under cabinet lighting?

tracey_bMay 6, 2010

What's the best choice for under cabinet lighting? I had a fluorescent strip at the last house, which was fine--at least for that house. I usually left this one on after dark until bedtime so we could see our way through the house without turning other lights on/off. I know LED's are efficient, but will they offer enough light to be useful?


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Yes there are some that are.

Following are pics of my newly done kitchen.
First with all lighting on

Only under cab lights

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:45PM
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    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:56PM
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I just installed Juno Trac 12 under our cabinets. It is a 12v system which requires a transformer. They have various fixtures that snap into the track. You can place them anywhere along the track in any numnber as long as you don't exceed the max of the transformer or 240watts on a run. They have Xenon and LED. We picked Xenon. They are on a Lutron Maestro dimmer and they look great. We really like them. I wanted to find an LED solution but I think LED are still a year or so away for me. Many LEDs are not dimmable although more now support dimming. The color to me is still too cool and blue. Our granite will have red tones and we went with the Xenon for the best color reproduction. Yes you can save money on LED power use, but I think 12v Xenon is not that bad especially if you dim them a bit. With the Trac 12, some day when they have better and cheaper LED fixtures I can 'upgrade' with minor changes.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 4:00AM
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Thanks for the pics, David. Mind if I ask what your granite is? That's my next decision (and my cabs will be similar in stain to yours), and I like the darker granites. Just so I know for sure--yours are LED, right?

Thanks, Texas...., for the info on Juno Trac 12; I'll check it out. Xenon, though--doesn't that get hot?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 7:23AM
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Tracey, it's Black Galaxy.

My UC lights are made of 3' and 2' LED strips from environmentallights.

Two reasons why I went with LED
1. Heat output is significantly less than Halogen or Xenon for the amount of light I specified.
2. Extremely low profile - 0.5" or less.

If I were to do it again, I'd still choose LEDs, but get individual components (light strips, transformer) from different vendors.

There are several vendors carrying the exact same type of LED strip as environmentallights.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 11:37AM
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Thanks, David. I love Black Galaxy; hubby not so much so. Granite might become a battle ground :-)

Thanks for the added light info!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 4:11PM
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Black Galaxy wasn't my first choice either.
Initially started with looking at Quartz, then Absolute Black, ...

Anyway, back to lighting.
So long as the in-wall wiring is done correctly with disconnects at the right places, you will be able to swap out low voltage lights very easily.

If you do a search on this forum, you'll find the ebay source for the 12" strips that are identical to those sold by environmentallights.

Those strips are made of led strips cut to 12" lengths and mounted with very thin double sided tape onto aluminum strips. The aluminum strips are necessary as heat sinks and also to provide some level of protection for the strip LED pcbs.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 4:57PM
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Xenon is an incandesent and will be hotter and use more energy than LED. The Trac 12 is a 12v system and I put them on Maestro dimmers (which we love and is a requirement!) so in the evening we can have a soft light in the kitchen when we are done with cooking but don't want a black hole in the kitchen.

Some Xenon and especailly Halogen fixture based lights get very hot. The Trac 12 fixtures are open to the air. They twist and lock into the track. Thier heat is readily released into the air around them. Some heat does go up to the underside of the cabinet but not much. When I put my hand on the inside of the upper cabinets I can barely feel any heat right over top of the bulb. I've read some halogen users state they have melted chocolate chips in their uppers. So I too didn't want that kind of heat.

The 12v Xenon is a compromise to me between wanting something energy efficient, yet true color rendition. I would have prefered LED but like CFLs I can't stand the color rendition. Someday I'm sure they will be better, but for now, and for us, the 12v Xenon was best.

When I get time I plan to post on how to install these since there is little installtion help on the Juno site.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 4:55AM
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I talked with the lighting guy at the store and he was steering me towards the Xenons on a dimmer too. I don't recall if the ones on display at the store are 12v....is that a given or something to be requested?


