If you need more light on your countertops, or you want to add a bit of ambiance without always using the overhead lighting, under cabinet lighting is a great option to have in the kitchen. In an ideal situation, a switched circuit is run prior to the installation of the cabinets – this makes adding lighting as simple as choosing your lights, installing them under your cabinets, and connecting them to the circuit. However, chances are that if you don’t already have under cabinet lighting, you may not have the wiring.
In this case, you’ll want to get a licensed electrician to snake new wiring to the proper locations and add a switch. There are various types of lighting available – incandescent, fluorescent, LED, low voltage or line voltage. There are even retrofit lights with their own battery power supply for areas where the installation of wiring is difficult or cost prohibitive. Kits are also available that come with lights, wiring and the transformer – everything you need to shed a little light on the situation.
No matter what type of lighting you choose, you’ll want to give some thought to the placement of the fixtures, and where you’ll want the switch. Be sure to spread the lights evenly to avoid ‘hot spots’ in some areas and dark corners. You’ll need your lights, ½” wood screws to fasten them to the underside of the cabinets, electrical connectors and electrical tape – wire clips are handy to keep low voltage lines up under the cabinets and out of sight. Battery operated LED lights often come with a self adhesive backing that makes installing them as simple as peel and stick. If your lights need a little more juice than a battery and you’re not experienced working with electrical, hire a licensed electrician to hook up the power!
If you don’t already have a valence under your cabinets, you’ll probably want to install one to hide the light fixtures and wiring – there are a lot of different profiles to choose from. A valence also helps to direct the light down to the countertops and not out in to the room.
Most lighting kits come with clear instructions – take a few minutes to read them and the job will go much smoother!