Undercabinet Lightening 101

sophie123May 17, 2011

I have a new kitchen going in and need to specify the undercabinet lighting so that the electrician can wire for it.

I've been reading for a while and got a quote on Juno LED undercabinet lighting. Wow that seemed expensive to me. $2000! I'm very confused on voltage which is what my GC keeps asking me what i'm going to want for undercabinet lighting.

What i wanted is undercabinet lighting - LED - that was at least switchable from a low to a high setting if not dimmable. It would be direct wired in and overall controlled by a switch. I wanted LED because it seemed nicer light than flourescent and cooler than halogen but i am open to flourescent.

I have the following lengths of wall cabinets to be lighted:

75.5" (2 cabinets)




with 1 1/4" gap underneath

Any suggestions? I have a budget of $1000 for one over the table light, 2 wall lights, and undercabinet lighting so trying to keep it reasonable.

thanks for any points or guidance!

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Following are the common voltage options
a. line voltage - 120V (for America and a few other places on the planet) or 240 V for the rest.
b. 24V DC
c. 12V DC

There is the LED UCL DIY thread on this forum which should be helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: LED UCL DIY

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 4:05PM
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Thank you for your help! I think i can now at least have an intelligent conversation with the electrician on what needs to be done.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:43AM
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I just went through this.

First and foremost, the important thing to know is you CANNOT run low voltage wiring concealed in a wall like you would regular 'NM' or 'Romex' wiring for lighting.

It is simply not rated for in wall use and is a violation of code, which when you have a fire, your insurance company will love to find ;)

So for the electrical work, regardless of 120v line voltage, 12v or 24v low voltage, if you need to run wiring in walls, you need to use NM wire sized for the load.

If you're considering LED, which you should, I think standard 14/2 wiring would carry enough 'ampacity' for a reasonable number of LED's given their very low wattage compared to xenon or halogen.

This wiring becomes an issue if you need to bridge gaps in your cabinets, say over a sink or your range.

Here's what I did for my setup. I'm running 2 switched sets of lights (dimmable LED's actually) of 10 fixtures each. One in the upper glass cabinets and one set of under cabinet lights.

From the two dimmers, I ran 14/2 wiring through the wall to the cabinet over my range hood. Then from there, I ran 14/2 wiring in the walls to each of the sections of cabinets I needed power to for lighting.

From those points, I can transition to low voltage wiring which will run under the cabinets and over the cabinets for the respective LED pucks. The transition is simply a pig-tailed wire-nut connection, accessible by pulling the LED fixture out of the hole (leave enough wire to pull the connection down through the hole).

I did all this because a) I needed to run wiring in-wall to get from point-a to b and b) I wasn't sure if I was going low voltage or line voltage. Using standard 14/2 wiring meant I could do either.

The LED drivers will live in the cabinet above the range, junctioned properly and accessible as all junction boxes must be in your house.

BTW - best deal I found on LED lighting from a company that knows what they're doing was from LED Lights Canada (I'm in Toronto, they're in Edmonton). About $25 per fixture, which is 1/2 or less than any competitive setup and it's all cUL rated etc. etc.

Once my stuff is all in I'll post up some pics - the cabinets arrived today and are in the process of being installed.

Cheap American Lighting line-voltage Xenon pucks would have been the cheapest easiest option at about $15 each. Lowes has some for $10 each in Halogen I think. But, the heat off these is monstrous, the bulbs burn out etc. So my setup cost $700 vs $200 for 20 lights, but well worth the extra cost.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 9:07PM
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Thanks so much for your post and sharing your experience. I just got a quote from Environmental lighting and it was over $1000 for about 11' of UCL. But it was line voltage 120v (pro kichler) vs low voltage. Did you consider that? It was LED and dimmable. He said it was new product.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 10:46PM
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