Under Cabinet Lights
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST UNDER CABINET LIGHTING
When it comes to the kitchen, lighting is one of the most important aspects. Not only does it help you see what you are cutting up or stirring in the pot, it also defines the unique style and feel of your kitchen space.
While overhead lighting is the priority for many homeowners, you should also consider installing under cabinet lighting. This refers to a variety of light fixtures installed on the underside of cabinets. These lights are important for work space lighting or as aesthetic complements or both. In this comprehensive guide, we compare various types of under cabinet lighting. We also provide some helpful shopping advice, detailing the important features you should consider when looking for the best under cabinet lighting.
Note that under cabinet lighting is not just for the kitchen. You can use it wherever you have installed cabinets, be it your basement bar or dining room.
Things to Consider when Buying Under Cabinet Lights
In regards to voltage, there are two main types of under cabinet lighting; normal (line) voltage (120V) lighting and low voltage (12V or 24V) lighting. There is no significant difference in energy savings, light quality and life span between high voltage and low voltage under cabinet lighting.
Low voltage lighting however has a few advantages. For one, you can use smaller light fixtures, making it possible to fit more lights in a tight space under the cabinet. Secondly, low voltage lighting produces less heat, making for a more comfortable space.
Note that a transformer is necessary if you opt for low voltage lighting. The transformer steps down the high 120V voltage into a lower 12V or 24V voltage. Usually, the transformer will be installed inside the cabinet or in another remote location along the circuit.
There are two basic types of wiring used with under cabinet lighting; hard-wire and simple plug in. Hard-wiring involves connecting the lights directly to the existing wiring in the house. Power is drawn directly from a power source. Plug in draws power from a power outlet, often a wall socket.
Obviously, plug-in lighting is the simpler and least expensive option that you can even install yourself. For the hard-wire options, the services of a professional electrician will be necessary. So for ease of installation, our recommendation is plug in lighting. Some sellers will sell under cabinet lighting that can either be plugged in or hardwired. Other types of under cabinet lighting are plug-in only or hard-wire only. So make sure you check the wiring requirements when shopping for under cabinet lighting.
Some types of under cabinet lighting have no wiring requirements at all. They are battery powered.
3. Dimming Capability
We highly recommend that you get lighting with a dimming capability. While this may mean incurring extra cost for the dimmers, it gives you much more control over the lighting. One benefit for this is saving energy. When you do not need the bright light, dimming it can save some energy.
Additionally, different people may have varying visual needs. For example a person with eyesight problems may want low-intensity lightning without the painful glare. Dimmers ensure that everyone can work in the lighting conditions they prefer best. Dimmers also come in handy when you want some mood lighting in your kitchen.
4. Fixture Lenses
Fixture lenses are important in creating a uniform light distribution, minimizing bright reflections on the counter and reducing glare. Halogen and xenon lighting fixtures can be especially glaring making it necessary to include lenses in your purchase.
5. Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency has become an all-important part of residential lighting. If you are looking for the most energy efficient under cabinet lighting option, LED is the place to go. Some LED fixtures use as little as 5 watts while still emitting adequate illumination. An added advantage is that LED lights are easy to dim, adding to their energy-saving capability. They also produce very little to almost no heat.
Xenon lights are less energy efficient but are still a lot better than the power-gobbling incandescent lamps. They have a nice warm glow, giving your kitchen a homely ambiance. They are also dimmable, which can help save some energy. Note that xenon lights tend to give off a little heat.
The other great options for energy efficient under cabinet lighting include halogen and fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is especially energy efficient and produces almost no heat. A downside of fluorescent fixtures is that most of them cannot be dimmed, giving you less control over the light intensity.
6. Heat Output
We have already talked a little about heat output under ‘energy efficiency’. To recap, fluorescent, and LED lighting are best when it comes to heat output. They are cool to the touch. This is especially important in a kitchen where certain foods or food ingredients could be sensitive to heat.
Xenon lighting gets a little hotter than both fluorescent and LED. Halogen lighting is often regarded as the hottest under cabinet lighting, though it is still a much more preferable option to traditional incandescent bulbs.
7. Ease of Installation
If you are planning to do some DIY installation, you need to consider how easy it is to install a certain type of under cabinet lighting. LED strips and ropes are the easiest to install. Puck lights can be a bit more challenging.
Generally, go for simple plug-in or battery-powered lights rather than those that require hard-wiring.
There are a few other factors that are mostly just a matter of reference. For example, do you go for puck lights, linear, or strip lights? Linear lights such as LED strip lights tend to provide uniform lighting on the work surface. Puck lights on the other hand provide spots of focused lighting. Another question is, recessed or surface mounted? There is not much difference between the two types when it comes to function or aesthetics. Most people assume that surface mounted puck lights will look unattractive. However, these fixtures are usually very thin, ensuring they do not stick out unattractively from under the cabinet.
Top-Rated LED Under Cabinet Lighting Distributor & Supplier
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