Undercabinet Lights - New Addition ( sorry, long-winded)

ladoladiJune 8, 2011

Hi folks:

I apologize if this topic has already been covered, but I'm finding myself too flummoxed by my situation to even begin to talk to (another) electrician before arming myself with some knowledge. I will greatly appreciate any wisdom you can impart.

A little background: I'm in the middle of a full-house remodel. We've added a few home runs and new lights, removed some, changed switches around, etc. We're not completely done yet, but we are stalled at undercabinet lighting. There are 3 areas of undercabinet lighting. One cabinet on each side of the stove, and another cabinet area that is L-shaped.

The problem: When I first consulted with the electrician prior to the safe-off for some of the demo work we had to do, we talked about undercabinet lighting. He asked me if I wanted low-volt or regular. At the time, I didn't realize this would be such a huge issue (my bad), and let myself be guided by him. He said what he mostly installed, because it's what all his customers wanted, was hardwired xenon box lights. Now that I'm looking at all the options available, I really don't like the box. It's a lot bulkier than what I'm seeing online and people posting on the kitchen forum. It is basically a rectangular box about an inch or inch and a half thick that I think is going to be visible from under my cabinets. And we also decided we probably want dimmable undercabinet lights and the box lights can't be dimmed, though they have low-high settings.

My SO's folks wanted to get us a housewarming gift and we told them they could get us undercabinet lights and we explained that we didn't really like the big boxy thing, but weren't sure what to get. They bought us Xenon puck lights because that's what they have and they said they love them.

Well, when the electrician's journeyman (the one doing all the work, really) came by (for something else), he freaked out and got really upset and said that if he'd known those were the lights we were going to want then he wouldn't have run the wires the way he did. I'm not sure what that means... He ran 1 wire to either side of the stove, 2 on the long part of the L, and 1 on the short part of the L, and they all connect to one switch. I don't understand why a different kind of light would affect that fairly simple arrangement of wires. He also said we couldn't even use the Xenon puck lights because the Romex would be exposed and that's a code violation. SO's folks got us some round pans in which to connect the spliced wires from the puck lights to the wires coming out of the wall. They said it was "easy as pie" to do, but the electrician says that's not the right box because of the Romex sticking out and that the right kind of box for that kind of setup would be bigger than we would like.

So, here's my question (finally): Given that we have our undercabinet lights setup to be hardwired, and we prefer Xenon or LED, but dimmable (if possible), as well as something with as little bulk as possible, what kind of undercabinet light should we be looking at? I take it I can't do low-volt at all now, right? We are by no means stuck with the puck lights my SO's folks got us; they can be returned or exchanged, which we might do anyways, since we don't exactly love them either... they are better than the bulky, rectangular box though... but we have no idea if they're dimmable...

Can I still do dimmable? The electrician and his journeyman seemed offended when I said I changed my mind about their lights because I wanted dimmable and pretty much became uncommunicative to the rest of my questions. (At no point did he order lights for me; when he first showed them to me, I said to go ahead and wire as if we were going to use those, but that once the cabinets were up and my granite was installed, I would sit down and figure out what lights I really wanted.)

There's so many lights out there and the electrician only seems to want to tell me what I CAN'T do; I need help figuring out what I CAN do.

Thank you, and I'm sorry I went on so.

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You can do hard-wired LED lights that are dimmable. It could be easier now than low voltage.

If the wiring is already made for hard-wired lighting, that is the direction to go.

Look at the selection at environmentallights.com and polar-ray.com.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:38PM
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Another possibility is the ew profile powercore from Philips.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:11PM
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Thank you, davidtay. I will definitely look at those.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:24PM
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Hi I posted the following message in quotes below on a different post that addressed their 3 options being considered for kitchen lighting. I think it may be of some help to you. I had a young electrician that had never installed hard wired LED but was enthusiastic and willing to learn along with me. I was there during the wiring installation, asking questions. During the light installation after the cabinets were up I again was there watching and questioning. I had done some talking to company reps etc before this project was under way. This early work on my part really helped me.

"... I have the # 3 option, DIOED LED Refract Light Bar on a dimmer the company offers and I love it! The name of their dimmer is Reign, & yes was expensive. I like the Refract Bar because it is over my sink and will be only modestly visible if I look up. I wanted the light to have a finished look and this one is nicely finished for my needs. I got the non-dimmable driver with my system. I am happy with my set up. I also have a separate dimmer for my under cabinet lights and used the Diode LED Cascade Light Bar for these locations, because they are water resistant and dimmable. I went with the warm light option on both styles."

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 3:54PM
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