Under cabinet Lighting is exactly what it sounds like – lighting located directly under a cabinet. There are tons of advantages to using under cabinet lighting. under cabinet lighting looks sleek and modern. It is an easy way to add a unique touch to your home. under cabinet lighting can also be extremely helpful for lighting up your bookshelves, desk, or kitchen counters.
If you are looking for under cabinet lighting to go in your home, you probably have some pretty specific needs. The best under cabinet lighting can vary depending on where you want to install the lights, how much you want to spend, and what you are hoping to illuminate. In this article, we’ve compiled some advice on how to find the best under cabinet lighting for your needs. Keep reading to learn more!
The Value of under cabinet Lighting
Under cabinet lighting can brighten up any living area, kitchen, or workspace. If you need great light for sewing, writing, or cooking under cabinet lighting is a great option to consider. It helps minimize shadows because you cannot stand between the light and your work surface. It is also less harsh than overhead lighting and does not illuminate areas you’d like to keep dark.
Under cabinet lighting is fairly easy to install. Compared to recessed lighting or pendant lighting, it’s a breeze. It is also relatively inexpensive. With under cabinet lighting, you can completely change the look of a room, even on a budget. under cabinet lighting can also help reduce your energy bill. You no longer have to light up an entire room to see what you’re doing.
Below we’ve laid out pretty much everything you need to know about under cabinet lighting. We’ve sifted through all the different types of fixtures and lighting. We’ve also looked into some installation tips and tricks. We’ve even included some advice on where to install your under cabinet lights and how to select your lumens.
Once you know where you want to install your under cabinet lighting, you can start thinking about style. If you are primarily using the light to illuminate a surface where you will cook or do projects, you’re going to want some pretty bright light. If you are installing your under cabinet lighting primarily for ambiance, you could get away with something dimmer.
Here are the three most popular under cabinet lighting fixture types:
Rope lights are long strips of plastic, transparent rope with lights inside. Rope lights look a lot like string lights, but the light bulbs are inside the cable instead of hanging from the cable. Rope lights are a popular option for under cabinet lighting because they are easy to install and can create a warm tone in your space.
It can be a little difficult to maneuver rope lights around tight spaces, as the cable is thick and needs a fair amount of room. It also cannot bend at a 90-degree angle without breaking (1000Bulbs). No matter how small your rope light is, you may have trouble concealing it completely. Rope lights can also get quite hot.
The good news is that rope lights come in a variety of voltage sizes, including 12-volt, 24-volt, and 120-volt. They are available with LED or more incandescent lights. You can find rope lights in a variety of lengths as well. You can also have rope lights cut into sections so that it fits the specific needs of your project.
Tape lights are similar to rope lights, but where rope light is cylindrical like a rope, tape lights are flat like tape. This flatness means tape light is easy to install and easier to conceal than rope light. You can even buy L-shape connectors to help install tape lights at sharp angles. Tape lights also come in multiple varieties, including LED and RGB options.
One drawback of tape lights is that they only come in on size. All tape light comes in a 16-foot strip of 24-volt lights (1000Bulbs). If you are looking to install under cabinet lighting in a small space, it may be the perfect option. If your project is much larger, you may want to look into other fixture types.
Puck lights get their name because they are shaped like a hockey puck. They are flat and round and are extremely discreet once installed. Puck lights come in several varieties, including LED, halogen, and xenon bulb options. If you don’t want to install wiring for your under cabinet lighting, puck lights can be a great option. Puck lights come in battery-powered varieties that simply adhere to the bottom of your cabinet without a wire.
Strip lights are a great way to get soft, subtle lighting underneath your cabinets. Strip lights are discreet and inexpensive. They are also easy to install, some varieties of strip lights even come with adhesive on the back. Strip lights last a long time and provide even, consistent lighting. Strip lights come in waterproof varieties making them a great option for the kitchen or bathroom.