    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 11:16AM
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No, some Xenon's are 120v, some are 12v. The 12v might be a little more energy efficient than the 120's. You really need a dimmer. I suggest the Lutron Maestro. It is available in different models based on your lights. There is a regualar incandescent which you can buy a Lowes or HD (can't remember which one sells Lutron) and one for Magnetic Low voltage transformers, like the Trac 12, and one for elecgtronic transformers like LED's. but not all LED's are dimmable even with a dimmer attached.

Here is a link that might be useful: Maestro

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 5:30AM
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Thanks Texaskit.... I'll definitely ask more questions about the type of Xenon's the lighting guy and I were talking about the other day before we order. Thanks. And yes, I'm planning on the Maestro dimmer.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 10:44AM
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I bought my Maestro Dimmers from Union Lighting. Order the matching Claro switches and recepticles and GFCI's and cover plates as well. Lowes sells the incandenscent in light almond in both the single and single+companion package at a slightly better price but they don't sell the magnetic or electronic dimmers.

Cooper Wiring's light almond color seems to be an exact match to Lutron and these are also available at Lowes. But I'm anal and ordered all Lutron from Union. The one exception was a double wall switch. I put my dishwasher cut off and garbage disposal on a double wall switch saving one switch in an electric box. Otherewise I would have needed a 4-way box, instead I got away with a 3-way box. Cooper also makes dimmers and the Lt Almond color is stocked at Lowes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dual Switch.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 5:40AM
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Little late to the party but I'll add my $0.02. Not sure what you had for fluorescent in the old house, but I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice not considering it for the new kitchen. My parents have old undercab fluorescents, so I know what you may have experienced (bad light color, buzzing power supplies, flicker, etc).

When we re-did our kitchen, we put in the GE ones that HD sells. You used to see them mentioned on the kitchens board, but I quit reading that a long time ago. These are the linkable, "thinnest" fixtures that use T5 bulbs. Great color, instant turn-on, and all are hardwired to 3-way switches. I replaced the first bulb just the other day (4 years later).

OK, so they aren't dimmable, but I really don't think you need it. Our lights are in 4 groups that act like layers depending on how much light you need- hood, undercab, island pendants, and general overhead cans.

Not to mention that they're a screaming bargain compared to Juno, Kichler, and the like. And negligible heat output, comparatively.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 1:17PM
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Thanks, thull. I haven't finalized my lighting choices yet, and I still hate the thought of the heat generated by the Xenons when I need to have them turned up when actually needing the lighting for tasks.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 4:23PM
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Did you check out the other threads on this forum on led lighting?

I've added the external link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lower priced lights

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 1:27AM
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Hmm.....I didn't know LED was dimmable. Do you know anything about these particular ones? Would they be bright enough for task lighting? I like that they come in a warmer light that what I think of when seeing LEDs.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 12:17PM
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They are identical to those sold by environmentallights.
Yes, they are dimmable.
Yes, they are bright enough for task lighting.
See my earlier posts with pictures on this thread.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 3:16PM
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davidtay! Could you please provide more details on the components/manufacturers you'd purchase? I need to come up with an UCL plan asap and would love a 'shortcut.' I coudln't find the ebay source for the light site you provided. Any idea on that?



    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 8:56PM
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The first thing to do is to measure the amount of flat space under your cabinets. Typically, people expect to have lights on the full length of the cabinets' underside. Looks nicer too. I learnt this at a local lighting store.

You'll also need to figure out the various lengths of the light bars necessary.

Assuming low voltage lighting (12V - 24V DC)
The next thing is to plan out and put in the in-wall low voltage wiring. This is probably the most important part of the system.

At this point, you'll have a good idea of how many light bars you need, length of wire and total power necessary.

Plan where you'll want the transformer(s) - it (they) typically must be in an accessible location - eg some cabinet, attic, crawl space.

The transformer(s) will need to be wired to the standard AC current + control(s). Most likely, you need to have "magnetic" dimmers.

