led ucl continuation

DavidDecember 3, 2011

Since there is quite a bit of continued discussion on LED UCL, continuation of jem199's LED UCL DIY


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

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The 2 main options
1. Direct wire 120V AC
2. Low voltage (24V or 12V DC).

Low Voltage UCL characteristics
a. The low voltage option requires a separate transformer.
b. The lights have typically lower profiles than the direct wire equivalents.
c. The bars may be cuttable unlike direct wire equivalents. This is true when low voltage LED tape lights are used.
d. The required dimmer will depend on the transformer used. If a magnetic transformer is used the dimmer needs to be a magnetic low voltage (MLV) dimmer. In small installations, a rheostatic dimmer may be used/ deployed. However, such dimmers do not save energy.
e. Most installations will be 60W or less for practical reasons.
f. The cost of the transformer(s) must be accounted for as it is typically a significant item.
g. The dimming load is (are) the transformer(s).
h. There are many vendors and a great variation in product quality and abilities (e.g. - flexibility, color rendition index or CRI, output, dimmability, wiring constraints - most are not forgiving of wiring mistakes)
i. Choices available - LED tape, bars, panels.

Direct wire UCL characteristics
a. The height is ~ 1 inch. The Philips eW profile bars are 0.88" tall, but the optional junction box could be an unwelcomed protrusion.
b. The light output could be greater than low voltage LED tape lights.
c. The dimmer for the Philips eW bars will have to be of the electronic low voltage (ELV) variant.
d. Longer runs may be possible than with the low voltage equivalents.

Common to both options
a. Having flat bottomed cabinets without intervening fences is a great advantage as you will be able to form continuous sections of illumination.
b. Separate sections of light bars should be wired in parallel so that problems in one section do not affect other sections. Consider the transformer as a simple junction box for direct wire configurations. Each section will be AC in the direct wire configuration (using romex 14/2 or 12/2)

c. There could be interesting shadow zones depending on the relative position of the bars. This typically happens in corners where the light bars should be placed perpendicular to one another rather than on the hypothenuse. There could be a shadow zone between bars that have a significant spacing between the ends.
d. If the light bars / beads of light are not to be seen reflected off the countertop, the light output should be directed towards the backsplash. An alternative could be to use edge lit light panels which really is the equivalent of aiming the light at something other than the countertop.

Hope there's enough food for thought.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 1:38AM
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Thank you Davidtay for such great information.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:50PM
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All I can say is WOW! Thanks so much Davidtay - you just made my whole night with this information. I have been scouring lighting sites & a few stores all day today trying to decide on UCL. Any thoughts on above cabinet lighting? Am I right in assuming the same product will work equally well above as below?

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:31PM
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Probably the same products would work.
I would consider using higher output lighting for above cabinet lighting since it is the equivalent of cove lighting.

The answer depends on the distance to the ceiling/ closest main reflecting surface and the amount of space to hold the light bar. If the distance is too close, the output should be lower.

If the above cabinet lighting is just for accenting some architectural features, the output from low voltage strips would suffice.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 11:49PM
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The most important task to prepare for a continuous LED UCL install is to figure out how to fit the longest run of lights end to end under the cabinets.

If the cabinets have intervening fences/ stiles, it may be difficult (or impossible) to form a continuous led section. Notching the cabinets is difficult once they are installed.

Corners should have the bars fitted perpendicular to each other to avoid interesting shadow zones.

The next is to decide whether to use direct wire or low voltage. This is more a logistical/ financial than technical issue as it requires selecting possible candidates and pricing out all the components involved in setting up the system.

Low voltage
If the sections are too far from the DC power supply (usually misnamed transformers) and/ or power requirement for the section too significant, additional DC power supplies may be necessary.

A thicker gauge wire may also be necessary. Many sites have a calculator for figuring out the wire gauge for a given power draw.

The cost of the transformer could be a significant component of the system which could result in the low voltage system costing more than equivalent direct wire systems

Direct Wire
eW profile is supposed to be good for up to a section as long as 50ft.
Direct wire lights are probably easier setup for installs with multiple long sections to be controlled from a single switch since there is no need to compute the wire gauge to compensate for DC voltage drop and figure out the correct power supplies.

Some reasons to use direct wire
1. High output desired for multiple sections spread out over a large area/ where low voltage equivalents could become too expensive.
2. No desire to deal with low voltage calculation, DC power supplies which need to be located in an accessible location. Or greater familiarity with AC devices.
3. Possibly better component quality (more likely for Philips eW profile) and CRI.

Reasons to use low voltage
1. Lower output. Low voltage bars have smaller conductors and/ or heat sinking that would limit the ability to drive/ over drive the LED emitters. This differentiating factor is likely to become less important as the LED emitters become more efficient.
2. Small enough install where the costs between Low voltage and Direct wire (AC) are not too dissimilar.
3. Requirement for low profile (~ 0.5")
4. Exact fit requirements, curved surfaces - low voltage tape can be cut, some bars may also be modified.
5. More vendors, more options.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 1:21AM
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The thread that just won't die ;) I've been here for a few years, and am feeling pressure to get undercabinet lighting into my kitchen before it's time to tear it out and do it over again! The good news is that LED prices continue a downward trend thanks to my procrastination!

Anyways - I'm a DIY'er. Needs/Constraints are:
(1) My cabinets are frameless, thus their bottoms are flush with the doors. This has highly influenced my implementation. I'm not opposed to putting up a small molding if need be, but wouldn't mind avoiding if possible. So thin is important, as well as hiding everything.
(2) Cost: Do not desire to spend $1k on lighting, so highly specialized suppliers are not an option - especially when I can find the same lights elsewhere for significantly less - of course I lose the specialized help.
(3) Dimmable: a 12 or 24V system, dimmable power supply, will put a magnetic switch in the wall (two switches, two separate run/circuits, one long, one short run across the kitchen).
(4) Would like to tile the walls in the next week (have a granite backsplash), so I do want to prep for my wallswitch, wires for my main run here quickly.

(a) Aluminum Light Bars: Common design I've seen from major or small suppliers, eBay direct from Taiwan, etc, 3/4" wide, a little less than 1/2" deep to protrude below the cabinet. Interconnects connect bars, etc. My long run (with 2 interior cabinets) is 300cm, 45W.

(b) PCB Flexible Strips: This option gets me very low profile, could get waterproof to help protect, diffuse the light slightly, options on how many LED's. In some ways, this is an inexpensive option that could easily be updated in the future if other low profile aluminum housing options appear and/or drop in price. My wires are in place, PCB installed with 3M tape.

This option has me considering putting a run on top of my cabinets - would make very nice mood lighting - but I don't really want to put another dimmable power supply in just for this - could look to use the "cheap power" options maybe for this secondary run - i.e. cheap 12/24 power supplies - but maybe reaching too far, after all I don't need to make this more complicated.

(c) Flush Mount Aluminum Housing w/PCB Strips and diffuser: This one really interests me, as it presents a rather finished look. Of course it may require me to remove some cabinet and/or run the router upside down (Ikea cabines, so they can come down if needed). It does require a 0.2" depth in the 3/4" cabinet bottom (which I'll make sure is doable before I destroy my cabinets!). My minor concern here is how the PCB mounted in the channel with diffuser will light my countertops (which BTW are a dark granite, so I'm expecting reflections). This would be a rather slick and finished looking design - of course more cost for the aluminum channels. Superbright LED's sells them for $25/100cm for the channel plus diffuser (clear or frosted?), nevermind, these are actually quite cheap!

Guess I'm just looking for David's (or other's) quick comments or thoughts on my options. My biggest quick decision is to put some wires in the wall in preparation. The open issue is gauge from the dimmable power supply to the start of my 300cm main run/circuit. Basically 2 areas separated by the stove, with two cabinet interiors mixed in. All to run off the single switch/dimmer. As I mentioned, I know it's a 45W requirement for the aluminum strips - haven't calculated for the PCB option (but will do that next).


Here is a link that might be useful: B3775: Flush Mount Aluminum LED Profile Housing

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 4:58PM
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Oh, I should have mentioned potentially using aluminum "L" channel/bracket to create a small valance on the front of my cabinets for use with the PCB LED option. It actually is a very attractive option as shown in the linked post on Ikeafans. It does hold a little more appeal than taking my cabinets back off the wall to route a channel into the cabinet bottoms.... I think.

Here is a link that might be useful: IkeaFans forums - aluminum valance on cabinets

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 5:40PM
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WAC has nice stick on LED lighting, which to me is more appropriate for accent or mood rather than task lighting.

