Under cabinet lighting upgrades your kitchen from one that is simply functional to one that is comfortable and enjoyable to work in.
The right type and placement lets you see better what you are cutting and cooking, removes shadows from overhead lighting and prevents glare or flickering.
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3 Most Common Types of Lights
There are 3 main types of LED lighting that you can install under your cabinet; pucks, tube lighting, LED tape or rope lights. Read through the overview below to decide which one works best for your layout, purpose and interior design aesthetic.
1. Puck Lights
This label refers to the round thicker fixtures that resemble a hockey puck. They don’t offer a very large angle of light but they compensate that with their wide range of models and products.
In terms of design this type gives you more options because you can easily install them as both visible surface-mounted units or as recessed lights that disappear into a surface.
Most people hardwire this type, meaning that each unit is connected to each other and controlled by a single switch (you can normally hide the wires out of view). You can install a dimmer but you cannot control each one individually.
For aesthetic reasons, the wiring is generally hidden under an additional surface beneath the cupboards which also offers the needed height for mounting the lights.
Knowing this, consider the height between your cupboards and counter tops to decide how thick the lighting fixtures and mounting surface should be before purchasing.
Placement is very important if this option takes your preference because this type of lighting usually does not have a wide angle. The standard recommended spacing for puck lights is 8 -12 inches.
Though there angle width is limited, you still have control over the direction. Consider whether you want the pucks to face directly down unto the counter or more at an angle from the wall, for example.
2. Tube Lighting
This design and technology is most similar to fluorescent lighting which was the most common model for under cabinet lighting in the last few decades. However, switching to an LED tube light is more energy-efficient and cost-efficient.
Replacing fluorescent lighting with an LED version is not difficult because there are several replacement kits available that require minimum installation effort. The most important thing to remember is that the size stays the same.
This model gives you a greater area of illumination so you probably have fewer lighting fixtures to install.
How much wiring is required depends on whether the tube light must be hardwired, has an electrical cord, or is battery-powered and whether you want them linked or individually controlled.
Customization is possible with this type – think of dimmers, different color temperatures and motion sensors. Again, this is up to personal preference and how handy you are with installing electronic devices.
Advantages of this option is that they don’t have any mercury or toxic gases inside and they stay cool to the touch thanks to LED technology. This might be an important safety consideration when you have small children that like to hang out in the kitchen.
The downside of tubes is that they are less stylish and might not blend is as well with the rest of the kitchen design. You could think of a way to cover the sides but this takes away from its main benefit, the wide angle of illumination.
3. LED Tape & Rope Lights
If you are looking for a quick installation without any wiring then this is the one for you. LED tape and rope lights are usually battery-powered or include an electrical cord that you can simply plug into a wall outlet so there is no need to connect them to a power switch.
With wiring out of the way, affixing them to a surface also becomes a lot easier. Tape lights are self-adhesive and you can secure rope lights to a surface using clips.
However, this option still requires careful planning out of the layout because once you cut them up you are breaking the circuit
So, make sure that you trace the path first and figure out the best way to install LED tape and rope without having to buy additional electrical cords or battery packs.
This is a smart alternative for those renting an apartment because it is temporary, does not require any altering of the cabinets and is also very affordable.
You can also get more creative with the shapes and place the rope in little nooks and crannies that other lighting fixtures would be to big for.
The downside of this quick fix is that you have less control over the lighting. You cannot install motion sensors, dimmers to adjust the brightness nor change the color of the illumination.
Before you start browsing for new under cabinet lighting, consider which type works best in your kitchen. Also, don’t forget to think about which installation process you’d be most comfortable with.