Parts list
1. In wall wiring - Ideal brand low voltage wiring (from HD or Lowes).
2. Ideal Plug disconnects (from HD or Lowes).
3. Lights - depends on how much light you want, total length of cabinets.
4. Transformer(s) - depends on cummulative consumption + 15% margin.
5. Inter-connect wiring.

Following is the ebay link

For the transformer, I'd probably get it from environmentallights.com

E-mail me if you have more questions.


Here is a link that might be useful: environmental lights

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:59PM
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Wow! I spent all evening reading and measuring. I knew nothing a few short hours ago. I do have an electrician coming, and a general contractor, but I'm trying to avoid their 'canned' options (hot halogen pucks mounted center and semi-flushed into plywood)and save some money by figuring this out myself and having the parts here so there are no delay excuses. Here's what I typed up before I saw that you responded:

I need to purchase my UCL and would like to try out lightbars from ebay and then get misc parts from environmental lights and HD. I need task lighting over the sink and ambient lighting for the rest of the UCL. The sink light will be on its own dimmer and all the others will be connected to a second dimmer power supply. These will be mounted with flat brackets right behind the front cab rail.

Here is the list of cabinets I have for my uppers with the LED lengths IÂm planning next to each:
18" cab  11.8" (30cm) LED
36" cab over sink 23.6" (90cm) LED x 2
18" Â 11.8" LED
18" Â 11.8" LED
12" Â 5.9" (15cm) ? ItÂs on a blind corner so I could do the 11.8 and put some light into the corner.
15" - Â 11.8" LED

IÂll need the lights, mounting brackets, connectors, enough cable to connect the lights to each other and power supplies and switches, a jumper for the double sink lights, 2 dimming power supplies, 2 magentic dimmer switches. WeÂll put the power supplies in the attic near our exhaust fan ductwork so it can cool off.

Is that it? Am I on the right track? Should I go with 15cm instead of 30cm for the ambient lighting to save money? Can I use the same dimming power supply and just have two dimmers?

I designed our basement low-voltage halogens (we need the heat down there!) and remember the math project of figuring out wattage, length from transformers, wire gauge, install patterns and lighting zones, and my electrician was impressed and only supplied a better dimming system. This seems easier than that, but I'm rushing this (early June install), so I'm very thankful for the assistance.

I thought posting my plan here might help someone else, but feel free to email jem199@hotmail.com if you think that's more appropriate. Sorry to hijack this thread!


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 12:42AM
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Looks like it.

It looks like you would be able to make do with the 100 watt transformer from environmentallights.com for the rest of the lighting.

A separate transformer (dimming power supply) would be necessary to keep the sink lighting on its own circuit.

The longer bars are cheaper @ environmentallights.

Get the shorter interconnect wires.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 1:39AM
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Davidtay - what kind of lighting did you use under cabinet - and what kind of vent hood is that? Very nice. Thanks

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 11:26PM
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Low voltage LED from environmentallights.com
Hood is Fujioh

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 12:32AM
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In David's photos it appears to have a lot of light bouncing off the back wall.

  1. How far from the wall (or front edge) did you mount the under cabinet lighting?
  2. Did you mount the lighting at an angle?

I have a similar setup to David's (LED) and I am staring to mount the lighting, wiring is all done and ready. I could go trial and error but a few pointers would be appreciated.

This post was edited by Skidkid on Sat, Jun 15, 13 at 16:27

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 4:20PM
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OK, I went with 1" back from the front edge of the cabinet and the light bars are tipped at approximately 15 degrees. Looks great.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Sorry for the late response. No, the lights are not mounted at an angle as the spread is 120 degrees and the backsplash is sufficiently reflective.
~ 1.5" from the cabinet front edge.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 1:34AM
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I put in LED light bars on dimmers - love them. I initially installed to close to the front trim and had shadows but Sparky fixed the problem and now they are great. Same as DavidTay's.
They are not mounted at an angle - but some need to be at angles.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Thanks guys. I will post a picture, hopefully later this evening.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:42PM
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Here is a photo of the side counter with the under cabinet lights at full on. They dim smoothly and overall they look great. Obviously still need to tie up the wires.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 11:40AM
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