Measure off the wire needed - use string to estimate the lengths of each run. The environmental lights web site has a nice calculator to help figure out the gauge needed.

The power draw and wire gauge will be affected by the lights you install, length and distance from the power supply.

More power supplies could be used if necessary. Some folks managed to buy the Magnitude branded power supplies.

All of the power supplies need to be accessible.

There will be stuff on the counter top to detract from the line of light/ beads of light reflected off the countertop. Alternatively, mount the light bars so that they shine onto the backsplash (assuming a highly non-reflective backsplash). That will be an implementation of indirect lighting, so the lighting output would have to increase.

Using a router on the underside of an installed cabinet could be difficult and challenging. Uninstalling the cabinets and routing them on a bench would be more practical.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 5:45PM
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120V direct wire solutions can be easily changed from one type of direct wire lights to another (e.g. - T5/ T4 fluorescent, halogen, xenon to LED) .

Low voltage lights are somewhat tricker.
1. Need to know the existing power draw of all the lights.
2. Voltage used - 12V or 24V.
3. Power supply - 40W, 60W,...?
4. New needs such as dimming.
5. Power draw of replacement lights.
6. Wire gauge used for existing install.
7. Length of wire sections.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 8:11PM
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davidtay, your posts on UCL and on LED recessed lights are extremely helpful as I plan for a kitchen remodel. Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:41AM
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Sorry to be late to the party but here's a simple questions but has me quite perplexed. My contractor who remodeled my kitchen 11 years ago insisted on fluorescent lights--I hate them and refuse to turn them on. I want something warmer, don't care about low voltage--is there an easy solution to change them? They are direct wire on a switch.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 9:56PM
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Direct wire solutions such as
MaxLite or the Philips eW Profile bars come to mind.

If given a choice, I'd pick the Philips eW Profile.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Thanks for the reply. Is this a DIY or would I likely need an electrician? All the direct wiring is there, can I just change the fixture?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 12:35AM
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Yes, it could be a DIY job if you're comfortable changing out the fixture.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 12:44AM
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Should I get the 2700 if I want it warm, close to incandescent? Is it just a matter of changing the fixture? Any suggestions of where to purchase?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 12:50AM
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Yes. 2700k would be the optimal. You may want to shop on-line.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 1:41AM
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I do not understand electricity, wiring, or lighting. It's the one thing in my house renovation that I just cannot wrap my head around. The language barrier with my electrician is not helping. I've been reading this forum and only becoming more confused. I'd like to ask what I think is just a simple question.

Kitchen was gutted for the renovation. Told electrician I wanted UCL, but at the time, had no idea what kind I wanted, other than direct-wired and dimmable. He could offer no advice or suggestions. He did the wiring for 5 lights on 2 walls, all controlled by 3 switches on different sides of the room.

I purchased the Ancona LED lights from Costco (link below). He installed these for me with the basic Lutron Maestro dimmers that he used for other lights in my house. These dimmers do not work with these lights.

Do we just have the wrong dimmer? Do we also need a transformer? If so, am I looking at a lot more expense and opening up walls?

The alternative is to just use regular switches and have the ability to individually control each light bar with the on-low-high switch on the bar. Now that I have them installed, dimming might not be as important to me as I thought it would be -- especially if it would require 3 more expensive dimmers and a transformer.

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

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 3:40PM
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No, according to the description, the lights do not require a separate transformer as they are intended to be directly wired to a 120V AC line.

The fixture is probably not dimmable given that it has a hi/lo/off switch.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Ahh... that's what I wondered. Wasn't sure how to determine whether a fixture was dimmable, and what you say makes a lot of sense. Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 8:15PM
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There is a game changer from tech lighting.
Some characteristics
1. Direct wire,
2. Implements remote phosphor.
3. Very high output.
4. Custom lengths?

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

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 11:47PM
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At almost $10 per inch it better be worth it.

It will never pay back the cost on energy.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I need three different runs for ribbon light. Two are under 30" and one is 72". I want to use a single magnetic transformer with a AC wall switch dimmer. Is this possible? How do I split the two DC leads out of the transformer for the three runs to the ribbon runs?


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:12PM
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You could tie the 2 shorter ones to one lead and the long run to the other.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 11:21PM
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Assuming that you have 2 sets of leads (4 wires)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 12:09AM
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Anyone know if Lutron's CL dimmers (eg. Diva DVCL-153P) work with both magnetic and electronic led drivers? They call the technology of the dimmer "HED" high efficacy dimming. Sounds nebulous, but the Lutron tech with whom we spoke could tell us nothing more. He just did not know anything more. My husband, who really is a professor of electrical engineering - nanotechnology, thought it's probably some solid state circuitry. Wouldn't that mean electronic? If so, why don't they just say electronic????

I'm thinking to go with the direct wire product, so maybe it's irrelevant for me. Davidtay seems to really like the phillips eW. Maybe go with that.

Thanks for the reference to the UniLume product, David. Looks like the same technology as in the 60W replacement bulb from Phillips.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Argh... UniLume requires a splice box. I just want to stuff my romex directly into the fixture.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:33PM
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The DVCL-153P does not work with magnetic power supplies. Get the ELV dimmer for the Philips eW profile.

Both the eW profile and UniLume require splice boxes.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Thank you for the info, David.

Why do you like the eW Profile better than the MaxLite direct wire solution?

Do you know any more about "HED" dimming technology from Lutron?

I see that the MaxLite actually recommends the Lutron DVCL-153P. What does that say about the integral power supply type they use? Is it electronic, magnetic, or something else?

I deduce from your comment that Philips eW Profile uses magnetic power supply? Hmm... but Philips recommends the ELV dimmer. Are ELV dimmers compatible to both electronic and magnetic power supplies? What about MLV dimmers? Or is it just NOT that simple?

These compatibility questions have dogged me for months. What type of dimmer technology is compatible to what type of drivers and why. Can anyone point me to a good online technical explanation?

Kind Regards-

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:31PM
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The max lite has a lower output than the Philips. The eW Profile is a nicely designed solution.

The eW profile requires an elv dimmer. Most low voltage Ucl use magnetic power supplies and require magnetic low voltage dimmers.

Electronic power supplies need elv dimmers. You cannot mix and match
Most Elv dimmers work well with led.

Lutron has a nice write up

Here is a link that might be useful: Dimmer Ed

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:06PM
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davidtay: After reading about your thoughts on the Philips eW Profile LED UCL, I was looking into it, but now I've seen your entry for the UniLume UCL. I have a few questions, if you don't mind. Does the Philips eW suffer from some of the drawbacks that the UniLume says it addresses? Have you seen the UniLume in person to compare it with the Philips eW? I'd be interested in your thoughts not only about performance differences but also sense of "build quality." Lastly, what's the cost comparison between the Philips eW and the UniLume? Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Starting from the cost perspective, the UniLume should cost ~ $170 for a 19" strip while a 21" eW profile is ~ $110+. The eW profile might require the use of install tracks to ensure that everything lines up in a straight line which will add some cost.

No, I've not seen the UniLume in person.

The drawbacks that UniLume addresses are primarily
1. Little glaring beads of light.
2. Multiple light sources casting multiple shadows. This effect may not always be noticeable. There are festoon light solutions for UCL which work just fine. Some have also used rope lighting without noticing the multiple shadow issue.

The first problem is very noticeable when high output LEDs are run at/ near max output over a very reflective surface.
Work arounds for both issues are -
a. Use a diffusing lens (eg - eW profile, Talea-HP )
b. Position the LEDs to indirectly light the counter top (typically the most reflective surface).

The last issue UniLume claims to solve is the limited light spread of LEDs which might be true for some LED strips, but not so for the Talea-HP, eW profile or the phonier LED bars.
From a purely technical perspective the UniLume should be a game changer, but cost considerations may eliminate it as a practical solution.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Thanks so much, davidtay.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:41PM
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I see some very cheap ($1-$2 / foot) LED strips on Amazon. Anyone have experience with those?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Specifically, has anyone used the led strips from ledwholesalers.com with the "Dimmable LED DC Magnetic Transformer"? I suspect that this transformer is pretty much (exactly) like the Magnitude, Inc "dc" LED transformer, which seems to be full wave rectified AC, not a steady 12V DC regulator.

Since it is a transformer, the dimming can be done on the 120V side, which will be more convenient for my installation (I think). I'll be using multiple transformers from the same 120V regulator, to handle total power requirements.

Here is a link that might be useful: Supply for strip LED

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 9:54PM
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Some have used the 24V DC version of the Magnitude "transformer" which is really a power supply.

