Lighting is one of the most important aspects when designing your kitchen. You need to see what you’re doing while cutting up vegetables or prepping your meals, and adding under cabinet lighting helps define your style while increasing the functionality of your kitchen space.
Most people focus on overhead light, but lighting under your kitchen cabinets creates work space light and helps highlight features you like the most in your kitchen.
However, don’t limit cabinet lighting to only your kitchen!
If you have installed cabinets, you can have a cabinet light fixture. It may be your bathrooms, basement bar, dining room, or anywhere. Be creative!
When we did our kitchen remodel, we didn’t add lighting fixtures underneath the cabinets because we just didn’t think that we needed it at the time. After the remodel was finished, I realized that I wanted it.
Nowadays, that was a simple fix! I didn’t need to hire an electrician or run wires to an outlet. I used self-sticking, remote controlled under cabinet lighting and I’m very pleased!
Why You Need Under Cabinet Lighting
Adding cabinet lights to your kitchen is work, but the results are worth it. There are several reasons you might consider these additions when focusing on your home renovation project.
1. Easier to See When Cooking
Extra lighting makes it easier to see what you are doing when you’re cooking or working in your kitchen. This is great during food preparation or stirring dishes on the stove.
2. Illuminates Areas in Your Room
One of the best reasons to add under cabinet lighting is that adds illumination and complements your main overhead lighting. It gives you a way to focus on different spaces and highlighting features you love, such as your unique backsplash.
3. Eliminates Shadows
Shadows are no fun, and when they’re in your kitchen, it may make it hard to work in specific areas. Cabinet light fixtures will eliminate shadows, so you have adequate illumination everywhere.
4. Adds to the Design
Of course, unique lighting will change the design and feel of the space. Some lighting will create a warmer feeling, while others make the area feel more contemporary or modern. These simple changes often make some of the biggest differences.
Different Types of Under Cabinet Lighting
One of the most popular picks for under cabinet lights is LED – light-emitting diode – lighting. Years ago, LED was quite expensive, so people avoided using them. Nowadays, LED lighting is more affordable than ever, but still the most expensive out of the four options.
So, why would you pay more for LED lighting?
LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan than other types of lighting. Their lifespan is often double or triple the other options, and they produce less heat, which is a big deal when picking kitchen lighting.
Halogen lights use a gas compound created with halogen vapor inside of the light bulb. The compound reacts to the white light that goes through the filament.
This type of lighting uses less energy than traditional bulbs. They are considered a mid-range choice, offering good lighting at an average cost that won’t break the bank.
However, there are some downsides to halogen lighting.
These light bulbs get quite hot, so you have to make sure they are placed somewhere no little kids will touch them.
Another popular type of light is compact fluorescent lighting. CFL is energy efficient and produces less heat, but the lights are often harsh with some buzzing noises you might find unappealing and annoying.
Another downside to fluorescent lights is that they cannot be used with a dimmer function, and repeatedly turning them on and of shorten their lifespan.
Typically, you won’t see CFL lighting in a kitchen.
The last type of lights for under the cabinets is xenon lighting, which gives off a clear, white light without the use of a filament. The means they’re much cooler to the touch, and xenon bulbs are efficient, lasting two to three times longer than the average bulb.
They’re fairly affordable as well. The only downside is that they aren’t as bright as LED lights!
How to Pick the Best Under Cabinet Lighting
When you start researching lights for under kitchen cabinets, you’ll quick realize there are a ton of options. I know I struggled during my home renovation to pick the lighting I wanted.
The first thing you should consider is the voltage of the lights. Typically, cabinet lighting comes in three types: line-voltage (120V), low voltage (12v or 24v), and battery lighting. Each has pros and cons.
- Line-Voltage Lighting: This type of voltage is wired into your home’s electrical system. In general, line voltage leads to more heat production, so that’s something to consider when picking kitchen lighting.
