How to Wire & Mount Under Cabinet Lights

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Installing under cabinet lighting is a great way to add to the beauty and efficiency of any kitchen. Task lighting is available in both 110-volt and low-voltage (LV) styles, with low-voltage taking the lion's share of the do-it-yourself market. It's so safe and easy to work with that even the rank beginner can finish the project with complete success upon the first try. Task lighting may use incandescent, fluorescent or light emitting diodes (LEDs), with LED light sources being the coolest operating and the most energy efficient. Task lighting fixtures are available as surface-mounted fixtures or as recessed fixtures. Use surface mounted LV fixtures, as installing them doesn't require surrendering interior cabinet space.

Things You'll Need

  • Low-voltage light fixtures
  • Low-voltage lighting transformer
  • Low-voltage flat wire
  • Mounting hardware
  • 3/8-inch drill/driver
  • Spade bits
  • Screw drivers
  • Diagonal pliers/wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Adhesive wire retaining clips
  • Select the type of LED lighting fixtures that will create the lighting effect you desire. Strip LED lighting fixtures is the best choice for even illumination of the work surface, and unlike their 110-volt fluorescent predecessors, they are compact strips that take up little room. "Puck" fixture, they're the size and shape of a hockey puck, creates pools of light on the counter surface, which many people find ascetically pleasing. "Linear light assemblies' are a good choice if you would like to be able to reposition the lights from time to time without having to use any tools. The individual lamp heads on the linear assembly simply slide along on a power track so you put the light exactly where you need it in a flash.

  • Layout the placement of the light fixtures and drill a 3/8-inch hole through cabinet separation strips to allow routing the LV wiring between cabinet sections.

  • Mount the light fixture to the underside of the cabinets using the wood screws supplied with the fixtures.

  • Using diagonal pliers/wire cutters, cut lengths of low-voltage wire to run between the lighting fixtures. Cut them long enough so there's a little slack in them after they are attached to the fixtures. Don't cut them so short that they are stretched taut, because they will eventually come free from their terminals.

  • Using the wire stripper remove 1/4- to 3/8-inches of insulation from the ends of the wires.

  • Connect the individual light fixtures together, being careful to not reverse the polarity of the wiring. The LED units are direct current (DC) units, so always connect the red wire to the red or + terminal and the black or -- wire to the black or -- terminal. Secure the wire to the underside of the cabinets using the adhesive clips.

  • Connect the leads from the power adapter to whichever light fixture is closest to the receptacle that you want to plug the power adapter into.

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  • Photo Credit kitchen 17 image by redking from Fotolia.com
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