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Installing Undercabinet Lights

Need More Working Light Under Kitchen Cabinets, at the Desk, or in the Workshop?

© 2008 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission

A Halogen Undercabinet Light

A halogen undercabinet light

This article was updated on 10/03/20.

Need more working light under kitchen cabinets, at the desk or in the workshop? Harness the power of low voltage halogen bulbs in easy to install undercabinet lights.

Undercabinet lights are a very convenient way to brighten up one specific space. One example of a place where they are ideal is under kitchen cabinets. This is handy for food preparation or reading the small print in cookbooks or on food package labels.

Installing undercabinet lights is a piece of cake when forearmed with the right information. A great time to add this modern convenience is while restoring vintage kitchen cabinets.

Low-voltage halogen lights will save money on energy bills due to their energy efficiency while directing focused light only where it's needed. Halogen is an excellent alternative to incandescent light bulbs. They provide a stronger light source than LED bulbs but generate more heat.

Tip: If you are having any electrical issues now is the time to tackle them.

Other Good Locations for Undercabinet Lighting

Is there a home office for a student in the home or you working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, it’s a good bet that there's also a computer desk where a little more well-directed light would be welcome. Another good spot is at the garage work bench.

Do you have a glass-fronted cabinet in the living or dining room? Undercabinet lighting will create a dramatic display of that heirloom china or collection of tacky knick-knacks.

Types of Undercabinet Lights

Choose the model of light fixture that is the most appropriate for the intended use. The most common ones are called “puck lights” because they’re shaped like one. These are great for lighting one spot specifically. For more light over a broader area, rectangular shaped fixtures fit the bill.

Many of these lights are designed to connect to each other in a daisy chain configuration. This allows the installer to really customize the lighted area's size and visual impact. For instance, in a china cabinet, individual pieces can be spotlighted.

Undercabinet Light Components

To install undercabinet lights, the first thing to do is accumulate the necessary undercabinet light components. The proper lighting kit will include:

  • Lighting unit (fixture)
  • Halogen light bulb(s) (Use lower wattage for enclosed spaces, such as in a cabinet.)
  • Cord
  • Transformer
  • Cord switch

Light Fixture Installation Tools Needed

Just basic tools here; no big cash outlay!

  • Screwdriver
  • Corded or cordless drill
  • Wire securing staples
  • Hammer

Undercabinet Light Installation Steps

  1. Follow these steps to install the undercabinet light. Some applications will vary slightly; refer to the installation manual.
  2. Position the lighting unit(s) where desired and attach it with screws, making sure that the screws are not so long that they protrude on the other side of the cabinet.
  3. If installing more than one fixture, attach them to the cabinet and daisy-chain them together with connector wires.
  4. Connect the power cord to an electrical outlet. If the cord is excessively long, coil it up and secure it out of the way. (Cord management)]
  5. Attach all applicable cabling to the underside of the cabinet to tidy things up.
  6. Open the fixture lens cover and install the halogen bulb. CAUTION: Do not touch the bulb with bare fingers; use a cloth.
  7. Replace the lens cover.
  8. Plug it in and turn it on.

Are you going to be installing undercabinet lights in your kitchen, shop, or home office this weekend?

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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© 2008 all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.