Quite a number of low voltage installs using the environmental lights/ superbrightleds/ nora lighting/ Photonier strips (24V DC) use similar power supplies and a MLV dimmer. Others have used 12V DC.

It might be more convenient to source all the parts from 1 supplier.

The original thread (of which this is a continuation) was started with those strips in mind (even though a number of principles are universal).

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:30AM
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I've read this thread several times and still a little confused -

I am doing a new build. I have (2) 36" uppers on one well separated by the range/hood. I have a 27" cabinet and an 18" cabinet on the other wall separated by the sink which will have a recessed light.

I looked at the Philips ew lights but they only come in 9", 19", and 39" so I wouldn't have a good fit for my 36" cabinets.

I saw these from Costco mentioned earlier. I guess I could do (2) 14" bars per 36" space. I don't really care if they are dimmable or not.

But I'm completely unable to really tell if this will work or not...???

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 7:30PM
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forgot the link

Here is a link that might be useful: costco led ucl

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 7:31PM
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The eW profile bars can be mixed e.g. - 9 + 19 or bars with spaces in between - 9 + 9 + 9.

The main point is whether the bars will produce enough light. Using a measure such as lumens (for example) instead of measuring the light output by watts would be a better means of determining whether the lights would be usable.

Environmentallights and other websites do have charts that help illustrate the light output with distance and illumination angle.

If you expect to use the UCL alone without any other light sources, the bars should be capable of producing > 200 lumens per ft (very rough guess without bothering about distances).

With the UniLume (~ 600 lumens per ft), you'd most likely have them dimmed.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:02PM
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bumping to top

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Davidtay or anyone else,

I'm redoing my kitchen and we want to do some dimmable UCLs.. We picked up "5 Meter Reel Warm White 2700k Flexible LED Ribbon 300 Leds 16 Ft by LEDwholesalers, 2026ww-27k" from Amazon (link below).. we also bought a "LED Driver", it's the BG-30W-12V as pictured on http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/567794631/12V_2_5A_Led_driver_30W.html.

I'd like to know what we need (in addition to or instead of) in order to make these LEDs dimmable with a normal Lutron or Leviton dimmable wall switch (like the Leviton TGI06-1LB Dimmer Incandescent Single-Pole/3-Way 600W 120 Volt)..

I've read on gardenweb about needing a REAL transformer and then you can wire the power to the wall switch/dimmer, then to the transformer, and then to the LED tape.. that would be ideal; but I don't know what to get as the transformer.

I suspect we have the wrong stuff.. that's okay.. there's still time to get the right stuff...

My contractor is going down the path of getting a low voltage dimming interface (ELV-1000 from http://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/031202b.pdf) and a dimmer switch (TGCL-153PH-WH - http://www.amazon.com/Lutron-TGCL-153PH-WH-Toggler-Single-Pole-Toggle/dp/B0052EC160). Is this the right path? Is there a better way that doesn't involve the "interface", etc?

Thanks so much!

Here is a link that might be useful: 5 Meter Reel Warm White 2700k Flexible LED Ribbon 300 Leds 16 Ft by LEDwholesalers, 2026ww-27k

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 6:47PM
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Get the power supply from your led reseller. If you get a magnetic power supply, you need to use a MLV dimmer. The original thread has more info.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 6:56PM
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There's a new driverless LED strip on the market (see link below), and it looks like a game changer -- especially for retrofitting hardwired UCL installations. No transformer is required; it has a small inline rectifier that converts the AC to high voltage DC, then drives the LED strip through what I assume is a voltage divider built into the strip itself. Currently only available in lengths that are a multiple of 20", but they are apparently working on offering more length options.

I bought one as a test/sample, and was really impressed. I got the "warm white" which they claim is 3100K. It matched extremely well with other incandescent lighting in my kitchen. Using a standard dimmer, it would only go down to about 50% brightness, but after switching to a Lutron CL dimmer, I was able to take it much lower (I'd guess in the 15% range). The lip below my upper cabinets is only 3/4", and these are completely invisible at any typical eye level.

The only thing that might be a problem is that the LED strip comes encased in a silicone shield, obviously for safety since higher voltages are involved. This also makes it suitable for wet locations. The downside however is that this makes it too big to fit in standard strip channels, so if you have highly polished countertops and need a diffuser strip you'll have to get a bit creative.

All in all an impressive product though. I'm looking forward to seeing more products like this come out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Driverless LED Strips

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:37PM
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This is over my head no matter how many times I read it, but I think you are all saying direct wired seems to be the longest lasting product.

I need led accent lights in my highest cabinets that have glass doors. The cabinets are separate pieces. How do I start on the left with the led lights, go through side walls of cabinets (x3 cabinets) then hop over to the sink (no upper cabinets at all) and continue led lights for 3 more upper cabinets? So there is a 48" gap where there are no uppers. Will this have to be 2 separate lights? I just want them as accent lights. We are putting antique dishes up there to show them off. Could also be used as a night light, but we do not want hot lights like xenon or halogen.

Then we also need bright undercabinet lights. About 24" on left side of sink then 48" sink/window then continues with 20" of lights, then 42"vent hood, then another 20" of lights. So will I need separate lights for each undercabinet area? 3 switches?

Don't want low voltage or puck lights. Any suggestions? Am I stuck with fluorescent? Thanks,


    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 6:59PM
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Peke, is this a remodel? Can you wire in the walls?

If not, your options are limited.

I will be posting my final design in mid to late March once I've got mine installed and working! David Tay was a big help.

I think low voltage tape LEDs are the best for both situations. But you do need in wall power for best setup.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Direct wire lights may be the best route for most people installing UCL as
1. It is easier to deal with as there is no need to calculate the wire gauge, etc
2. The light output is usually greater.
3. There is no separate transformer/ power supply that has to be located in an accessible place.
4. Lighting is usually the last item people tackle in kitchens and they have little energy left.

Measure out the clearances you have first. Fluorescent (t4 or t5) may turn out to be too bulky. You may need to use a solution like that sold by Phantom Lighting.

Yes, the lights will have to be separate. They may be joined in parallel to a 3 (or more) way controlling switch setup.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 9:37PM
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hi all,
we have two upper cabinets - 47" and 34" long, where the UCL will be installed. Currently cabinets have Romex wires coming from the wall right underneath and connected to the switch. This was done when walls were open. Our cabinets also don't have any dividers underneath. We are now trying to decide which UCL lights to go with - davidtay's input on Phillpis eW profile was very valuable and we liked the lights. It is also expensive! Question is - for 47" long space, can (or even should) we get one 41" long fixture or three 11" fitures connected. Will leaving 3-4 inches on the side of the cabinet create weird shadow zones or is it ok? The same applies to the other cabinet - we can't have one straight run and need to assemble from 11"-21" pieces. With the dimensions we have we can't have 100 coverage but do we need it? is there a rule on that? Also, jumpers that are 6" long - can we introduce spaces between 11" fixtures to space them out?
The driverless LED Strips post by spacedog looks very intriguing since there is no bulky junction box to deal with and it is dimmable, and also more affordable than eW profile. Do you guys have opinions on this new product yet? thanks

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:13PM
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You don't need to have the light bars arranged in a straight line (for example W or V may be used).
100% coverage is nice, but there are installs which only light up specific portions Get some ideas from your local lighting show rooms.

A splice box will be required to connect the romex coming out of your walls to the wiring connected to the light bars/ strips.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:37PM
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thanks, davidtay. there is a lighting wholesale distributor near where i work, i will check them out.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:55PM
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Re: Driverless LED Strips

As stated, a new and less complicated alternative for kitchen direct wire LED integration in under cabinet lighting.

Certificates CE, RoHS European import

Wonder about safety issues of product as so new. No Underwriters Laboratories seal since new and imported.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 10:15PM
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Yes, it is a remodel. The old cabinets and sheetrock is gone so we can run a direct wire which is what I prefer. I looked at Emeralight but it said something about needing a driver. Now I am totally lost. Are these direct wired?

Thanks David...so would I have 4 separate switches to control the lights? One for upper left cabinet inside glass and one for right side. Then one for under left cabinet and one for right side. Is there any way to have all inside cabinet lights (behind glass doors and separated by a sink with no uppers) on one switch? What about the undercabinet lights on one switch? (separated by 48" sink area) (Sorry...you lost me on 3-way and parallel.) LOL

I looked at Phantom Lighting website, but couldn't figure out which one I needed.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 9:48AM
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The light you looked at are low voltage bars.

The lighting can be controlled with one or two switches (3 way setup)

Wireless switches utilizing enOcean technology can be used to create multi-way switching setups.

