undercabinet rough wiring cost - is this normal?

threeberriesNovember 28, 2012

My builder's electrician is asking for $720 to do rough wiring for undercabinet lighting. I have about 10 linear feet of cabinets which would require 4 drops (I think). I'm not familiar with how much this would normally cost and can't find any guidelines online, but $720 seems like a lot of money for 4 wires.

The electrician is pretty rude to me and refuses to answer any questions, saying I have to go through my builder (which has previously resulted in miscommunication). The $720 quote came with no information about what that includes. In a previous conversation the electrician didn't understand when I asked about continuous lighting and also guessed at 5-7 drops without having my floor plans with him, when a lighting person and our builder thought we'd need four. Again I can't talk to the electrician so don't know what he is intending.

I have to decide today if I want to go ahead with it. I want the undercabinet lighting but don't want to pay a lot more than I should be paying.

Thanks for any quick help!

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It shouldn't cost that much. If you want light bars joined end to end, the number of drops could be determined by the cabinet groups.

For example, if you have 3 separate cabinet runs, with a light bar system such as the eW Profile, you need only 3 drops.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:22PM
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Thanks Davidtay for your response. My gut feel was that this price was high so it's helpful to know your thoughts. I forgot to mention that this is for new construction so there weren't any walls yet, so it's even easier.

Since the electrician refused to talk to me (he even told me that directly the last time I called him), I was forced to do a bunch of research on my own to come back to him with instructions on what to do wiring-wise. And I had to send all messages through my builder, so he's passing emails back and forth between the two of us because the electrician wouldn't email me back directly. (Kind of ridiculous.) That caused enough delay that by the time we almost had things ironed out the walls were going up and it was too late. To this the electrician said "Your emergency is not my problem, you should have planned better". I've never dealt with a ruder person; and to think that I'm paying him thousands of dollars to wire and light my house. Ugh. So, walls are up and now we're stuck. We have to move in and install undercabinet after the fact, tearing into the walls. I hope that's not going to be way more expensive or create unpleasant damage.

Anyway, I'm just venting. Thanks for your answer.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 9:52PM
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Only keyhole sized holes have to be made at the appropriate places and wire fished up the wall cavity and connected to the appropriate circuits.

Less convenient than having open walls to work with, but still doable.

Electricians do this regularly.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:25PM
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While there are some 'outs' for low voltage wiring it is still a real PITA since it only applies to power limited low voltage.

Any 120 V wiring in the walls has to be an 'approved method' for concealed use in walls.

The biggest cost driver is how many times you must feed 120 V to the under cabinet lighting.

There are some tricks you can use, like putting receptacles inside the cabinets and running the wires through the bottom of the cabinet and then to the lights.

You get a lot of relief since the low voltage wiring is no longer considered concealed or permanent (it plug in).

You can often even get away with limited 120 V zip-cord from an in cabinet receptacle to under cabinet lights.

You just cannot hard wire the lights with no receptacle.

The NEC is pretty far behind on under cabinet lighting, so a lot of effort is spent trying to make it fit into the code.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 1:43PM
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