Under Cabinet Lighting Options

under cabinet lighting options

Under cabinet lighting options

If you are considering under cabinet lighting options, then you are on your way to a significant improvement in the overall look and feel of your kitchen. Under cabinet lighting will bring that added element and special touch that can really make a difference.

There are quite a few under cabinet lighting options available depending upon your budget and overall goals for your kitchen lighting project. I will take you through what your options are today so you can make the best decision for you and your kitchen.

If you already know what type you are looking for, then click to see which under cabinet lights I recommend.

What to Look for in Under Cabinet Lighting Options

Before you start looking at under cabinet lighting fixtures, you need to figure out the following:

  • Lumens and Brightness – Brightness is measured in lumens today. For under cabinet lighting, you should look for fixtures that produce at least 250 lumens per foot. Therefore, if your fixture is 24 inches long, you want it to produce at least 500 lumens. This should provide enough light across your counters. If you are installing puck lights, gauge the spacing of your pucks and consider how many lumens each one gives off, so you can decide which ones to buy or how far apart to space them.
  • Color Temperature Options – I recommend selecting a fixture that has multiple kelvin color temperature However, if you decide on a fixture that has just one temperature, then make sure you select the right one to match the color scheme of your kitchen. If you are unsure and need to make a decision, then go with a temperature of 3000k.
  • Dimmable Under Cabinet Lighting – If possible, select an under cabinet lighting fixture that is dimmable. If your fixture cannot be dimmed, then control them with a dimmer switch. Read about how to buy a dimmer to make sure you are getting one that is compatible.
  • Installation Difficulty – If you are installing the fixtures yourself, then make sure you study the installation instructions before making a final decision. Some will require quite a bit of hard wiring, some will have a transformer and others will just be as easy as peeling off the backing to a sticker and placing it under the cabinet. I will not make the decision for you but I will say that the more difficult the installation process, the better the outcome.
  • Energy efficiency – All of your under cabinet lighting options will vary in their energy efficiency. The ther thing to consider is that some bulb types also burn much hotter which will create added heat in your kitchen. Let me make this easy for you. Go with an LED fixture and don’t consider anything else.

You will have to weigh all of these options before you make your decision. My selection from the under cabinet lighting options below will be the hard wired LED under cabinet lights. They hit the mark and rank highest on all of the characteristics above with the exception of installation difficulty.

Although they are more difficult to install, the end result is absolutely worth it. Nothing good comes easily.

Hard Wired LED Under Cabinet Lighting Options

Using hard wired fixtures is my personal preference for under cabinet lighting. These are called LED fixtures or LED light bars. They will provide the best lighting, will be the most efficient and will last the longest. The installation is also a bit more involved.

Some fixtures will require you to run the electrical wire directly to each fixture. Other fixtures have a plug attached to them which means you will need a hidden outlet near each of them to plug into. Within the hard wired under cabinet lighting category, you have two types:

  • 120 Volt – This will use a standard electrical wire (likely 14 gauge) like you will find powering other lights.
  • Low voltage (12 volt) – This will require you to plug a hidden transformer into an outlet. This transformer changes the power from 120 volt to 12 volt. From there, you will run the low voltage wires to your fixtures.

These are the pros and cons when it comes to hard wired under cabinet lighting options:

Pros

  • Provide the best lighting and most lumens
  • Some have multiple settings
  • Some have multiple color temperature options
  • Can be hard wired or plugged in
  • Can be dimmed and may come with a built-in dimmer
  • Long lasting
  • Operate cooler than the others

Cons

  • These tend to cost a little more than other options
  • Installation with the wiring will take longer

The GetInLight LED 3 color LED under cabinet lighting option on Amazon is my personal choice.  It comes in 7 sizes, a few different colors and it is dimmable. After two full months of research, I decided to use these in my kitchen. They also make a newer version that swivels. Check the price on Amazon.

how to choose under cabinet lighting

Wireless LED Under Cabinet Light Bars

Wireless Led light bar under cabinet lighting options are fairly common and are probably a second best option if you are not going to use a hard wired fixture. These are easy to install and usually have the option to use an adhesive backing or a screw to fasten to the underside of the cabinets.

Some of these will come with a remote control and the ability to change the light color. Something to take into consideration is the fact that they will eat quite a few batteries. If you plan to use your under cabinet lights a few hours per day, then you should consider hard wired simply due to the cost of the batteries over time.