I will post a diagram for the 3way and parallel setup later

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:57PM
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I guess I just don't know what to buy for direct wired LED. Do I buy the same light for the upper glass cabinets as for the undercabinet lights? If I buy the right lights my electrician will figure out the wiring I guess. I just don't want to buy the wrong ones. Sheetrock is going up soon so I need to get something ordered. Who knew lights could halt my kitchen remodel! Thanks,

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Questions to answer
1. What look would you be aiming for for the upper cabinets? - Concealed lights or a puck on the top?

If you prefer concealed lighting, you'd need to figure out if you can hide strips like the MaxLite or eW Profile (for direct wire).

Otherwise, you'd have to work with low voltage lighting like the PhantomLighting setup or some other low profile led tape/ bar setup.

If centrally located string of pucks in each cabinet is acceptable, you need to use low voltage lighting.

Assuming that low voltage is necessary for the uppers, you need to figure out where the driver will reside (it has to be accessible) and a separate switch location to control the cabinet lighting.

2. Would controlling the lights in the upper cabinets independently of the rest of the lighting be desirable. If the upper cabinet lighting uses a separate circuit from the UCL, having a separate switch becomes necessary.

0. Find out from your cabinet maker if they would recommend using direct wire (eg low profile eW Profile) light bars for internal cabinet lighting. If they don't, you need to go the low voltage route.

1. Find out from your cabinet maker/ installer where each of the boxes for the upper cabinets will end up and the best locations for a hole.

The location will need to be transferred to the wall, wiring run and the necessary holes made.

2. Plan on having 2 separate circuits anyway (min 2 switches).

I've added a link to a description of a 3 way switch diagram with multiple lights (the lights are in parallel so that even if one goes out, the remaining light(s) still function.

If you don't want the added expense of a physical (real) 3 way switching circuit, you could opt to install an enOcean based wireless switch.

The nice things about enOcean type switches are that
a. they utilize energy harvested from flicking the switch to transmit the signal
b. they implement a virtual multi-way circuit and you can eliminate the wire runs required for multi-way circuits (3 or more way).
c. disparate circuits can be controlled together to give the illusion of a single circuit.
d. lights can be automated.

Leviton enOcean example

Here is a link that might be useful: 3 way switch diagram with multiple lights

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 7:44PM
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I found these direct wire undercabinet lights. Would they work well? Do I need anything else for them to work under my cabinets?

Would I get the same for the upper glass doors or some other direct wire lights? Only the top cabinet shelf will have the glass fronts.

Thanks, Peke

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 7:47PM
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The pegasuslighting bar is almost an inch tall (15/16") while the elementalled bar is 1". The style is the same as the traditional t5 UCL lights.

Probably not really suitable for in cabinet use - too much room taken up.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:32PM
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My cabinets were just installed and now I need UC lights. I have 4 separate sections of uppers with Romex coming out of the wall just under the cabinets in the 4 locations. The 4 sections of lighting are to be controlled together, with dimmers at 2 locations (3-way). The available width under 2 of the cabinets is 28” and 18.5” under the other 2 cabinets.

My designer recommended the Lithonia Rayzer LED bars in 18” (353 lumens) and 24” (441 lumens) lengths. It looks like the Rayzer requires a separate transformer and step dimmer -- I’m not sure if I can use 1 transformer and dimmer for all 4 cabinets, since the lights will not be physically connected (except by the in-wall wiring). The more expensive Tech Lighting Unilume bars have an integrated driver, but the available lengths do not work as well for me. I would have to use 13” bars (432 lumens) under the 18.5” cabinets and 19” bars (645 lumens) under the 28” cabinets.

The UC lights are an important light source in my kitchen, as our wood ceiling prevents us from using recessed cans, so the UC lights are intended to provide both task and ambient lighting. For good light dispersion, would it be better to use longer, lower lumen bars or shorter, higher lumen bars? Are there different products you would recommend to better fit my needs?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 4:59PM
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Your description tells me that you cannot use the Rayzer LED bars. The romex wiring and dimmers indicate that your electrician pre-wired for 120V AC.

Longer bars would be better. You could stagger the bars to fit 2 13" under the 18.5" cabinet runs.

Alternatives - eW profile, maxlite direct wire lights that have been discussed above.

I would suggest adding pendants / suspended light bars for better ambient lighting.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:10PM
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Something like the following would be interesting as an alternative to recessed pot lights

Here is a link that might be useful: selux linear led

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Thanks, David.

I guess I want the upper glass cabinets to have a light in the front that projects toward the back of the cabinet. I am not sure if that is the best or not. I just want to spotlight some antique dishes.

I am not sure about puck lights. Don't they get really hot? I think I need LED. My electrician has never done any of the tapes with transformers so I don't want him to learn on my house. LOL

I think direct wire would be best for us since he knows how to do that. I just need to find the lights. Maybe I will wait until all cabinets are in, then choose the lights.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 6:24PM
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Waiting until the cabinets go in is a bad decision as putting in wiring then without damaging the cabinets is nearly impossible.

1. Use eW profile strips mounted on the sides.
2. Give your internal cabinet dimensions to Phantom Lighting to build you a custom system. This will be a low voltage system.

In either case, you still need to consult with your cabinet maker and installer.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 6:51PM
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We live in the middle of nowhere so my cabinet guy does not create a plan with dimensions. We can't seem to pin him down right now. He is working on another project.

So I cannot do anything direct wired....only low voltage?


    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:41PM
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Romex wire is much thicker and stiffer than the typical low voltage wire.

Direct wire devices will require larger holes in the cabinets and the bars are typically larger than the equivalent low volrage devices.

For in cabinet applications, low voltage devices are typically deployed as size is more important.

It is possible to estimate the dimensions of the cabinets, height above the countertops and mark out the approximate locations for the necessary holes in the dry wall first even with minimal input from the cabinet maker.

You might want to contact Phantom Lighting directly and discuss things.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:17AM
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David, I am very annoyed to hear my electrician wired the kitchen in a manner that is not compatible with the Rayzer LED bars, since they were specified by name on the electrical sheets of the building plans. The eW Profile was my first choice, based on reviews here, but the available sizes don't work with my cabinets. Maxlight has good sizes, but not the 3000K color specified for all of my kitchen lighting.

In addition to UCL, we will have above cabinet cove lighting, 2 aimable LED spots in a soffit over the bay window behind the sink, an 8' long fluorescent up-down sconce (Artemide Talo) above recessed cabinetry on one wall, and a track with 3 pendants above the island. So, the UCL are not the primary lights, but they are probably more important for ambient lighting in our kitchen than in kitchens with lots of pot lights, so I want to make sure they provide enough light (lumens and width of light).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:04AM
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The other signs for direct wire would be
1. The voltage readings at the exposed ends of the romex wires give 115 - 125v.
2. There is no romex wire leading to an obscure but accessible location(s) where a power supply would be stored.

Assuming that the best solution now is to use the installed wiring, you could have the bars staggered so that there is some overlap or arranged in a W or \ \ fashion.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:45AM
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It is possible he planned to put the transformer and step dimmer in the attic. There is no attic over the half of the house with vaulted wood ceilings (including the kitchen), but the hallway next to the kitchen has attic above it, so I think a lot of the wiring goes through there. My GC asked what lights I want so he can install them, since the electrician doesn't seem inclined to come back and finish the job anytime soon, so I guess the GC has to figure out how it is wired.

I was worried the light might look strange (not in a straight line) if the fixtures are staggered, but maybe that is not a concern? The electrician wanted me to just use the field cutable LED tape he usually uses, but I thought the light quality would be better using a bar with a lens to diffuse the light (to avoid dots on the counter).

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Ask your GC to check if it is direct wire or configured for low voltage.

The staggering of fixtures does not matter as much as the illumination result as the underside of the cabinets are not directly visible.

For example, if the expected result are uniformly lit counter tops without shadow regions (near the top), the bars may have to be placed in a staggered pattern (especially in right angle corners).

The tiny dots of light can be avoided if the lights are installed like cove lighting.

In reality, when the kitchen is used, there will be things on the countertops to obscure the reflection.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 1:20PM
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I just called the company that sells the driverless led strips posted by spacedog above, to ask them if they can be direct wired (their website shows them to plug into an outlet). I was told they could be, but that you have to leave the "box" in the middle of the cord in place. So I asked if you simply cut the plug off and connect the plug wires to my 120v wires inside of a junction box and the sales rep said, "Yes."

Does that sound correct to those of you with more knowledge of the electrical code than I have? Is it OK to wire the cord to your romex cable?