Strip lights are not the brightest option for your under cabinet lighting. If you are planning to use your under cabinet lighting for work, you may want to consider a puck light or another brighter option. Some strip lights may also require a separate power supply which can cost extra money.
Once you’ve picked out your fixtures, it is time to move on to the lighting types. Lighting types set the tone for your room. They can create warm light or cool light, bright light or dim light. Below we’ve listed four popular lighting types you may want to choose from.
LED Lights are the newest lighting option on the market. They are made to be energy-efficient and help people save on their electricity bill. under cabinet LED lights are highly versatile and come in pretty much any color or brightness variety. LED lights are famously long-lasting. These lights are dimmable, and can easily take a room from day to night.
Fluorescent lights are a tried and true under cabinet lighting option. Although manufacturers used to use large, T12 bulbs for under cabinet lighting, they typically use smaller, T5 bulbs nowadays (1000Bulbs). Fluorescent lights are bright and stay cool even if left on for a long time. They are not a very fancy option but are excellent for workspaces that need bright light.
Fluorescent lighting is particularly popular for under cabinet lighting in the kitchen. Fluorescent lights exhibit none of the annoying quirks associated with incandescent light, like flickering or humming. Fluorescent lights are known for lasting a long time. Keep in mind, however, that fluorescent lights contain mercury. It is not hazardous when inside the bulb, but if your lights break, proceed carefully.
Halogen is a type of incandescent bulb. Halogen lights use halogen gas to increase light output. Halogen lights are moderately efficient but are known to get pretty hot if used over a long period. If you prefer incandescent light, halogen is a good old-school option. Halogen lights produce bright, warm lighting that is quite popular in people’s homes.
Halogen lights are notorious for their short lifespans, so you may need to replace them frequently. Halogen lights are moderately efficient but are known to get pretty hot if used over a long period. They have a reputation for not performing as efficiently as LED or fluorescent lights. Halogen and xenon both produce more heat than LED or fluorescent lights. Halogen produces the most heat of any lighting type.
Xenon is one of the oldest lights used in under cabinet lighting. Xenon lights have the perfect color rendering and can make marble countertops shine. These lights use a thin tungsten filament that, when hot enough, produces light. Xenon lights are thus named because they contain xenon gas.
Xenon lights are popular because they give off a bright, warm light. However, xenon lights get extremely hot. For this reason, xenon lights are generally recommended for work surfaces but are not great for kitchens because they can heat up food sitting on the counter. Xenon lights come in dimmable varieties and are a highly efficient lighting option.
If you plan is to install your under cabinet lighting yourself, you will want to know how hard it is to install the various light types. A battery-powered light will be the easiest to install. under cabinet lighting that comes with a plug is also pretty simple to install – just make sure you put it near a plug or have an extension cord ready.
under cabinet lights that require you to install wiring are more difficult to install. Puck lights can be a particular challenge because you’ll need to drill holes into your cabinet and then mount the light using screws. If you want recessed puck lighting, you will have to saw a hole into the bottom of your cabinet. You will also need to mount the power outlet.
If you are installing strip lights, you will need to measure your cabinets first and then cut the length of strip light you need. You can connect a dimmer to your strip lights if you want, but you will need an extra low-voltage wire. Many strip lights have made your job even easier because they come with peel-and-stick backs.
If your under cabinet lights require hardwiring, we highly recommend you employ a professional to do the job. Hardwiring can get tricky. Although it is possible to hardwire your under cabinet lights on your own, there is a risk of fire and electric shock. If you decide to hardwire under cabinet lighting yourself, we recommend being extremely careful.
Placement can be everything when it comes to your under cabinet lighting. Here are some tips on how to place your under cabinet lights to maximize their use and appearance:
Lumens are the amount of light emitted from a bulb that is visible to the human eye. The brighter a light appears, the higher the lumens of the bulb. Lumens are used to measure the power of LED lights, just like Watts traditionally measure the power of incandescent light. As technology improves, lumens can produce more light using fewer Watts. They are therefore a more accurate measurement of a light’s power.
