The right undercabinet lighting can make your kitchen simultaneously more functional and more beautiful. It provides bright task lighting just where you need it, adding illumination that not only aids with food preparation but also adds a sense of drama and finish to the entire room. It can also double as evening lighting, allowing you to turn off bright overhead lights in favor of dimmer, moodier lighting from a concealed, discreet source.
Undercabinet lighting comes in LED, fluorescent (inexpensive and cool, but not dimmable) and incandescent (this includes Xenon which provides a warmer glow and is usually dimmable).
LED is the most energy efficient of all the options. Many LED fixtures are designed to be direct-wired, so they don’t hog your outlets and they maintain a streamlined look. Hardwired systems require a 120V power source for each unit, which means their placement will have to be carefully planned by an electrician, ideally at the same time as cabinet installation. Direct-wire systems can be installed retroactively into a completed kitchen, but will likely require some heavier renovation work, since you’ll need to cut into the backsplash wall.
An alternate installation option is plug-in—which is sometimes the most practical and cost-efficient choice because you won’t need to renovate your cabinets. Also, you can usually install it yourself rather than needing to hire a electrician. Much like plug-in track lighting, you can install it even if you rent your apartment or house, giving your more lighting options.
Regardless what specific fixture you pick, whether it’s linear, self contained, or puck/disk lights, you should create a layout that provides sufficient surface coverage creating an even flow of task lighting across the full span of the counter.
Here are some of our favorite options for undercabinet lighting and undercabinet systems:
adorne® by Legrand
The adorne® Undercabinet system by Legrand is a flexible, modular, and fully customizable solution designed to eliminate kitchen clutter. Modular tracks plug together to form the base of the system, housing all of the wiring that connects the modules. You can select from several types of modules—including LED puck and linear lights—and modify your system in minutes; simply pop out an existing module and replace it with a new module at any time. The system can either be hardwired or plugged into an outlet. Bonus: the system includes tech-friendly options like USB chargers and a digital music system with bluetooth wireless technology.
Ambiance’s Lx Cable System is versatile and easy to design and install. You can choose from different energy-efficient and dimmable LED modules that quickly snap into the track and cable. In order to configure your system, you select your desired LED modules, a cable and track, additional components, and a transformer. This system is a good choice if you’re looking for task lighting in specific places, rather than an even glow across the full length of the countertop.
TECH Lighting’s popular Unilume LED undercabinet system is known for consistent illumination, high efficacy, and very small profiles. They achieve this by “utilizing tightly clustered blue LEDs and optimizing mixing chambers and remote phosphor lenses.” If that’s too technical, just know you can’t go wrong with these products if you’re looking for discrete illumination to span the full length of your cabinets.
The Unilume LED Slimline Undercabinet Light is less than 0.75″ of an inch deep and has an integrated LED driver that makes installation easy and allows smooth dimming down to 15%.
The Unilume LED Light Bar utilizes a remote driver setup to allow for an ultra slim housing design—just 0.68” deep and 1.13” wide. Its unique end-to-end connectors allow for 40 feet of uninterrupted, uniform light without the use of jumper wires.
The LINE Edge-Lit LED Undercabinet Light is a high output energy efficient undercabinet light that provides a wide angle of glare-free lighting. The system can be ordered as plug in or hardwired and is available in five lengths making it a cost effective and easy to install task undercabinet lighting system.
The 10 Inch LED Under-Cabinet Light is part of the easy to use Under-Cabinet system from George Kovacs. This versatile system is great for both lighting beginners and experts. You can customize your own system of light by selecting the length and shaped connectors needed for your project and linking them together. It can be installed as a hardwired installation or plug-in which makes it perfect for more than just kitchen remodels and new construction. You might even consider using it in your closet or bookshelves.
Feeling inspired but not sure how to choose the best lighting for your kitchen? Read TECH Lighting’s Guide on How to Order Undercabinet Lighting or call YLighting’s ALA Certified Lighting Sales Associates for free advice and planning at 866.314.0965.
Aja Queen is a Lighting Specialist in the Sales Department for YLighting. In her own time she takes an interest in the outdoor lifestyle of San Diego where she calls home spending as much time as possible with family and friends.