Here is a link that might be useful: driverless led strip

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 4:05PM
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You need to connect the romex to the wiring in a small junction box under the cabinet.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 4:21PM
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Thanks David, but my question was more about wiring the "cord" to the romex, than about the junction box (which I mentioned in my post). Just seems odd that you can wire a cord to romex, but very handy if it is legal.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 5:40PM
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The cord cannot go inside a junction box embedded inside a wall. However, it can be connected to romex inside an exposed junction box using wire nuts.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 5:58PM
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Thanks again David. I assume this means that a cord can be wired to romex in any junction box that is a true junction box (as in accessible). When you say "embedded" in the wall I assume you are talking about an illegal junction box that is hidden in the wall.

This post was edited by akbarnjeff on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 18:22

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 6:18PM
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The romex wire has to exit the wall. The eW profile bars utilize a small under mount junction box to be code compliant.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:21PM
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David, why does the Phillips eW have to have a transformer? Somehow I missed this part. I am sure you have said why multiple times....sorry. Thanks, Peke

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:43PM
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There is no transformer with the eW Philips.

You may be confusing the "small under mount junction box" with transformer.

The 2 items are not the same.

The small under mount junction box is used to connect the romex wiring exiting the wall to the lamp cord attached to the LED strip.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Just bumping this informative thread up after reading it again. Thanks davidtay!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Was sold on Philips eW for our UCL, but having trouble finding a source. Seeing as how it's been available for a few years, has it now been replaced with something newer... better? If so, what? Also - davidtay (or anyone) - the longest jumper available for the eW seems to be a 5'. That is not long enough to connect the cabs across the window/sink area. Can two 5'footers be connected, if so - with what? Or will our UCL need to be operated on two separate switches?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:46AM
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You can get it from

It would be better to put a direct wire (inside the wall, on the same circuit) into the other cabinet section than to use jumper cables.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:51AM
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I looked at the link on your last post. It looks like they are taller than the ones I posted.

The Philips lighting 11 inch 3000k white eW profile powercore is 120 volt and has a small profile of 1.7 inches high by .88 inches wide by 9.25 inches long.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:37AM
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The height of the bar is 0.88 inch not 1.7.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:11AM
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Quick question on the driverless LED linked previously. It appeals in that its super easy for an utter electrical noob to just plugin in. I'm thinking of ease of replacement when the time comes. However if you want to have dimmable functionality, is there any easy way to do that without cutting off plugs? Can you get a receptacle attached to a wall dimmer that you then plug these into? If so can anyone provide the info on that?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:05PM
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The short answer is no. The general expectation is for switched receptacles to be controlled by on/ off switches, not dimmers.

Direct wire lighting should be relatively easy to replace compared to low voltage in that you could conceivably change out one vendor's light bars for another (eg - unilume for maxlite).

Having said that, the likelihood of replacing a LED bar is low, barring any major mishaps such as a roof leak /fire.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:16PM
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I'm looking for low cost solutions for cove lighting but some decent task lighting if I want to crank it up. I'll probably go ahead and use bars for ucl but much....much too expensive from what I'm seeing for accent or ambient lighting above cabinets or in coves. The driverless Solid Apollo LED's seems to have some awesome lumens per foot at 220, at a comparable price to other conventional tape LED's (by the time you buy the driver) that offer less. Also the long run flexibility.

So I guess heres my real question. If I want to use these and have them dimmable as the product description suggests they are, how is the best way to do it then? Is it going to pass code if I tell the electrician to just cut the plug, its a new construction home? Sorry, really am a noob with electrical, I'm sure the electrician would know but I find if you sorta know what you are talking about going into the conversation, it commands more respect.

Hopefully Apollo expands their product description to be more precise, its somewhat counter-intuitive to have a plug and play LED strip and advertise it as fully dimmable but not explain how its accomplished (and in fact can't be accomplished by the plug provided).

Here is a link that might be useful: Ling to Apollo driverless (if needed)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 4:49AM
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The cord has to be connected to the romex wire outside the wall in a small junction box like that used by the eW profile.

As stated earlier

Posted by davidtay (My Page) on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 17:58
The cord cannot go inside a junction box embedded inside a wall. However, it can be connected to romex inside an exposed junction box using wire nuts.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:20AM
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Thanks david, after reading the posts 3-4 times I figured that was the jist. Threw me having the EW profile referred back to so I wasn't sure if it was applicable in this case.and whether or not it would pass inspection. The folks at Solid Apollo weren't sure of that either.

This post was edited by niteshadepromises on Tue, Apr 16, 13 at 16:57

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 4:37PM
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I need to do direct wire UCL for various reasons, but have a 3/4" light rail!. I don't want to use Xenon due to their heat unless they can be dimmed down to less heat.

I'm really stuck in that my light rail is 3/4" and very few direct wire manufacturers have lower or equal height profiles. I've called Lunilume distributors near me but they all say they don't carry it. Strangely a lot don't know about Lightolier either (part of EPhillips?).

Any low profile direct wire LED light suggestions out there, or ways to lower xenon's produced heat? In many ways I'd prefer xenon (like the light), but I have a few glass cabinets and am concerned with the bottom shelf. I don't even know if xenon direct wire comes in 3/4" low profile.

Thinking maybe I"ll skip UCL until something new breaks on the market. Wonder how I'd deal with the romex capped in a junction box if that's even possible to buy some time. I guess I'm going on a little, sorry. This lighting and venting MUA are tough to figure out to the point of an actual purchase.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Sparklingwater:Phillips eW powercore direct wire LED light bars with a 3/4 light rail should work fine.(how deep are other light rails ? deeper than 3/4"?) They have a low profile. I have them with no light rail and cannot see them straight on but can see them in the adjoining room which does not bother me personally..These lights are very simple for you if you are handy or have an electrician to install.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 10:58PM
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The local lighting store, our contractor and our electrician all suggest we use the Seagull Ambiance LED lights for our UCL. Is there a reason we should push to use something else? So many other things to deal with, I would rather just go with what they are recommending unless there is a good reason not to.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 10:59PM
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As stated earlier in the thread, the 2 main choices are direct wire or low voltage.

The Seagull ambience LED options appear to be mostly low voltage.

To reiterate
Some reasons to use direct wire
1. High output desired for multiple sections spread out over a large area/ where low voltage equivalents could become too expensive.
2. No desire to deal with low voltage calculation, DC power supplies which need to be located in an accessible location. Or greater familiarity with AC devices.
3. Possibly better component quality (more likely for Philips eW profile) and CRI.

Reasons to use low voltage
1. Lower output. Low voltage bars have smaller conductors and/ or heat sinking that would limit the ability to drive/ over drive the LED emitters. This differentiating factor is likely to become less important as the LED emitters become more efficient.
2. Small enough install where the costs between Low voltage and Direct wire (AC) are not too dissimilar.
3. Requirement for low profile (~ 0.5")
4. Exact fit requirements, curved surfaces - low voltage tape can be cut, some bars may also be modified.
5. More vendors, more options.

Please read through the discussions on this thread (& the predecessor)

You need to price out the entire system and at least one other alternative. It will be a substantial investment.

Since you're going to have to live with the UCL, make sure that it will be something that works well for you.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:12AM
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An International Light Fair is currently being held in Philadelphia PA, USA. I spent a good hour looking around at the awards section, particularly looking for new concepts in under-counter lighting (ucl) but nothing stood out on ucl.

I am noticing that Europeans tend to use an ucl LED puck light design in the kitchen. While I can't recall the manufacturer, I recently viewed an ucl puck of 43 or so diodes per round puck (designed in response to consumer requests), and is dim-able (very bright).

Any thoughts on LED ucl puck lights, which casts a sort of triangular light rather than rectangular light for UCL?

Here's a link to some new LED lighting concepts, commercial and residential at the fair.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:06PM
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I'm going to investigate the Phillips 0.88 inch PowerCore, ERF. It would be 0.13" over the .75" light bar in height.

Today I meet with a lighting designer about Lunilume which is less than 3/4" height profile and hard wired (splice box required).

Lastly, Lowes Kichler Utilitech LED can be hard wire spliced I believe but major draw back of not dimmed. Not the best reviews however. Their newer Utilitech Pro is dimmable, but over 1 inch.

I keep viewing low voltage tape, strips and bars DIY on youtube: with a little electrician's help due to my 120 AC fear, I think that is a very viable option, especially aided by davidtay's wiring notes and the first ucl diy thread.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:39PM
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I have read and reread these threads about UCL. I hope someone can help me make sure I have what I need.

