Pre-wire for undercabinet lights

Randall_NJanuary 27, 2012

We're building a new house and the under-cabinet lights offered by the builder look pretty awful to me (GM LumenTask -- very bulky and would require a valence or something to hide them). This is a production builder who doesn't usually do a lot of customization and I'm already asking quite a bit of him, so I'm not going to ask for different lights. However, I would like to ask him to pre-wire to make it easier for me to install my own lights later.

It looks like the Philips eW Profile Powercore lights are well-regarded by some folks here, so that's what I'm currently thinking. (Other suggestions would be welcome, but I want to stick with LEDs and ideally I want them dimmable.) These are line-voltage lights, and for permanent wiring they offer a little junction box with a standard 1/2" knockout. I think it's meant to mount on the underside of the cabinet. So my question is -- is there any way the electrician can just leave a wire hanging there for me, wired to a wall switch, and still pass inspection? Should I tell him to just screw a normal junction box to the underside of the cabinet, which I'll later remove and replace with the Philips box? Should I have him wire it into a cabinet and then I'd drill through the bottom to get the wires to the lights? Should I just have him wire to the wall switch and no further, and then fish the wire from there myself later? (The obvious alternative -- just plug the lights into a normal outlet -- is not appealing to me for aesthetic reasons, though that is my fallback plan.)

I only want to send this request to the electrician (via the builder) once, so I'd like to ask for something that's possible to do, easy to communicate, and preferrably doesn't make me sound like an idiot. Any assistance in that regard is sorely needed!

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It should be fine to have the wire dangling through a hole. Your electrician should probably know if your local inspector would allow that.

It might be neater to have the wires inside the cabinet. But you'd probably lose some space.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 5:21PM
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Either 120 V cable dangling through a hole, or terminating in a small box in the cabinets (a surface mount single gang should be adequate).

If the lights you are planning on using are rated for direct wire, you can use the box later as a junction box for the lights.
You do have to be careful about what 120 V wring is used from the lights to the junction box, so talk to your electrician and see what the AHJ has allowed.
Some have issues with running typical zip-cord into a box, others do not object as long as adequate strain relief is provided.
Where allowed I have put the in cabinet box on the bottom rear of the cabinet and then had the exiting cord go though a hole in the cabinet bottom to the light fixtures.
Since it is not concealed the AHJ should allow some leeway.
One time I did have to replace the cord with SO, but then put shrink tubing on it to help make it blend in.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 11:55AM
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