Installing under cabinet lighting in your kitchen has many benefits. Under cabinet lighting uses low-voltage bulbs to make tasks easier and safer by delivering directed light to a specific area. Under cabinet lighting can provide two functions in your kitchen. It can provide task lighting for countertop food preparation and accent lighting to highlight your countertops and backsplash. Although under cabinet is also useful in workshops, garages, and basements, here we will focus on the kitchen.
Benefits of Under Cabinet Kitchen Lighting
1) Energy efficient – Can save energy by eliminating the need to light up an entire room.
2) Variety of bulbs – Energy efficient lights bulbs are most often used for under-the-cabinet lighting fixtures. Common under cabinet light bulbs include fluorescent, halogen, LED, and xenon bulbs.
3) Eliminate shadows – Under cabinet lighting reduces the shadows created by wall cabinets and overhead ceiling lighting. Proper spacing of under cabinet lighting eliminates the dark shadows under your countertops. To eliminate shadows, install one light for every 20-30 inches of counter space.
4) Add unique style and distinction to your kitchen – Many kitchen countertops are made from granite or marble. A kitchen under cabinet light can make your stone countertops shine.
5) Simple installation – Many DIYers can install under cabinet lighting in just a few hours.
Types of Under Cabinet Lighting: Strip Lights, Puck Lights, Linear Lights
Strip Lights: These are rectangular shaped fixtures and they work well with fluorescent bulbs. They are great for providing diffused light to the kitchen.
Puck Lights: These are round fixtures that got their name from their round, hockey puck- like size and appearance. These lights are best for highlighting countertops and backsplashes. Puck lights work with LED, halogen and xenon bulbs. Puck lights can be mounted in different positions to either aim downward or at the backsplash. As an alternative, puck lights can usually be recessed into cabinets.
Linear lights: Linear lights are often used with fluorescent bulbs. They are the most popular types of fluorescent under cabinet kitchen lighting because they are thin, which allow them to be concealed behind the cabinet trim.
Types of Bulbs Used: Fluorescent, Halogen, Incandescent, LED and Xenon.
Fluorescent bulbs – These are commonly used for under cabinet lighting fixtures. They create a bright work area by providing clear light. The disadvantage of fluorescent lights is that they cannot be dimmed and they sometimes flicker.
Halogen bulbs – Homeowners seeking a bright, white light choose halogen bulbs. The light emitted from a halogen bulb is warm and bright and provides a nice amount of light from under the cabinet. These bulbs have an extremely long life, lasting up to 2,000 hours.
Incandescent bulbs – These bulbs are the least popular under cabinet bulb type as their light is not very bright. Incandescent bulbs are not energy efficient and they emit heat. They last half as long as halogen bulbs.
LED bulbs – These bulbs are becoming a more popular choice among homeowners as they become more commonly available at lighting and home improvement stores. LED bulbs are available in different colors they and provide homeowners with the ability to create unique decorative features. LED bulbs are best for puck lighting.
Xenon bulbs – These bulbs have the longest lifespan of all under cabinet light bulb options. They can last up to 10,000 hours. They are energy efficient as they do not create heat.
Tips for Successful Under Cabinet Lighting
o One 12-inch lighting fixture or 3-puck light fixture should be installed for every 4 ft. of countertop.
o Install the lights toward the front of the cabinet so that they will highlight the surface best.
Marcy Tate is a home improvement writer with over a decade of experience in the electric field.