We currently have hard wired flourescent lights. I want to switch them out for LEDs. I bought Juno upled pro series in various sizes to fit the cabinet lengths we have. they are listed as 3000k and dimmable. I saw them in a local lighting store and I liked the light, bright but not blue.

A few questions:
1. They come in 14, 22, 30" sizes. If I have a 28" cabinet, is a 22" unit ok or will that be too small. Do you just use the longest strip that fits under the cabinet?

2. The specs state that they are compatible with several magnetic low voltage dimmers and electronic low voltage dimmers. Is there one dimmer that is better than the other?

3. My GC says that lights are usually installed closer to the wall, which is how the current ones are installed. After reading the posts here and looking at the spec sheet, it looks like the recommended location is to install them as close to the front of the cabinet as possible. When I told him, he said, "lets just do it in the middle instead." So, front or middle?

I have the lights. I need to buy the dimmers and if we mount them closer to the front, I will need a cable to allow for that. Does that sound right?

Thanks so much for any help you can give me!

Here is a link that might be useful: Juno upled lights

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:01AM
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A small junction box may be necessary to splice the romex wire if the original is too short.

You might have to use the old position if finding the appropriate box is too difficult.
I'm guessing that the existing fixtures have the tube in front rather than facing the wall.

Using an ELV dimmer would be more sensible.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:19AM
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Davidtay: thanks for the help!!! Is this what I need to move the boxes closer to the front of the cabinet? The link below us for a direct wire module.

Just to clarify, if this is what I need, would you recommend mounting them closer to the front of the cabinet? Our uppers are 12" deep and bottoms are 24".

Thanks so much for your help!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Direct wire module

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Most of the installs on this and the previous threads used the 3 pin low voltage LED bars.

12" is not that much room, and the lights you're intending to use aren't that thin, so the variation in the placement wouldn't be that significant.

I would suggest considering using the existing location as that would be more cost effective.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 4:52PM
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Oh, no...now I'm worried. Are these lights not recommended? When I went to the lighting store, I liked the color/brightness of the LED light, the fact that they are dimmable and that they are the hard wire kind.

Should I look for a different kind/brand of light?

The uppers are standard depth, which I thought was 12inches, is that not correct? So, then when does placement become an issue?

Sorry for all of the questions. I thought I was on the right track with the lighting...

Thanks again for all of your help!!!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 6:38PM
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sorry, duplicate!

This post was edited by rkb21 on Sat, Apr 27, 13 at 20:02

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Use what you're comfortable with. There are many choices ranging from the exorbitant to the traditional look.

If you use a sleeker bar like either the MaxLite or eW profile, there is more room to play with. Some place the light at the front and angle the light towards the backsplash.

A traditional UCL is usually placed at the rear to middle as the lamp faces forward and the housing offsets the lamp towards the front. Placing the UCL at the rear ensures that the romex wire is largely obscured by the housing body.

I think you should price out the entire system you looked at as well as another alternative such as the eW profile or Maxlite bars.

The lower the profile, the higher the price.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Not much discussion of cost of LED ucl on this thread so I thought I'd summarize a quote I got on AC direct wire/step down to 24v. also, the power switches and hardware supply(s) are 1 inch, so exceed the light rail profile of 3/4".

12 three-prong led fixtures of various sizes for 8 uppers
13 modular led power switches
10 50 watt modular hardwire supplies

$2032.00 not including tax

Is there a less expensive way to still use LED for under-cabinet lighting?

Can you pull the 120v romex through and connect to a halogen or other puck light for now? Then later, change out to LED when costs drop?

Or can you forget AC romex pull and just do entirely low voltage for savings (led 3M tape-does that wreck painted cabinets when removed)?

Thank you very much for any advice. While I've read and re-read these threads, I'm just not grasping how to do these under-cabinet lights without spending a small fortune.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:14PM
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The nice thing about direct wire is that you have more options - halogen, fluorescent, xenon, led and can swap out the fixture more readily in the future.

With low voltage, you might be constrained to either 12V or 24V depending on what you're replacing.

Converting from low voltage to line voltage will require pulling the necessary wiring and potentially making additional holes in the cabinets.

Removing stick on lights may pull off some paint.

Why do you need so many switches?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 8:00PM
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Yes, I'm not sure, but I wonder if it could be a new local 2013 electrical code? Vaguely remember hearing about bad news that each light needed it's own box but when I spoke with the electrical code office directly about this, he said nothing.

I have to ask the Rexel dealer to review how he came up with this.

I do agree having direct wire placed while down to back walls (who knows what shape they are in) is prudent. That's why I've been searching vigorously and rather unsuccessfully for a low profile LED direct wire. This isn't even the Unilume quote.

I may have to consider other lighting format for now. One nice aspect of my frameless cabinet is it's 3/4" thick on the bottom of the uppers, so xenon-produced heat will have farther to travel before impacting items in the lower shelf.

Doesn't dimming of xenon lower the voltage and thus resistance induced heat?

davidtay, have you looked at Halo led ucl, by Cooper Lighting? I briefly looked at it and bookmarked to research this week. Imported but priced reasonably.

Thanks very much.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 11:06PM
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"If the cabinets have intervening fences/ stiles, it may be difficult (or impossible) to form a continuous led section. Notching the cabinets is difficult once they are installed."

Just notch out the wood.

"Using a router on the underside of an installed cabinet could be difficult and challenging."
Why would you use or need a router?
If you wanted to recess some wires or a light strip maybe, but that is getting into pretty serious overkill (unless your know folks that like to lay their head on the counter to check the bottom of the cabinets).

Try a "Gent's saw' and a little handwork.

It will easily cut the small section of case side below the bottom of the cabinet floor, and then you just pop it out with a chisel.

Has had work died so badly everything must be powered?

Even a tiny notch on the bottom of a cabinet edge?

If you are worried about the wood not breaking off cleanly enough, make repeated adjacent cuts and use a smaller chisel to clear them (maybe even bevel down and at an angle to start).

Even in the age of 'power everything' some handwork if often needed.

You could even use a very narrow blade on one of the oscillating tool cutters to clear the waste between the two vertical cuts.

You can take an oscillating tool saw blade and cut it down even narrower.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Oops, xenon lighting results in a gaseous state , so no dimming with them.

My Unilume quote came in at around $2600 for 9 lines etc of various sizes. Surprisingly not much different from the first quote.

davidtay or anyone, have you ever used tresco LED lighting products? similar to unilume in quality as far as I can see from spending some hours on their videos and site. Huge selection of LED products.

Not feeling the cost here...but more manufacturers should weigh in soon on my lighting plan for ucl and in cabinet light.

Here is a link that might be useful: tresco led

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 5:47PM
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davidtay-I'm not sure I understand your LED diagram with one transformer downside from an AC switch and parallel led light sides across room space.

For example, I can see one switch and one accessible transformer on EACH side of my kitchen, for total of 2 switches and two transformers. I can place each of the power supplies in an accessible place with separate AC switches (dimmer switches) close enough to each transformer to be wired, then the DC wires/jumpers connect to the led bar lights.

I don't get how you can jump clear across the room to the other side using just one switch and power supply without low voltage wires going into ceilings or floors to get to the other side, which my remodel isn't doing.

What am I missing here?

ps: Peke, if you're still here, how did you lighting turn out? Did you figure out your install. thanks.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 7:05PM
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The diagram is just an illustration showing how 3 separate runs could be made in parallel.

People do have low voltage wiring in the walls, floors and ceilings - lighting, sound systems, networking ,...

If you don't want to use in wall wiring, there is the flat wire option which is embedded in the wall texture.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 11:22PM
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"Oops, xenon lighting results in a gaseous state , so no dimming with them. "

Say what?

Dimming Xenon charged light will result in more darkening of the envelope by the firmament (with a decrease in life) but it still depends on how often and what level you dim them.

If they send most of their life on full they will be just fine.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Ooops,oops, not xenon sorry. It's electrified fluorescent light tubes that are filled with noble gases such as argon, krypton or neon to eliminate chemical reactions resulting from the electrical discharges in the tube.

Thanks brickeyee. Btw, what's your opinion on LED under-cabinet lighting? Our local lighting designer who works at the lighting supply and is very knowledgeable, told me LED pricing will never come done due to its requirement of trace elements. Not sure about that.

To follow our local code of 18" to combustible surface lateral to my range, I raised the cabinets 3/4" and bought a 3/4" light rail. Given that step and frameless flat cabinets, one of the lowest profile lights is needed which happen to be LED. Not a bad choice, just that my GC wants direct wire. It's all going to work out though, and LED it will be.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 3:26PM
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What trace elements?
LEDs are now poised to displace CFLs and other cold cathode lighting.
LED has already displaced cold cathode (fluorescent) backlighting in LCD TVs.
LED UCL will only see a gradual decrease in pricing because UCL is only a small portion of the lighting market.

