A Complete Guide to Under Cabinet LED Lighting

Under cabinet lighting is one of the most overlooked but useful lighting solutions for your home. Overhead lighting is a great start, but it can leave your space feeling cold and unwelcoming. Undercabinet lights illuminate spaces that overhead lights can’t reach, like countertops and shelves.

When installed properly, under cabinet fixtures blend seamlessly into your space. You won’t even know they’re there. Although they are used primarily in kitchens, where additional light can benefit cooking preparation, under cabinet lights can be mounted to the underside of virtually any surface.

Under cabinet LED lighting offers a few advantages:

Flexible Installation Options

  • Plug-and-Play: Offers easy installation that’s ideal for DIYers. As the name suggests, these lights plug into wall sockets.
  • Hardwire: Requires professional installation. These units are powered by a separate 120V power feed from the wall.

Dimming Options

Many under cabinet light fixtures offer a dimmable function that gives you more control over the ambiance in the room.

Dim the lights to create a cozy atmosphere during gatherings, or brighten them to make cooking tasks a breeze.

Finding the right lighting system can be a challenge. There are two main things to consider: the type of lighting, and the color.

Types of LED Under Cabinet Lighting

Linear LED Fixtures

Traditional linear fixtures are the most popular option for LED under cabinet lighting. These bright fixtures do an excellent job of illuminating countertops, sinks, stoves and other areas of the kitchen overhead lights can’t reach.

One advantage of linear fixtures is that they deliver uniform light distribution. They come in a wide range of lengths, so they can accommodate kitchens large and small.

Light Bars

under cabin lighting for bars

Just as the name suggests, LED light bars are bars of light that can be installed under your cabinets for task lighting or ambiance. They’re ideal for illuminating kitchen countertops, and they come in a wide range of lengths to meet your needs.

Light bars have a slim profile, which makes them an excellent choice for areas with tight corners or underneath L-shaped cabinets. They’re also great for decorative lighting in display cabinetry and bookcases.

They are easy to keep clean, and unlike their fluorescent and halogen counterparts, LEDs don’t generate as much heat. Light bars can also be daisy chained, allowing you to easily link multiple bars together.

Puck Lights

The preferred choice of designers, puck lights offer a contemporary design, easy installation and a compact size. With a diameter of just 1-4,” puck lights can be installed underneath virtually any cabinet. But don’t let their small size fool you – they can emit quite a bit of light.

Depending on your personal preference, puck lights can be mounted to the surface of your cabinets or recessed.

Puck lights are like mini spotlights. They provide more direct, focused light to the work area. The effect can be quite dramatic, which may not be appealing to every homeowner. However, they do offer quite a few advantages, such as:

  • Less energy consumption compared to other under cabinet fixtures.
  • Lower purchase cost.
  • Battery operation (in some cases), which makes installation a breeze and eliminates messy wires.

Many puck lights are dimmer compatible, and they can easily be combined with other light fixtures for layered effects and dramatic lighting schemes.

Tape Lights

led tape lights for under cabinets

Also known as strip systems, LED tape lights are ideal for drawing attention to certain areas or objects in the room. They’re also ideal for illuminating hard-to-reach areas, like drawers and deep cabinets.

The beauty of tape lights is that they are incredibly versatile. The come in reels, and their flexible nature makes it easy to use them in areas with tight corners. They can be mounted to the underside of virtually any surface, and they can even be cut to a custom length to meet your unique needs. You can connect multiple reels together for longer lengths, and you can find LED tape lights with dimmable functions.

Choosing the Right Color

LED lights come in a wide range of colors. In fact, you can find LED tape lights that change colors to create a unique ambiance.

If you’re going with traditional lighting, color temperature is an important thing to consider.

Color Temperature

The color temperature will have a direct effect on the look and feel of your space. But depending on where you’re installing the lights, it can also impact your perception of colors.

Color temperature is measured in Kelvin, and there are three common ranges:

  • Warm light: 2700K-3000K
  • Cool white: 3000K-5000K
  • Daylight: 5000K-6500K
led light color temperatures

For kitchen lighting, a temperature between 3000K and 4000K is ideal. Anything below 3000K will give off a warm glow that may be cozy, but it will alter your color perception, which isn’t ideal when preparing food.

Lighting above 4000K isn’t necessary for a home kitchen and may clash with the other warmer lighting in your home.

Summary

Under cabinet LED lighting allows you to illuminate hard-to-reach areas, like kitchen countertops and decorative shelves. Installation is flexible, and you have multiple fixture options to meet your budget and personal preferences.