The 10 Best Under Cabinet Lights
This wiki has been updated 35 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Just about any job is much easier when you can see clearly. Under-cabinet lights can conveniently help illuminate your kitchen countertops, garage workbenches, or any other areas that seem too dark. Our rankings include everything from hardwired options that require professional installation, to self-adhesive, battery-powered offerings that can be put up easily by anyone. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 01, 2020:
Today we added in the GE 34289, a tried-and-true model from a reliable name in lighting, and it boasts a generous lifespan of 50,000 hours and is backed by a lifetime warranty. Once it’s installed, you can set it to produce warm, cool, or daylight illumination. This hardwired choice is compatible with various dimmer models and is available in three lengths. It’s got a convenient on-off rocker switch and a high-quality steel housing. We also added in the Philips Hue 555334, a set of LED strip lights that is also from a popular lighting brand. This high-tech set can be voice-controlled when you have the necessary smart home technology. It can be controlled in tandem with other smart bulbs from Philips. It comes with adhesive tape for installation, and its printed-on markings make it easy to trim as needed. It puts out 1,600 lumens in total, and measures six feet in total, and you can purchase extra extensions, as necessary. These two new models replace a couple of others are that unavailable, the Hyperikon T5 and the Ustellar Kit.
The Getinlight IN-0202-5-BZ is another choice that remains in a prominent spot on the list. It’s available in sizes ranging from 9 to 40 inches in length, and the swiveling bulb lets you position it just right once it’s installed. This versatile selection comes with everything required to either hardwire it or plug it in. You can choose a housing with either an oil-rubbed bronze finish or a white one, to match your decor. The Brilliant Evolution BRRC135 is a highly popular set of six puck lights that will run for up to 100 hours when you have them at full brightness. They can be set up in just a few minutes, and they come with 18 AA batteries. If you purchase a set that requires hardwiring, be sure to rely upon a licensed electrician for installation, for safety's sake.
November 19, 2019:
This round of updates saw quite a few changes to these rankings, but that’s unsurprising in a category that’s evolved as rapidly as this one over the past decade. To begin with, we removed the Eshine EL3003W, ADX Wireless Motion Sensor and WenTop LED Strip – all due to availability issues. We also eliminated the Lightkiwi E7574, which still presents as a respectable option, but didn’t appear to be bringing anything to the table that wasn’t already being offered by more affordably-priced options in the category.
In the place of our fallen rankings, we included the Getinlight IN-0202-5-BZ – a pricier option that’s well-suited to line-voltage hardwiring, the Brilliant Evolution BRRC135 – a pack of battery-powered puck lights, the Wobane CS6 – an affordable set of low-voltage LED strips, and the Solmore 3919 – a batch of chromatic puck lights that are great for lighting parties.
As an electrician, advances in this category have been a tough pill to swallow, because they’ve really put the power back in the hands of the consumer, offering products that make it easily possible for somebody with virtually no construction experience to safely install their own under cabinet lighting. That being said, this isn’t the case for all options in this category. So, if your under-cab lighting is a project you’re planning tackling on your own, here’s a couple things you should keep in mind:
Power Source: The biggest factor facilitating homeowners’ safe self-installation of options like the Mr. Beams MB852, the Solmore 3919 and the Brilliant Evolution BRRC135 is the simple fact they’re battery powered – effectively eliminating the risk of electrocution and need for an electrician. Discreet installation of options like the Ustellar Kit, the Keylola 10ft and the Aiboo Dimmable will still require a subtly located under-cabinet receptacle, which should only be installed a reputable, licensed electrician – but should still save you some money compared to hiring a contractor to hardwire your fixtures.
Installation: Once you’ve got your power source figured out, there’s still the matter of mounting to contend with. While most do-it-yourself-inclined folks will be comfortable grabbing a screwdriver or drill to drive a few fasteners into a cabinets underside, those who are less enthusiastic about tools might appreciate the simple, self-adhesive design of options like the Keylola 10ft and the Brilliant Evolution BRRC135. This style of stick-on mounting is also handy for drywall applications, as it saves you the hassle of installing anchors for your screws.
Patriot Lighting Direct Wire LED This contractor-grade, under-cabinet fixture is easy to install and provides a natural-looking warm white glow. It’s available in 16-, 24-, and 32-inch sizes, and a total of 50 can be linked together, as needed. It’s compatible with select dimmers and is Energy Star certified. A power cord is sold separately for those who wish to plug it in and therefore avoid a hardwired installation. It’s equipped with an on-off rocker switch, mounting hardware, cable and power connectors, and linking extensions. menards.com
Tips For Designing The Perfect Kitchen
After establishing the placement of your sink, fridge, and stove, next ensure that there is plenty of countertop space beside the former and the latter.