The easiest option is to use direct wire.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:37AM
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"Rare earths" are used in some semiconductor fabrication steps, many that manufacturers will not disclose or discuss.

Semiconductor fabrication is often protected as proprietary until no longer economically useful.

Patents require you to reveal more information than the manufacturers are willing to give up.

The actual manufacturing procedures and steps are the 'tricks' that make it work.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:25PM
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I continue to research Unilume undercabinet LED due to it's excellence in many ways and at 0.74" inclusive of built in tranformer, a true low profile for my 0.75" light rail.

To keep the cost more in my budget, I wish to ask if I could consider centering a 19" bar on each of three 30" cabinets and later consider adding another 7" bar to each via a jumper cable.

As I understand it, Unilume lumens are 600 lumens per foot at 90 CRI/3000 K. That is a lot of bright light and as my cabinets are long, a lot of light over a long distance. For this reason, I wonder if I might compromise in the above manner initially. Three of the 30" cabinets will have in-cabinet lighting, as well as LED recessed cans above pointed to counter top edge above.

Thank you for your thoughts on this matter. Time to demo is approaching and soon I must make my decision.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Wed, May 8, 13 at 22:08

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 9:02PM
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It would be just like using traditional ucl- the important areas are brighter than others

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 6:04PM
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Hi all. I was just on Lowe's website, and they are supposed to get Utilitech led direct wired dimmable ucl in 2-4 weeks. I am in Oklahoma which means your state may already have them. We get things about 6 months after every other state. Reasonable prices.

12", 18", 24", and 30"
Direct wired

David have you heard anything yet?

Here is a link that might be useful: lowes utilitech ucl

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 3:12PM
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This is a direct replacement for the typical t5/ t4 fluorescent Ucl box.

Each is expected to be wired directly to a romex wire coming out of the wall which would be the case when previously configured for fluorescent Ucl.

The height is > 1" which is taller than either the maxlite, eW profile or newer lights from Philips.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:54PM
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"or newer lights from Philips"

davidtay, I'll look on their site, but is there a newer Phillips direct hardwire, low profile I missed? My profile is 3/4" and it's pretty slim pickings in mid-upper mid price range. Thank you very much.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:24AM
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There is the fortimo led strip, which could be deployed as Ucl with significant assembly required.

The eW profile is not going away as it is a complete system.

Either the maxlite or the eW profile (for direct wire) should work fine even with a style of 3/4".
Another is the solid Apollo led lighting as listed earlier in this thread.

If you must have a slimmer profile, low voltage could yield some savings vs UniLume.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fortimo led strip

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 11:00PM
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For the Philips eW Profile wired for 3-way switches, is the Lutron Diva DVELV-303P an appropriate dimmer?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:20PM
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I think so, assuming the load is

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:24PM
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I calculated 89 watts

And to clarify, this would be split up into three sections which are separated by a range hood and a sink. How would I wire these lights to two 3-way switches on either end of the run? Would it be the same as wiring multiple recessed lights to two 3-way switches?

This post was edited by powerpuff78 on Thu, Jun 6, 13 at 5:09

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 3:47AM
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Yes, that's correct.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:33AM
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My electrician and I had a mis-communication on the UCLs for my project. The fixtures I ordered aren't what he was expecting me to get, and now he's saying he may not be able to install them. I'm hoping someone here will have ideas on how to make it all work MacGyver-style and still keep the inspector happy.

The electrician was expecting me to buy Juno direct-wire fixtures like these. These fixtures have a hollow channel along the back for splicing the wires. My electrician planned to take advantage of that volume by splicing together multiple romex cables in there. Under most of the cabinet runs there are two cables coming out of the wall: one coming from the previous run and one leading to the next.

Instead, I ordered the fancy new Unilume slim-line fixtures and splice boxes. The splice boxes are tiny. The idea is that you run one piece of romex or bx into the back of the box, then poke the white, black, and ground wires into little clips. Each clip only has one free hole, which means that there's no way to hook in the romex cable to feed the next cabinet run in my setup. (Here's the instruction sheet.)

My electrician says there's another gotcha: even if the little clips had an extra hole, the splice boxes just aren't big enough. Apparently you need a certain amount of volume for each wire coming into a box, and two 14/2 cables need around 9 cubic inches if I remember right. If if weren't for that, we might be able to just cut off the clips and replace them with small wire nuts.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to work around all this? One idea I had is that we could just get another fairly shallow junction box and mount it to the bottom of the cabinet and splice the two 14/2 cables in there, along with another smaller one running into the Unilume splice box. If we painted the junction box to match the Unilume stuff it might not look too bad. Would that work?

A related issue I'm having is that the electrician has the romex cables poking out of the wall in the middle of where each fixture should go, since the Juno fixtures have cable holes in the middle. I'm thinking that to work around that I'll just have the light strip be in front of the splice box, with a jumper cable connecting them. The light won't be quite as nice as if they were back against the wall, but a few inches won't make a big difference. Does that make sense?

If I had bought this bigger version of the Unilume things would be a lot simpler. But that one is a lot thicker, which defeats part of the purpose. It still would have given me the continuous, remote phosphor and the high CRI, though. Sigh.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation. I probably should tried to draw a picture to explain it, but I'm not feeling very artistic tonight. Any help would be appreciated!


    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 3:47AM
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Lwarner, is there a reason you are simply not returning the ones you bought and going with the planned Juno's?

I really need to take pics and explain what we ended up with using LED strips.

Is it too late to put a electrical box behind the wall and just junction the romex together and have a smaller single wire coming out?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 8:39AM
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Given that the profile is important to you, there should only be one romex wire coming out at each cabinet run.

Each light run should be in parallel so that problems in one run do not take down the entire system.
Using a flat junction box mounted on the underside would work, however, it would likely spoil the low profile look you desire.

If the space above the kitchen is accessible, it would be possible to put regular sized junction boxes there (properly secured) and make the necessary splices.

3rd possibility (needs confirmation from tech lighting) - use another UniLume splice box to connect the second romex.

The cleanest look would be option 2 where the splicing is done out of sight.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I'm installing my UniLumes next week. I wanted to get the Direct Wire instead of the SlimLine to eliminate the under cabinet splice box, but they aren't actually available yet (only the product sheets are online) -- Tech Lighting said they'd probably be out around August or September. So I bought SlimLine.

Our GC has one romex wire coming out of each run & will connect into an UniLume splice box. From there we will use the TechLighting connector cables to connect each light to each other. We are pulling each light near the front side of the cabinet. We would have liked to have kept the splice box out of sight but it's not very large.

I don't know if you can use a second Unilume splice box to continue the line to the next run, but that would probably be more elegant than adding a separate junction box in addition to the splice box. In the end as long as there is some space under the cabinet to hide the UCLs you'll probably never really notice or think about it after the installation is done.

hildebrau -- the Unilume is much brighter than Juno. I also think it's a cleaner light.

This post was edited by calumin on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 13:42

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:10PM
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^^ The last post describes my understanding of how my Unilume UCL will also be placed next week.

lwerner, i've played with that splice box, and it's one of the sturdiest I've seen in all the LED UCL I've looked at. Many are just plastic with a single screw on the outside to keep it together, while this is part metal. But yes, designed for parallel with one splice and jumpers. That said, I hope you find a solution and soon: Unilume offers a nice product but if it won't work, I'd exchange it on cost basis alone. Maxim lighting just brought out some new LED UCL in case you don't know. GL.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 15:24

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Thanks all!

I'd prefer not to return the Unilumes for a couple of reasons:
- The hassle factor. I got them at about half price, but with no return policy. I could probably sell them on eBay if I had to, though.
- More importantly, they're really nice fixtures. The continuous phosphor gives very even light, and they have a good color temperature and 90+ CRI. I hate lights with poor color rendition.


Unfortunately the space above the kitchen isn't accessible. There's an attic not too far away, but getting there would take a lot of work The long wall in the kitchen is a shear wall (drywall on top of 3/4" OSB), so to do anything in that wall we'd have to open it up from the other side. I'm pretty much limited to what I can do by rearranging things under the cabinets, at least on that wall. On the other wall I think we could make holes, rearrange things, and hide the holes under a backsplash. Lots of work, though.