The primary reason why I am rating these as my second choice is simply because they are linear and will provide an even light distribution across the bottom of your cabinets.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Even light distribution with no shadows
  • May be available with a remote control
  • May be available in multiple color temperatures
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Will be limited in how bright it can get
  • Will use a lot of batteries over time.
  • You may need to turn them on individually

My recommended wireless LED light bar is the Lofter Under Cabinet Motion Sensor model on Amazon. It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery which means you will not spend more money replacing batteries. They have a motion sensor which can be disabled if needed. They are bright enough at 230 lumens each. The one thing I would change about these is the kelvin temperature because these are very white.

You get everything that you see in the photo below. The double-sided tape for easy installation and the USB wire is for recharging.

Under Cabinet Puck Lights

Under cabinet puck lights are extremely popular for budget under cabinet lighting installations. They are essentially peel and stick although some have the option to attach with a screw. You can purchase them with a remote control and in some instances can change the colors.

Some puck light come as battery operated and wireless and then there are also wired versions. In my opinion, if you are going through the process of running wires, then you should just spend the additional money on the better LED hard wired fixtures because they will provide you with much better results. If you really want puck lights with the ease of installation, then just get the battery operated version.

Pros

  • Puck lights are extremely easy to install
  • May be available with a remote control
  • May be available in multiple color temperatures
  • These are the most inexpensive under cabinet lights
  • Easy to replace if needed

Cons

  • Will be limited in how bright it can get
  • Will use a lot of batteries over time.
  • You may need to turn them on individually

I see even high end kitchens with puck lights under the cabinets. What I do not like is when they are spaced too far apart and there are areas of brightness and darkness. If you are going to use puck lights, then space them closer together so you get more of an even light distribution down onto your counters.

If you are considering purchasing puck lights, then I recommend the Brilliant Evolution Wireless LED Puck Lights on Amazon. They come with a dimmer and take AAA batteries. They also come with a timer so they will turn off to save power. Finally, they are coming in with 3000k temperature which is what I prefer for under the cabinets.

LED Strip lights or Tape lights

The LED strip lights or tape lights are used all around the home and not just under the cabinets. They come in a roll and are versatile. You can cut them to the length that you need and they may also be controlled by a remote with the ability to change colors.

The colors that typically come with the strip or tape lights are not the kelvin temperature colors that we usually speak about. You will likely get multi colors like you will find on your Christmas tree. One word of caution is you may see the dotted reflection of these lights off of your counter tops.

Pros

  • Less expensive than LED fixtures
  • Last a long time
  • If installed properly, there are no dark spots
  • Peel and stick installation
  • Can he easily hidden from view

Cons

  • Need to install a wire and plug in. Possibly a transformer
  • You may see the dotted lights reflecting off of your counters

LED strip or tape lights need to be installed with a wire and a DC power supply since they are low voltage. Below, I will link to my preferred brand and model because they come in 3000k temperature.

Click to read about them and to see my other recommended Under Cabinet Lights

Which Under Cabinet Lighting Options Not to Buy

It is not often that I will talk about things that I absolutely do not recommend. However, in this case I need to speak my mind. I do not recommend the following:

  • Fluorescent Under Cabinet Lights – This is yesterday’s technology and the installation and cost is similar to LED. When you consider that LED fixtures are so much better, provide better light and are more efficient (and cooler), then there is absolutely no reason at all to buy fluorescent under cabinet lighting.
  • Xenon Under Cabinet Lights – This is also yesterday’s technology. They are a form of incandescent light and although more efficient than a traditional incandescent bulb, they are hotter than LED.
  • Halogen Under Cabinet Lights – These are also a form of fluorescent light that is more energy efficient than a regular light bulb. However, they are so hot that you can probably keep food warm beneath them. There is no reason at all to buy halogen under cabinet lights

 This should provide you with everything you needed to decide which under cabinet lighting options are right for you. If you have any questions, please ask below and I will respond ASAP.

Questions Related to Under Cabinet Lighting Options

Which undercabinet lights are easiest to install?
Wireless Puck lights are the easiest under cabinet lights to install. They can be installed with a peel and stick double sided tape or just two screws. Remember there is a balance between installation difficulty and the quality of the light you will get.

Which under cabinet lighting options look the best?
Hard wired LED under cabinet lighting fixtures will look and perform the best. They will be the most costly, but in the end will be your best under cabinet lighting option.

Which under cabinet lighting is Energy Efficient?
The most energy efficient under cabinet lights are the LED hard wired under cabinet lights. However, tests may reveal that the rechargeable lithium battery operated LED fixtures may be more energy efficient.

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