How to choose under cabinet lighting

Written by shelley frost
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Under-cabinet lighting casts a pleasing glow in the kitchen. It also adds task lighting where you need it most. Mounting lights under the cabinet reduces the chances of shadows interfering with the light source. The continuous source of light allows you to easily prepare meals, decorate pasties and handle other kitchen tasks. There are several options for under cabinet light sources. Narrow down the lighting options based on your specific needs and kitchen layout.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of the cabinets. This helps plan the under-cabinet lighting and allows you to estimate the materials needed.

  2. 2

    Decide if you want plug-in lights or hard-wired models for your under-cabinet lighting. Unless you have some electrical experience, hard-wiring will likely require an electrician for installation. Evaluate your skills honestly before deciding whether or not to hire an electrician. Incorrectly wired lights can cause safety hazards.

  3. 3

    Choose a style of under cabinet light fixture. Common options include puck lights, linear lights and strip lights. Puck lights are small, round lights; linear lights use a flexible track with small lights spaced along it; and strip lights are rectangular units. You can also use a string of white holiday lights hidden by the cabinet's trim for an inexpensive option.

  4. 4

    Select the type of light bulb you prefer. Fluorescent lights are common but don't show all colours accurately. Halogen lights offer bright light and true colours but get very hot. Xenon lights are similar to halogen lights, but they don't get as hot. LED lights are used in some under-cabinet lighting but might cost more and produce concentrated beams of light instead of general task lighting.

  5. 5

    Decide how many under-cabinet light fixtures you need. Consider the overall lighting of the room and the desired look for the under-cabinet lighting. In general, you'll want at least one 12-inch light fixture or three puck lights in the space of 4 feet. Add more lights if you want a brighter result.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your target price range in mind as you shop for under-cabinet lighting. Don't forget to figure in the cost of an electrician if necessary.

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