Choosing Under Cabinet Lighting: What You Need to Know

under cabinet lighting

If you’re looking to add beauty and function that compliments your new kitchen countertops, look no further than under cabinet lighting.

Not only does this type of light fixture add essential task lighting over your work surfaces, it also adds ambiance and style to your kitchen. Especially for eat-in kitchens, well-styled under cabinet lighting can add a beautiful aesthetic to dining in.

Wanting to kick your kitchen styling up a notch, but not sure where to begin? Read on to find out everything you need to know about under cabinet lights, so you can make an informed decision.

Why Choose Under Cabinet Lighting?

Anyone who enjoys cooking knows that lighting makes all the difference in meal preparation. Task lighting, installed right where you need it, ensures you can see all aspects of meal prep.

Custom lighting also helps balance the light in your space to create a more welcoming feeling. If you’re low on natural light, feature lighting can bring in a warm glow and help your space feel larger. Use lighting for utility and to make your beautiful counter tops and back splash sparkle.

Make the kitchen your focal point for entertaining in your home by adding style and ambiance. These great light fixtures can double as night lighting when installed with a dimmer.

Types of Light Sources

The type of bulbs you buy can vary based on your taste, space requirements, and energy preferences. While there are many types of bulbs to choose from, some are better suited than others.

LED Lighting

LED bulbs are the most energy efficient, offering 50,000 hours before they need replacement. These bulbs are also cool to the touch, which is perfect for spaces above food prep. A kitchen is already prone to temperature fluctuations, so keeping with light that doesn’t generate additional heat is always a good choice.

LEDs have the option of dimmer switches, which can be great for light sensitivity or for creating ambiance in your kitchen. Adjust the lights brighter for food prep, and then turn them down low if you’re enjoying dinner and a glass of wine.

The superior choice for energy efficiency, LED lighting can cost more at first but add up to big savings over time. If you are looking for an environmentally conscious and stylish option, LED lights are the choice for you.

Fluorescent Bulbs

While the word fluorescent may channel memories of primary school, today’s version is more advanced. Gone are the noisy, flickering bulbs that take forever to reach full brightness after activation. Choosing fluorescent bulbs means consistent, energy-efficient lighting at a lower price than LED.

These are usually long strip lights, which give off the perfect illumination while being low profile. Compact fluorescents are also available in a puck shape, if you prefer. Not all fluorescent lights are able to be dimmed, so check the label before purchasing.

Incandescent Bulbs

While there are different types of incandescent bulbs, they are less optimal than the alternatives. If you prefer the warm glow of an incandescent bulb, Xenon is the more efficient and puts off the least radiant heat. Xenon is also dimmable, unlike halogen lighting.

Halogen is perhaps the least suited for countertop lighting other than traditional incandescents, as it gives off the most heat and has the shortest life. They also tend to produce more glare, which means you may have to filter them with a fixture lens.

Lighting Installation

To ensure a proper fit in your kitchen, you must consider how your lights will need to be installed. Many styles of lights can simply be mounted to the underside of your cabinets, while other styles need to be recessed.

You also have to decide how you will power your lights, through a hard-wired method or simply by plugging into an available outlet. Battery powered is an option for some lighting as well.

Recessed or Surface Mounted?

Surface mounted lights are by far the easier and less invasive choice, as they don’t involve cutting material away from your existing cabinets. Mounted lighting is most often available in strip or rope light varieties, though some low-profile circular lights are also on the market. These lights should be installed close to the front face of the cabinet, so they are less visible and provide the best light dispersion over your work area.

If installing recessed lighting, you will have to plan out where to miter holes into your cabinet as well as how you will run the wiring. This lighting gives a sleeker look.

Both types of lighting provide either consistent illumination or targeted lighting, depending on if you use strips or pucks. If using pucks, make sure to center your lighting choices over the areas that are used mostly for food preparation.

Wiring Choices

The simplest method is to choose lights that plug directly into an outlet. These can be easily removed, changed, or relocated.

If you prefer to install a wall switch, you may need an electrician to wire your lighting into your home. This method can conceal wiring completely but will be more costly to install.

If you’re looking for the most DIY option for under cabinet lighting, the faster and less expensive method is to choose surface mounted strip lights that plug into an outlet. Most strip lights come with an adhesive backing and weigh very little. You can use brackets to mount these fixtures to your cabinets, which would be necessary with puck lights regardless.

Alternatively, you could opt for battery-powered lighting. The downsides of these lights are that you may have to switch on multiple lights to illuminate them all, and your dimming options may be limited.

LED lights are perfect for battery-powered options, as they draw little energy and can run a long time on a single set.

Unify and Illuminate Your Kitchen

Few kitchen renovations can have as much immediate impact on the aesthetics and utility of your kitchen as under cabinet lighting installation. Tying your space together with specialty lighting not only makes working in your kitchen a pleasure but also makes a kitchen the heart of your home.

If you want to bring new life to your kitchen space, consider complimenting your beautiful new lighting project with a granite or quartz countertop. Under cabinet lights bring a special glowing quality to the natural stone that is unparalleled.

Contact us for a quote to get started on your kitchen upgrade today!