Adding under cabinet lighting to your kitchen is one of those home improvement projects that you will never regret. It’s relatively inexpensive, can absolutely transform the look of your room, and will also increase the value of your home should you ever decide to sell.
The question is which under cabinet lights to install. There are a wide variety of options, and as long as you stick with a high-quality retailer, there is no type that is necessarily better than the other. It all depends on your preferences.
Ask yourself these questions before you start shopping to get a better idea of exactly what you’re looking for:
1. What color do I want the light given off to be? This has to do with the aesthetic quality of your under cabinet lights: do you prefer more of a yellowish, warm glow, or do you want the light to be pure white? For the warm glow, check out xenon under cabinet lighting. It’s a type of incandescent light, so it’ll have the same look as your familiar living room lamp. Also, fluorescent under cabinet lights are available in a “warm white” option, and it’s much more energy efficient than xenon. Xenon lighting, however, is dimmable (unlike fluorescent), which can be a major benefit as well.
For the pure white light, look for either “cool white” fluorescent under cabinet lights or LED under cabinet lights. If you’re venturing into the LED options, though, be careful: this is a relatively new technology, and there are some products out there that are simply not up to par with comparable light sources. Check that the Color Rendering Index (CRI) of the light is at least 85, and be sure to read the lumen (light) output of the fixture. A 60-watt incandescent bulb typically gives off 850 lumens. A 100-watt incandescent bulb gives off 1,700 – this should give you an idea of what to shoot for.
2. How do I want the light to hit the countertop? If you haven’t paid attention to many different styles of under cabinet lights before, do a quick Google Image search for “puck under cabinet lights”, followed by “linear under cabinet lights.” Basically, puck lights will create several focused pools of lights on your countertops. Linear lights will create a more even distribution. If you decide you prefer one style over the other, it will help narrow down your options quite a bit.
3. Do I have a plug near my cabinets that I can use for installation? A good place to check for this is inside your upper cabinets, especially any cabinets above the microwave. Contractors often add an outlet up here that is perfect for installing under cabinet lights. If you don’t have any outlet nearby, don’t panic. You can always hardwire the lights (connect them directly to the power source behind the walls in your house). Many under cabinet lights can be set up both ways (plug-in or hardwire), but just in case, determine your outlet situation before you start shopping. Make sure the model you select can be installed to match your requirements. You should be able to see “hardwire” and “plug-in” in the product descriptions.
Emily Widle is a regular blogger for Pegasus Lighting, an online lighting retailer. Pegasus Lighting offers a great selection of high-quality under cabinet light fixtures.