Installation Tips for Under Cabinet LED Lighting in Kitchen Remodeling
One of the major considerations when planning your kitchen remodel is the lights. You need to make sure you include the placement and type of overhead lighting at the very start so your remodeling contractor can include the work required for it in the quote.
One type of lighting is often an afterthought, however, and that is under cabinet lighting. While these are not essential to a standard kitchen, they can have a significant impact on the look and function of the kitchen.
The most popular type of under cabinet lighting is light emitting diode or LED lighting. This is because they are the most energy efficient type of lights, and they emit little or no heat, which is a good thing for under cabinet lighting.
Different types of LED lights are available for use under cabinets, and each one requires varying levels of difficulty and expertise in installation. Some will require the skills of a professional installer, while others can provide amateur DIYers with a fun and satisfying project.
A Note for DIYers
If you are an avid DIYer and you think under cabinet lighting is something you can do, you will have to take a good hard look at what you can actually do. Your level of skill and expertise in installing lights can have a major impact on a successful project involving under cabinet lighting.
For beginners, it might be less satisfying but more practical to choose battery-powered LED lights as these will not require any wiring or construction experience. Many of these lights are easy to mount, and you can put them anywhere.
You can also consider LED strip or rope lights that come complete with plugs, as these are easy to install. You just have to make sure you have a power outlet available in strategic locations. This is why it is important to include this in your kitchen remodeling plans even if you plan to
Below are installation tips for different types of under cabinet LED lighting you can use in kitchen remodeling.
Strip lights are generally popular for under cabinet lighting because they lay flat and are virtually invisible, and they give an even distribution of light. However, strip lights come in a wide variety of brightness, configurations, and color. What you choose will depend on your intended purpose and preferences.
Generally, you should choose bright, white LED strip lights if you are going to use it primarily as work lights. Under cabinet lights often shine directly on countertops, and they play a big role in making kitchen tasks go more smoothly.
However, the purpose of some under cabinet lights is for accent lighting, in which case you should choose a warmer or softer color of lower intensity. Fortunately, LED lights are dimmable, so you can actually control the intensity of your lights as needed. In addition, some LED lights come in several colors, which you can control by turning it on and off until you get the color you want. If this is something you might want, ask the store about color changing LED lights.
Once you have chosen the right LED strip, the next step is to install it. Before you do anything, however, check if the lights all work. The store should have done this for you. If this did not happen, or you are using strip lights you have had for some time, you will need a power supply appropriate to the voltage of your lights.
It is very easy to do this if you have some basic electrical wiring knowledge. The strips come in roles, and you just need to measure the cabinet and cut the right length of strip light. These often come with an adhesive backing or clips, so it just takes a few seconds to attach it under the cabinet.
The tricky part is attaching the dimmer to the strip, and the dimmer to the step down transformer, if needed. Strip lights can be 120V, 12V, or 24V. If they are normal or line voltage (120V), you will not need a transformer. However, if it is 12V or 24V, you need to convert the power from the standard outlet (normally 120V) to 12V or 24V.
If you are at all feeling overwhelmed by this, forget about doing the wiring yourself and call in someone who knows how to do it, preferably an electrician. Some stores have an in-house electrician that might be able to do it for you, so be ready with the measurements of your cabinets.
Once your strips are wired up properly, all you must do is stick or clip them on and plug them into the power outlet. If you prefer to hardwire your strip lights, make sure to include it in your kitchen remodeling plans or hire an electrician to do it for you.
Puck lights are small, round LED lights that provide focused lighting and typically hardwired. If you choose puck lights for under cabinet lighting, you want to space them between 8 and 12 inches apart. Make sure you include this in your remodeling plan as the electrician will have to provide for them.
Installing the puck lights can be easy or not so easy. Surface mounted ones are easiest, because you only have to screw the mounting cap to the underside of the cabinets where the wires are waiting. You need to attach the wires before mounting them, of course. Make sure the power to the wires is off before messing with the wires.
Recessed puck lights require making a hole in the cabinet to accommodate them. Some contractors put a false bottom to the cabinets to accommodate the puck light housing without making a hole in the cabinet bottom itself. In either case, it would be advisable to have your contractor prepare the wiring and holes for you if you insist on installing the lights yourself.
As a rule of thumb, you want to place strip and puck lights as close to the front of the cabinet as possible so they are less visible. This makes practical sense as well, as you avoid the glare of the lights from shining directly into your eyes.
Under cabinet lights are a small but important component of kitchen remodeling. These tips should help you with your kitchen design, or even DIY it after. It is all about planning for it ahead of time.
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I am a remodeling expert that loves to build beautiful homes. I write about our beautiful place in Fairfax and the homes that I have help over the years.