The number of lumens you will need for our under cabinet lighting depends on your goals. The most popular lighting in America is a 60-watt bulb, which translates to 800-850 lamp (the unit we use to measure lumens). If your countertops are dark, you may need a light with more lumens than you would for lighter countertops.
Hardwired vs. Plug-InThe hardwired vs. plug-in debate comes down to answering some simple questions:
If your goal is to have extremely discreet under cabinet lighting that fits seamlessly in with the other lighting in your home, then go for hardwired lighting. When you hardwire, you can connect your lights directly to a light switch, making them an integral part of your home. Hardwiring is also much more permanent.
If you aim to have under cabinet lighting that is very easy to install, choose the plug-in option. These lights are quite simple to install on your own and will not require any input from an electrician. However, plug-ins do mean some visible wires which some homeowners consider unsightly.
If you live in an apartment or rental home you might want to choose plug-in under cabinet lighting. Hardwiring is permanent, and unless you have permission to change the lighting in your apartment, it probably violates your lease to re-hardwire the unit. Plus, you are much more likely to move if you are in an apartment. No need to go through the trouble of hardwiring if you’re not going to enjoy your hard work for many years to come.
How Much Lighting Do You Need?
Another thing you’re going to want to know is exactly how much light is appropriate for your space. Answering this question comes down to how you’re going to use the space. under cabinet lighting in a living room is typically used to illuminate bookshelves or pictures and create ambiance in the room. under cabinet lighting in a kitchen or workshop is more practical and is probably going to be brighter.
You will also want to consider the type of light you have selected and the wattage or lumens of that light. If you are using a very bright light, you probably don’t need much lighting. If your lights are dimmer, you may want more of them to create the look and feel you are after with your under cabinet lights.
Before selecting your under cabinet lights, you’ll need to decide if you want your lights to dim. Dimmable lights are great because you can instantly change the mood of a room. Take your kitchen for example – when you are working and cooking you can turn your lights up high. When you’re ready to sit down, eat, and relax, you can turn the lights down. If you find a light you love that does not include a dimmer, you can buy a separate dimmer and attach it to your light.
Color Temperature is a measure of the warmth or coolness of a light. A cool light will bring out the blue hues of the room. Warm light will bring out the reds, oranges, and yellows in a room. A high-temperature bulb will give off a cool light, where a low-temperature bulb gives off a warm light. As a general rule, warm light creates a sense of calm, cool light makes people more alert.
A standard 60-watt light bulb has a color temperature measure of 2700K. This is the most popular color temperature used in American homes. As a point of reference, a candle gives off 1000K-1700K, where modern LED bulb gives off 5000K. You can also find high-efficiency LEDs that are 6500K and are notorious for their blue light.
The Best Under Cabinet Lighting
So, given all this information – what is the best under cabinet lighting for your needs? Below we’ve compiled a list of five great under cabinet lighting options.
1. Best Overall Under Cabinet Lighting
About: The Litever under cabinet Lighting Kit is a 3000K warm white under cabinet lighting option. These lights give off 333 lumen light that is soft and even. They guarantee to eliminate any LED dots or unpleasant light glaring.
You can decide how you want to install these lights. They come with adhesive pads, wire clips, and mounting clips.
The Litever under cabinet Lighting Kit also includes an extension cord, so it can easily plug in even if it’s far from the plug. These lights can hardwire into your home, but Litever recommends that you hire a certified electrician to cut off the plug and connect it to your home’s on/off switch.
Litever’s under cabinet Lighting Kit comes with a three-year warranty, so you don’t have to worry about them dying on you anytime soon. They also come with an optional rotary switch dimmer which can take the lights from 0% to 100%. Unfortunately, even when hardwired these lights will not work with any existing wall dimmers in your home.
