cabling up the walls and into the under-cabinet light fixtures. To run cabling up the walls, consider using fish tape, which helps you keep track of the wire while it's in the wall.

  11. 11

    Make a 1/2-inch hole under the wall cabinet and pull your electrical cable through the hole. Attach the cable to the lighting fixture with a cable clamp, then connect your under-cabinet wiring according to directions from the light fixture manufacturer. Secure the electrical line to the cabinet using a standard plastic staple. Use No. 4 sheet metal screws on each side of the staple to hold the line.

  12. 12

    Repeat for each under-cabinet light fixture. Install one low voltage light for every 30 inches of countertop space to avoid dark spots and shadows in your work area.

  13. 13

    Connect the new wires into your existing electrical socket. The new black (hot) wires connect to the existing black (hot) wires; the new white (neutral) wires connect to the existing white (neutral) wires and the bare ground wires connect to each other.

  14. 14

    Switch the "On/Off" switches on each light to turn them on and off as needed, or you can install a switch to operate them all at once.

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