- Low-Voltage Lighting: You can wire low voltage lighting into your house, but typically, most homeowners just simply plug these into a near-by electrical outlet – an easy power source. That makes them much easier to install.
- Battery Powered Lighting: You don’t have to use your wiring system or power outlet for these under cabinet lights. These lights range from 1.5 volt to 10 volt. Higher voltages new more batteries, but they also create a bright light.
Styles of the Lights
The next thing to consider is the style you want. You’ll find under cabinet lighting comes in three main styles: strips, pucks, and bars.
- Strip Lights: Strip lights are rolls that have adhesive backing, so they stick to whatever surface you want. Some also come with screws so you can securely attach them if you want.
Homeowners love strip lights because they’re versatile, but they tend to be more fragile. So, if you’re worried that they could be hit with something – like flying food – these could be a bad pick.
- Puck Lights: These lights are shaped like a hockey puck and illuminate specific spots or create pools of light rather than a big beam. Cabinet puck lights are great for accent lighting, but they aren’t ideal for task lighting.
Most puck lights are battery-powered and stick to whatever surface you want like the underside of cabinets. They are most often low voltage, but sometimes, you can find line voltage puck lighting.
- Bar Lights: The most common type of under cabinet lighting is bar lights. They’re sturdy, so if you accidentally hit them, they’ll be fine.
Bar lights are both low voltage or line voltage, and they come in a wide range of lengths to fit the space you need.
Everyone loves dimmable lights! Sometimes, fixed brightness doesn’t fit the moment.
I like to dim the lights in the evening rather than having the super bright lights throughout my house. You can leave the lights dimmed for the late-night snack runs.
Dimming also helps reduce energy consumption and saves money on your electric bill. However, this is simply a matter of personal preference; some don’t like dimmable lights!
Something else you always want to think about is energy efficiency.
LED fixtures tends to be the most energy efficient and saves you money on your electric bills, but they aren’t the only option. Xenon lights are energy efficient and give rooms a nice warm glow, creating a cozy ambiance.
Ease of Installation
Something else you really need to consider is the ease of installation. Some lighting options are easy to install, but others require the professional help to get it done properly.
The hardest type of lighting to install is line-voltage lighting because the wiring must connect into your electrical system. Generally, this is something that a very experienced DIYer could handle, but most people will turn to a professional electrician.
Low-voltage lighting is in the middle of the road. Many people use the adhesive backing and some mounting screws, and simply opt to plug them in. However, you can have them directly wired into your electrical system by a professional.
The easiest option to install is battery-powered lighting. These come with mounting screws, backing adhesive, or a magnetic strip. You can move them wherever and replace the batteries as well – no wiring required. They even have remotes supplied so you can turn them all on at once.
The 7 Best Under Cabinet Lighting Options
Litever offers a lighting system with 2000 lumens of brightness, which is a great amount for most kitchen tasks. These bulbs have uniform brightness across the entire area, and it’s a warm, white light rather than super bright white.
Litever allows you to install this lighting with sticky backing adhesive or affixed screws. You also can dim the lights from 0 to 100%, along with an on/off switch.
Even though this is a low-voltage system at only 12 volts, it has two different power cables. You can run it from a wall outlet or wire it directly into your electrical system. This gives you versatility depending on how you want to use this lighting system.
However, some have noted that the dimmer switch isn’t so easy to use, and the instructional manual lacks in solid descriptions.
- Lumens: 2000
- Volts: 12v
- Power: AC Adapter or Hardwired
Lightkiwi is an under cabinet LED lighting system that comes with four light bars. Each bar is 800 lumens that can be installed with backing adhesives or screws.
This system is a 24 volt low-voltage system that you can plug into a power outlet. It also comes with a dimmer switch that lets you control the brightness of the lights. Another nice feature is that the dimmer switch has a memory function that sets it back to the previous brightness level you picked.
There are some things to consider when picking the Lightkiwi LED lighting.