2. Best Budget under cabinet Lighting
About: The Brilliant Evolution BRRC134 Wireless LED Puck Light is a fantastic option if you are looking for under cabinet lighting on a budget.
These lights have 55 lumens, and their color temperature is 3000k, give off that desirable warm, white glow. These puck lights come with a wireless remote that works from 15 feet away.
The Brilliant Evolution puck light can also be turned on and off using a tap lens. If you want dimmable lights, these offer several levels of brightness and even include a 50% and 100% brightness button. The Brilliant Evolution puck light comes with an auto-off timer. You can set these lights to turn off after 15 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours.
3. Best Hardwired Under Cabinet Lighting
About: If you want under cabinet lighting that you can hardwire to a light switch, the Inspired LED Hardwire Kitchen Light Kit is a good option. These lights will look professionally installed, even if you do it yourself.
The LEDs use less energy to produce more light and can operate for over 100,000 hours before they need to be replaced.
These lights are branded for the kitchen, but can also work on bookshelves or workspaces. They are dimmable, and the dimmer can also be hardwired into your home. Inspired LED is based out of Tempe, Arizona and has a full-time team available to help you over the phone as you install the lights.
4. Best Under Cabinet Lighting for Desk
About: When you want to brighten up your desk, the Unoseks Dimmable USB LED under cabinet lighting is a great option. These lights are specifically for use in a workspace.
The Unoseks lights are low-power consumption and do not flick or glare. They are designed to be soft on the eyes and maximize eye protection while you work.
These lights come with a switch that can alternate between warm white light, natural white light, and cold white light. This means you can adjust the color temperature depending on if you are working on a laptop, doing crafts, or writing with pen and paper. They also include a two-dimmable button that can change the brightness from 10% to 100%.
Installation is fairly easy. The Unoseks lighting kit comes with adhesive, mounting clips and a magnetic hobnail. Especially great for your workspace is that these lights include four USB ports, so you can connect your laptop or charge your phone with the light. This efficient LED light is made to last for over 25,000 hours.
5. Best Under Cabinet Lighting LEDs
About: LED lights are energy efficient and much better for the environment than alternatives. The Albrillo LED under cabinet Lighting system maximizes these benefits.
It offers a soft white 3000K color temperature and gives off 900 lumens of light but uses only 12 Watts of energy.
The Albrillo can fully illuminate a room using 85% less energy.
These lights are fully dimmable and come with a rotating dimmer switch. They also include a memory feature that remembers your last brightness setting. When you turn the lights back on, they will automatically readjust to your last setting. These lights are super easy to install on your own – you can choose to use screws or double-sided tape, and then plug them right into the wall.
The Albrillo LED under cabinet lights do not overheat and are safe to touch. The PC is frosted, so they won’t cause a glare, no matter the color of your countertops. These lights can work in pretty much any room and users have reported success using them in the kitchen, closet, under desks, over workbenches, and on bookshelves.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Under Cabinet Lights
The most important feature of any soundbar under $300 is that it improves the sound quality of your television.
Though all of the soundbars on our list do just that, the Klipsch R-10B manages to come out on the top.
It boasts superior sound quality, including deep, rich bass thanks to its separate wireless subwoofer. It’s also notable for its two-piece design, Bluetooth compatibility, and aptX audio coding technology.
Coming in close behind this Klipsch model is the Yamaha YAS-105. It has slightly inferior (and, we mean, slightly) sound quality but has an all-in-one design with a quality subwoofer actually built into the soundbar body.
Additional highlights of this Yamaha model are its ultra slim design, extremely simple setup, Bluetooth compatibility, single-cable connection, and functional remote control.
Though these are our two favorite soundbars in this price range, any of the top 5 best soundbars under $300 on this list will be a huge improvement over your television’s built-in speakers.
You’re sure to be happy with the improvement in sound quality for television, movies, and gaming that a soundbar provides.