I like your idea of using another splice box for the second romex. I don't think the inspector would like it, though. The wires inside the splice box are 18ga (or maybe 16?) and joining two segments of a 15A circuit with 18 ga wires inside a fixture might freak him out. But I'll mention it to my electrician and see if he thinks it would fly. This inspector has cut him slack on some things like spacing out outlets on either side of the sink but been super-strict on others. For that matter, maybe he can just ask the inspector if he'll cut us some slack on the volume requirement. These fixtures draw so little current that heat inside the splice boxes shouldn't be an issue at all.

I think so far I'm leaning toward putting another junction box under the cabinet to do the splice in. If I paint it black, put it all the way back against the wall, and make it as small as they'll let us get away with, it might not look too bad.



    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 7:01PM
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The electrician could put in a low profile junction box at the back of the cabinet underside, tie the 2 romex wires there and a stub romex which would lead into the uniLume junction box.

The rear junction box would only have 3 sections of romex wiring and the front uniLume junction box would be wired according to the uniLume wiring instructions.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 8:58PM
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David: Thanks. That's kind of what I was thinking, but you described it a lot better. I'll use your wording when I suggest it to him. :-)


    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 9:11PM
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So I went to check our in-progress kitchen remodel this morning. Sure enough there are two romex cords per under cabinet space (one yellow, one white, can't recall what that means). Dang.

All along I emphasized the 3/4" profile light rail I was working with, and their request for hard wire only. I took a lot of time on UCL research, spent a lot of money. I'm not going to go with extra junction boxes hanging out in the back near the plugmold to twist the two romex, then final to the Slimline Unilume. Those junction boxes would definitely be larger then 3/4", more like 1", as the Unilume Slimlime splice box is 0.88" inch if I'm recalling correctly. I asked for the electrician to talk with me early on. What a shame.

Sorry for my rant. I've done a lot of personal work to get this kitchen right and this kinda tops it off. LWerner, coincidence or not, thanks for your post and Laura and David, yours too.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:01PM
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sorry for double post.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Tue, Jun 25, 13 at 14:23

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:02PM
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Bummer, I'm sorry that you're in the same situation. Let me know if you or your electrician figure anything out.

I'm supposed to talk to my electrician next week. (We can't get in the house this week because they're sanding and finishing the hardwood floors.) I'll let you know if he comes up with any good ideas.

My current plan is to have him jam as much of the romex as he can back into the wall, then run the end into an inch-thick junction box and splice it to a single, smaller wire that goes to the Unilume box, like I described above. If that's too ugly, then after the final inspection I can dispense with the junction box and just do the splices inside the Unilume splice boxes. I think there's room.

The yellow and white cables are probably 12 gauge and 14 gauge respectively. Doing anything with 12 ga wire inside those tiny splice boxes is going to be very difficult. It's fairly thick and hard to work with even in a normal-size junction box. 14 ga is a lot easier. With copper as expensive as it is now, I'm surprised your guy used 12 ga on a lighting circuit.

Sorry for the late response. I'm not feeling well lately. Don't get a compressed pudendal nerve. Not fun.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 12:11AM
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Can anyone tell me the difference in what you get from the Lowes Utilitech Hardwired Cabinet Led Light Bar Kit verse the Pro Series Juno line from Home Deopt. Comparing the 12", the Home Depot line is considerablyore expensive. What do you get in the HD Junos that you don't in the Lowes. Utilitechs. I included Links below

Home Depot

Here is a link that might be useful: Lowes

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 12:50PM
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From the specs, the utilitech is taller, consumes more power and cannot be linked.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 11:38PM
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In order to link the Juno's ( I have 1 cabinet to the left of the sink and one to the right with 14g wire behind each ) my Electrican I believe then connected them together in a 3gang box. It's roughed in at the moment.

I'm assuming linkable simply means separate bars are controlled via 1 switch. Did any other kind of wire need to be run in addition to the 14g to make them linkable? Is any kind of transformer needed? Again all he did was combine the wire in a 3 gang box?

Is this all that's needed to make them linkable? Or does linkable simply mean you can connect two of them togather under the SAME cabinet ( like doing two 9" under a 20" cabinet?

I'm leaning towards the Juno LED's sold at Home Depot

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 2:29PM
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The juno lights are direct wired to 120V - no transformer.
Linkable means that you can daisy chain lights on the same cabinet run.

The instructions in the box should detail this and more.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 5:30PM
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I've read this stuff until my head is spinning, but I'm UCL-electricity impaired!

Please define these terms:

splice box
power supply
junction box

Are these four separate things?

Here's my situation:

I have two runs of upper cabinets on opposite sides of my 13x13 kitchen. One run is separated by a vent hood into two "runs".

I told my electrician I wanted one switch to control all UCLs, so he installed a switch under the end of one run of cabinets.

At the moment, there is one thick, flat yellow wire sticking out from under each of the three "runs" of cabinets.

I showed him the Juno Pro LED lights from HD, and he said he would install the appropriate wiring.

Did he install direct wire? Is it too late now for low voltage? Is that yellow wire called Romex?

My electrician is not good at communication. He tells me now I can use "his" special "to the trade" tape LEDs even though I thought he had set up my cabinets for direct wire. And I thought all tape LEDs were low-voltage, which requires different wiring, no?

For direct wire, I thought I'd only need to purchase one Juno Pro LED fixture to fit under each cabinet, plus some sort of wires to connect each one in each of the three "runs" of cabinets in my kitchen. So I'm very confused about all the references in this thread to junction boxes and splice boxes!! What on earth are those? How many of those do I need? One splice box for each fixture? How many junction boxes? Or will the electrician supply those?

I want to buy the lights and everything else I need myself and have my electrician install them. He marks up everything a lot, and I'm getting pretty fed up with his pricing and his inability to communicate clearly.

One last question: The Juno Pro LED lights are expensive! I've read elsewhere in this forum that there are Xenon fixtures I can buy (Seagull lighting?) that will take LED lights when I have the money to upgrade. Will the Juno Pro Xenon fixtures (which look identical to the LED fixtures) also take the LED lights? The Juno Pro Xenon fixtures are about 50% cheaper. If I go that route, will the wiring my electrician installed (those big yellow wires and one switch) work as well? Or am I stuck with Juno Pro LEDs or some other expensive LED option?

Any advice is appreciated. I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown with this renovation, and the UCLs are about to push me over the edge! TIA!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 10:46AM
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The second post in this thread contains the most information.

splice box - small box (usually mounted on the underside of the cabinets) used to join wires together.
transformer - reduce the voltage from 120v ac to some lower voltage (still AC). Very often, this term is used interchangeably with power supply.
power supply - power source for low voltage lights - for example 100W supply for 24V DC.
junction box - a box used to join wires (typically mounted in a location not readily viewable from the living space.

Romex is a trade name which is the electrical trade's equivalent of Xerox.

It is likely that your electrician installed 120V AC wiring (direct wire).

If you don't trust your electrician, get a second quote.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 12:33AM
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I promised a follow-up after my electrician worked on installing my Unilume UCLs. Here it is.

Short version: He made it work. The Unilumes are great: nice, even light with a great color temperature.

Long version:

- The Unliume splice boxes are very cramped, and there's no way he could have spliced together two 14/2 cables in there using regular wire nuts.

- The boxes have three "clips" in them. Each clip has 3 or 4 holes for wires: two wires feeding the little sockets on either side of the splice box, one wire grounding the box (for the ground clip only), and one empty hole for inserting the wire that comes out of the wall.

- The electrician removed the wires coming into the clips from one of the box's two plugs (making the socket on that side inactive). Now each clip had two empty holes, which let him insert the wires from the two 14/2 cables. Problem solved.

- Technically there isn't enough volume in the boxes for the number of wires going into them. But the inspector is extremely unlikely to call him on it, especially since the boxes are mounted right up against the wall and you can't really see the cables going into them.

- I'm assuming this is no big deal from a safety standpoint because the LEDs use so little power that there will be almost no current going through the wires to heat things up. I think the total amperage for all my UCLs is around 0.5.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:34AM
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lwerner -- I'm glad you got it to work and like the Unilumes.

Mine went in last week as well, they are great. My only issue was that I had to replace the dimmer. I had 4 30" and 2 13" lights on one switch. That worked out to 99 watts. The Tech Lighting guy told me when looking at dimmers you need to reduce the advertised wattage rating by 30-40% (and incandescent dimmers by 80-90%) to determine whether it will work. I started with a Lutron C-L dimmer (MACL-153M) which was rated at 150 watts for LED, but it buzzed. I had to move to the Lutron ELV dimmer (MAELV-600), which was 4 times the price, but it worked.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 1:14PM
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