How to Measure For Under Cabinet Lighting

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor

How to Measure for Under Cabinet Lighting

how to measure for under cabinet lighting

The addition of under cabinet lighting is a great way to upgrade your kitchen and give it that high end look. It is one of those DIY lighting projects that homeowners can do themselves.

How to Measure for Under Cabinet Lighting

Measuring for under cabinet lighting is a critical early step in your under cabinet lighting installation project. Plan on putting the largest fixture that will fit beneath your cabinet while taking wiring into consideration. There are a few variables which will help you to understand how to measure properly.

Steps on How to Measure for Under Cabinet Lighting

  1. Decide what type of under cabinet lighting is best for you
  2. Determine whether you are using inter connecting under cabinet lighting
  3. Identify which cabinets you want to have under cabinet lights
  4. Understand How Your Lighting Gets Installed
  5. Measure for Under Cabinet Lighting

Decide What Type of Under Cabinet Lighting is Best for You

The type of under cabinet lighting will matter when it comes to how you measure for them. When I say type, I am referring to whether you are looking at:

  • Light fixtures
  • LED Tape Light
  • Pucks

Regardless as to which you choose, the goal will be to have light evenly distributed down from the entire length of the cabinet. So, you want a fixture that will cover the entire span and you want your tape light to go from one end to the other. If you are using pucks, you need to space them apart in a way where it does not look like you are using pucks.  Below is an example of a poorly designed under cabinet lighting project. You can see how there are bright and dark spots.

bad under cabinet lighting

Poorly Designed Under Cabinet Lighting Layout

Determine Whether You Are Using Inter Connecting Under Cabinet Lighting

Some of the under cabinet light fixture options can be strung together with an inter connecting cable. This helps so that you do not have to run power to each of the lights. These wires typically plug in from the side which means you need to leave room on both sides for the wire to come in and then go out to the next fixture.

If you plan to use these inter connecting cables, then I recommend that you purchase an under cabinet light fixture that is 7 inches shorter than the width of the cabinet. This will leave you enough room to bring the wire into both sides of the fixture and is a critical step to consider when learning how to measure for under cabinet lighting.

Understand How Your Lighting Gets Installed

Before you can do any measuring, you need to understand how the fixture you are buying gets installed. This touches on the wiring comment that I made earlier. You need to know where you are running the wires and whether you will have room to do it based upon the fixture that you select. Therefore, read up on the fixture ahead of time. Visit the manufacturer website or watch a video on how that particular fixture gets installed. Also, read about under cabinet lighting placement location and how to hide under cabinet lighting wires.

Identify Which Cabinets You Want to Have Under Cabinet Lights

Do you want every cabinet in your kitchen to have under cabinet lights? In my opinion, they should all be lit. However, there are some kitchens that have a cabinet across the other side of the kitchen that is used for a different purpose. It may not make sense to have the bottom of that cabinet lit if you do not want to bring any focus or attention to that area.

If you are measuring for under cabinet lights, then you should plan to put lights beneath all of the cabinets. Leaving some out simply to save money is a really bad idea. You are better off not installing any under cabinet lights if you are not going to do the full job correctly.

How to Measure for Under Cabinet Lighting – Do it Now

The theory behind adding under cabinet lighting is that you want the entire bottom of every cabinet to be lit. Plan on putting the largest fixture that will fit beneath your cabinet while taking wiring into consideration. This does not mean that if you have a 36” wide cabinet that you buy a 36” under cabinet light fixture. You can see in the image below, the under side will have a space that is not quite as wide as your total cabinet width.

If you are installing LED tape lights, then you can buy a roll and cut it to fit the size you need based upon the needs of each cabinet. The measuring that you really have to do here is the total length of all of your cabinets. This will help you do understand how much total tape light that you need to buy.

If you are installing puck lights, then consider what I said earlier about spacing them so that you have complete light coverage without any bright and dark spots. The goal with under cabinet puck lights is to make them look like you are not using puck lights. I hope that makes sense.


Related Questions

Is it hard to install under cabinet lighting?
It is not too hard to install under cabinet lighting. However, it is much easier if you are installing them during a kitchen remodel than if you are adding them later. Installing under cabinet lighting is a great DIY project for most homeowners.

Which is the best under cabinet lighting?
There is no “best” under cabinet lighting because every kitchen and ever situation is different. However there will be some that make the most sense for you. We have outlined what we believe to be our top choices and suggest that you start there when making your decision.

When should I measure for under cabinet lighting?
You should measure after you have decided which fixture you want and have reviewed its installation instructions. After you mentally plan out your installation and fully understand what is required, then you measure for under cabinet lighting.

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