Whether you are building a home from scratch, launching a large renovation project, or simply looking to do some updating and remodeling, creating the perfect kitchen is the Holy Grail for countless homeowners, architects, and landlords. In most homes, the kitchen is far and away the most heavily used room in terms of hours (not counting hours spent asleep, of course), and it is the room that must accommodate the largest range of uses.
Far from being a place reserved solely for the storage and preparation of food, in most homes the kitchen is the primary spot for socialization with friends, for swapping stories from the day with family, for doing homework and paying bills, and for myriad other activities. Of course, the primary function of a kitchen is preparing food, and if you have the luxury of designing your own kitchen, there are a few guidelines to follow when planning out this all-important room.
When possible, create a triangle linking your fridge, your sink, and your stove/oven; these three items comprise the main elements of food prep and cooking, and the more easily and efficiently you can move among them, the better you will be able to manage the process of making meals. If you can limit the distance between sink and fridge, fridge and stove, and so forth to a maximum of six feet, so much the better. This proximity allows you to turn from one critical area of the kitchen to find yourself right there at the next.
After establishing the placement of your sink, fridge, and stove, next ensure that there is plenty of countertop space beside the former and the latter. Allowing yourself prep and staging space beside your sink makes it much easier to wash foods, and having ample room beside your stove allows for the easier management of involved, hands-on recipes.
With the appliances and countertop space established, the next element to consider is the kitchen's lighting. Proper lighting is essential for successful kitchen design. Not only does it allow you to prepare meals more safely and properly, but good lighting also makes a kitchen more inviting and pleasant. Fortunately, lighting is one of the easiest elements to upgrade and alter, even without the need to hire an electrician. With under cabinet lights, any kitchen can be bright and functional.
Choosing The Right Under Cabinet Lights
When preparing food, especially when chopping, slicing, and dicing using a sharp knife, it's important that you can clearly see what you're doing. That's why a kitchen with overhead lighting alone is usually insufficiently lit. Even if those overhead lights are numerous and bright, they still might allow your body to cast a shadow on your work area, causing eyestrain and making your work less safe.
That said, wired lights will either require installation by a professional electrician or will monopolize an outlet.
Thus, the addition of under cabinet lighting is a great choice for any kitchen. The price range for under cabinet lighting runs the gamut, but as there are so many different variations of under cabinet lights available at so many price points, it is unlikely to be the deciding factor in your selection.
The first choice you have to make when considering under cabinet lighting is whether to go with wired lights, which require access to an outlet or even to direct wiring, or with battery-powered lights. Both options have their merits and their drawbacks.
A wired light is most often going to be brighter than a battery-powered light, and once installed and connected, wired under cabinet lighting should require nothing more than the flip of a switch to operate. Wired lights also have the benefit of being easily connected with other units, working in tandem to create large areas of lighted countertop. That said, wired lights will either require installation by a professional electrician or will monopolize an outlet.
There are many battery-powered under cabinet lights that are more than bright enough to illuminate a working area. Those batteries will need to be replaced from time to time, though, so opting for battery-powered lighting means accepting at least minimal maintenance for the years to come. If you only need one area illuminated, then changing the batteries isn't such a big deal. A huge kitchen, or any other space where you wish to mount under cabinet lights, may merit wired lighting.
Making The Most Of Under Cabinet Lights
Not only can under cabinet lights add light to a room, but if chosen properly, they can help you save energy by turning off other lights, such as overhead high hats. Many under cabinet lights use LED bulbs bright enough to illuminate a work space such that you can chop an onion, fill out a form, or just pour a glass of water.
Many lights in this category can be installed in closets, in garages, or in attics, basements, or crawl spaces where more visibility is needed.
Group your under cabinet lights so that they provide enough light to be used on their own and you'll never strain to see what you're working on again.
Remember that there are myriad uses for this type of lighting beyond simple under cabinet mounting. Many lights in this category can be installed in closets, in garages, or in attics, basements, or crawl spaces where more visibility is needed. This can make it easier to service a furnace or find those holiday decorations.
And if you choose carefully, even a lower priced under cabinet light might become a permanent fixture: many LED units are rated to last for a lifetime.