How Does The Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting Work

 Under cabinet lighting, in particular, has become increasingly popular due to its ability to provide focused illumination, enhance aesthetic appeal, and increase the functionality of kitchen workspaces. 

But how does kitchen under cabinet lighting work? 

Kitchen under cabinet lighting works by providing focused illumination directly onto countertops and workspaces, enhancing visibility for tasks such as chopping and cooking. These lights are installed beneath cabinets and can be wired, plug-in, or battery-operated.

Lets take a look at various aspects of under-cabinet lighting, including types, installation process, benefits, maintenance, and why using a kitchen remodeling contractor is important to get the perfect set-up.

What is Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting?

Under cabinet lighting refers to light fixtures installed underneath kitchen cabinets to provide direct illumination to the countertops and workspaces below. 

This type of lighting serves multiple purposes, from aiding in food preparation to creating a warm and welcoming ambiance in the kitchen. 

It can be either hardwired into the electrical system or powered through plug-in units, depending on the preference and the electrical setup of the kitchen.

kitchen under cabinet lighting

How Does Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting Work?

There are various types of under cabinet lighting systems, and they work using different technologies.

Here's an overview of how they generally work:

Incandescent or Halogen Lighting

In traditional incandescent or halogen under cabinet lighting, a bulb produces light when electricity flows through a filament, heating it until it emits light.

These bulbs are often screw-in or plug-in types, and they are relatively easy to install. They can emit a warm, yellowish light and may require more frequent replacement compared to LED alternatives.

under cabinet lighting in the kitchen

Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent under cabinet lights work by passing an electric current through a tube containing low-pressure mercury vapor and a phosphorescent coating.

This process produces ultraviolet (UV) light, which, in turn, causes the phosphorescent coating to emit visible light.

Fluorescent lighting is energy-efficient and provides bright, even illumination, but it may have a slight delay in reaching full brightness.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) Lighting

LED under cabinet lights are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency, long lifespan, and versatility. They work by passing an electric current through a semiconductor material, causing it to emit light.

They also produce very little heat, making them safe for installation in tight spaces like under cabinets. LED lights come in various forms, such as LED strips, pucks, and linear bars, allowing for flexible and customizable installations.

kitchen cabinet lighting

Wireless Controls

Many modern under cabinet lighting systems offer wireless controls, such as remote controls or smartphone apps, that allow users to adjust the brightness and color temperature of the lights.

Some systems even offer smart home integration, enabling voice control or automation through platforms like Alexa or Google Assistant

kitchen under lighting cabinet

Installation Process of Under Cabinet Lighting

Proper installation is key to ensuring that under cabinet lighting functions efficiently and safely.

  1. Planning the Layout: Before installation, it is important to plan the layout of the lights, considering the size of the cabinets and the areas that require focused lighting.
  2. Choosing the Right Type of Lighting: Selecting the appropriate type of lighting based on the desired level of illumination and ambiance is crucial. Consider factors such as energy efficiency, heat production, and color temperature.
  3. Wiring and Connection: The lights can be hardwired into the electrical system or connected through plug-in units. Hardwiring provides a cleaner look but requires a more complex installation process.
  4. Securing the Lights: Once the wiring is in place, the lights need to be securely attached to the underside of the cabinets, ensuring they are aligned and evenly spaced.

Benefits of Having Under Cabinet Lighting in the Kitchen

Under cabinet lighting offers a range of benefits, enhancing both the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the kitchen.

  • Enhanced Visibility: The focused illumination reduces shadows and provides clear visibility for cooking and food preparation.
  • Energy Efficiency: LED and fluorescent options offer energy-efficient lighting solutions, reducing electricity consumption and lowering energy bills.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Under cabinet lighting adds a modern and sophisticated touch to the kitchen, enhancing its overall design.
  • Increased Home Value: The addition of under cabinet lighting can increase the value of your home, making it more appealing to potential buyers.
cabinet kitchen lighting

Common Issues and Solutions with Under Cabinet Lighting

Despite its benefits, under cabinet lighting can sometimes face issues such as flickering lights or burnt-out bulbs. 

Understanding how to troubleshoot and resolve these issues is crucial for maintaining optimal performance.

  • Flickering Lights: Flickering can occur due to issues with the wiring or the bulbs themselves. Checking the connections and replacing faulty bulbs can resolve this issue.
  • Burnt Out Bulbs: Regularly checking and replacing burned-out bulbs ensures consistent illumination.
  • Wiring Issues: Faulty wiring can lead to issues with the lighting. If you are experiencing persistent issues, it may be best to consult with a professional electrician.
  • Switch Problems: Problems with the switch can also cause issues with the under cabinet lighting. Ensuring the switch is in good working condition is important for reliable performance.

Innovative Ideas for Under Cabinet Lighting

Embracing innovative lighting solutions can enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of under cabinet lighting.

  • Motion Sensor Lights: Motion sensor lights provide a convenient and energy-efficient option, turning on and off automatically based on movement.
  • Smart Home Integration: Integrating under cabinet lighting with smart home systems allows for remote control and automation, adding an extra layer of convenience.
  • Color Changing Lights: Color changing lights offer the ability to adjust the color temperature and ambiance of the lighting, providing a customizable experience.
cabinet lighting kitchen

FAQ on How Kitchen Under Cabinet Lighting Work

Can under-cabinet lighting be used as the primary light source in the kitchen?

While under-cabinet lighting significantly enhances the illumination of countertops and workspaces, it is typically used as supplementary lighting. For a well-rounded lighting plan, it's advisable to incorporate other light sources, such as overhead lighting or pendant lights, to ensure adequate illumination throughout the entire kitchen.

What are the energy-saving options available for under-cabinet lighting?

To save energy and reduce electricity bills, consider opting for LED or fluorescent under cabinet lights. These options are highly energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan compared to incandescent or halogen bulbs. 

How do I ensure even distribution of light with under cabinet lighting?

To achieve an even distribution of light across your countertops, pay attention to the spacing and positioning of the light fixtures. Ensure that the lights are evenly spaced and positioned close to the front edge of the cabinets to minimize shadows and provide uniform illumination. 

Is it possible to retrofit existing cabinets with under cabinet lighting?

Yes, it is possible to retrofit existing cabinets with under cabinet lighting. There are various plug-in and battery-operated options available that can be easily installed without the need for extensive wiring or modifications to your cabinets. 

How do I maintain and clean my under cabinet lighting fixtures?

Regular maintenance and cleaning are essential to ensuring the optimal performance of your under cabinet lighting. Dust and wipe down the fixtures regularly to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime. 

which way does kitchen under cabinet light work

Wrapping It Up

Under cabinet lighting is a versatile and practical addition to any kitchen, offering enhanced visibility, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. 

By understanding the different types of lighting available, the installation process, and the benefits of under cabinet lighting, homeowners can make informed decisions to transform their kitchen space. 

With proper maintenance and innovative lighting solutions, under cabinet lighting can provide a seamless and functional lighting experience in the heart of your home.

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About the author

Hi my name is Jeremy Maher. My wife, 2 kids and I went through Contractor Nightmares for 3 years straight.

Ben, Mark, and I teamed up to start Phoenix Home Remodeling to help homeowners remodel without the common contractor nightmares.

Learn more about Jeremy's expertise and topics he likes to write about on his author page.