First, the dimmer and power switches are on the same unit, so they have to be placed near your AC adapter. That limits how you can customize how you set up the light bars. Also, some reviews say that the dimmer switch doesn’t always dim all the way.
- Lumens: 800 per bar
- Volts: 24v
- Power: AC Adapter
Another affordable option for under cabinet lighting is the Wobane LED Lighting System. It’s an LED strip lighting with 1100 lumens of brightness. You can install it easily with strong adhesive backing in just seconds.
Tape lights are quite versatile and a great way to add extra lighting without too much of a hassle on your end!
Wobane is a 12volt, low-voltage system that plugs right into your power outlet. The strip light is thin, so it’s easy to tuck underneath of your cabinets. The flexibility makes for easy installation, even around corners and curves.
The only main drawback to the Wobane Lights is that they aren’t dimmable and only have an on/off switch. However, the light is quite warm, so it creates the perfect atmosphere.
- Lumens: 1100
- Volts: 12v
- Power: Wall Outlet
If you want a good bang for the buck lighting system, look at the Lighting EVER LED Lights. This is an affordable option that comes six with puck lights an an eight-foot cord that connects to the main terminal.
This is a 12 volt low-voltage puck lighting system that you can attach with backing adhesive or screws, and it all plugs into the wall outlet. Since these pucks are lightweight, they stick well with adhesives.
Another nice feature of the Lighting EVER Pucks is that they have a touch-dimming system with five different brightness levels. Each light has a 500 lumen output, which is too low for task lighting when installed individually.
The only downside is that the lights need to be paired for better task lighting, and the tap dimming control is a bit finicky to figure out. Also, hiding all the cords can be hard.
- Lumens: 500 per puck
- Volts: 12v
- Power: Wall Outlet
If you’re looking for another battery powered LED cabinet lights, consider the Brilliant Evolution, a wireless light with plenty of bright task lighting for your work area. The light might look small, but these lights are 2 inches wide and 8.5 inches long.
You’ll find all the places to put these wireless lights!
Brilliant Evolution comes with strong adhesive strips, so it always stays in place, but it does come with screws for extra security.
Each strip is 65 lumens, and the kit comes with four LED lights that provide all the warm light you need to brighten up your kitchen. These lights run on three AA batteries – regular and rechargeables. The battery life is around 1000 hours.
However, these lights aren’t ideal for ambient lighting, and some mention in reviews that the adhesive isn’t as strong as needed.
- Lumens: 65
- Volts: 4.5v
- Power: Battery-Powered
If you’re looking for an affordable hardwired tasking light option, take a look at Hardwired LED. This is a 120-volt line-voltage LED bar lighting system that is great if you want to connect to your electrical system.
Hardwired offers five different bar lights from 12 to 36 inches long. So, you can find the right set up for your kitchen. The minimal design works for those who like sleek lines with a uniform look.
Another nice feature is that the bar lights are compatible with dimmers, but the switch isn’t included. Overall, the system offers 1250 lumens, but remember that is spread out over the bars.
- Lumens: 1250
- Volts: 120v
- Power: Hardwired
The last pick for the best under cabinet lighting is the GE Enbrighten LED Fixture with light color selection. It’s a hardwire cabinet light with a great glow, and you never have to worry about batteries.
The lights come in two lengths: 12 and 24 inch. So, buy the one that works best for your space. These are long-lasting, LED bulbs that last up to 50,000 hours – SERIOUSLY – with 1105 lumens.
This light lets you pick three different light temperatures – warm white, cool white, and daylight. SO, you can pick the right mood for that time of day or situation.
There are two main downsides. First, a professional will need to direct wire these into your home. Then, only two length options make it difficult to find the right way to set up the lights in your kitchen space.
- Lumens: 1105
- Volts: 120v
- Power: Hardwired
Create your dream kitchen space with all the illumination needed by adding the best under cabinet lighting! You’ll always be able to see what you are doing while working on your family meals.