- By Clarissa Allison | July 3rd, 2015
When visiting the homes of friends and relatives, you’ll be surprised to discover how many of them are missing an all-important essential – task lighting. Kitchen counters, laundry rooms, and work benches are often hidden in the shadows when these are the very areas in our home in need of the best lighting. Under cabinet and task lighting can make our spaces more functional, allowing us to prepare food, complete chores and use our tools safely. Illumination in key areas will also add interest and depth to your space.
The easiest and least expensive way to upgrade your home or business with task lighting is to install modular under cabinet strip/bar lights. These lights are available in various sizes from 6 inches, to 30 and 40 inch strips to accommodate all cabinet lengths. They are able to be plugged in and linked with each other, or can be connected with interconnect cables (also available in various sizes). Many come equipped with an on/off switch, but the appropriate switch or dimmer can be purchased and installed under the cabinet as well. Depending on the type of lamping selected, you may need to install under-cabinet drivers, transformers or power modules.
Below are some helpful tips to help you install your custom under-cabinet lighting system.
1. Select the appropriate light fixture, size and finish. You will want to place the fixtures close to each other to create an even light for your work area.
2. Interconnect the cables to connect multiple fixtures (You can also connect the fixtures directly to each other providing an uninterrupted light source)
3. Select your power supply (appropriate to the lamping you have selected)
4. Decide whether you want an On/Off option or a dimming switch.
Fluorescent, Halogen or LED?
Under cabinet lights can be obtained with several lamping options. Consider the below before purchasing:
1. Energy Efficiency
Halogen lamping will cost the most to operate with wattage varying between 18W – 25W or higher per fixture.
Fluorescent will often have slightly less wattage, 13W – 18W per fixture.
LED is the most energy efficient solution using only 4W – 10W per fixture. Although the initial cost of LED is more expensive, the bulb’s life span and low energy consumption pays off on the long run.
2. Light Output and Quality
Halogen fixtures will provide a warm, crisp light but be aware of the heat they generate. They can become very hot and items placed close to them (like plastic) for a long period of time can melt and even cause a fire hazard. The color temperature is around 2700K – 3000K (See the below guidelines for Kelvin temperature)
Fluorescent fixtures are very bright, making them perfect for arts and crafts, or work benches. They do not have heat generation concerns. These emit mostly cool light and may have a slightly bluish tint with color temperatures up to 4000K and above. Lower color temperature fixtures can also be found. As referenced in the above chart, a higher color temperature provides a cooler, bluish light. To obtain a warm light, look for lamping of 3000K or under.
LED technology has evolved tremendously the last few years as many fixtures are now available in 3000K and lower temperatures providing a lovely and naturalistic warm light. Since LED fixtures also have no heat generation issues, these fixtures prove to be the best solution for kitchens.
Speaking of kitchens, the size of the fixture is especially important to consider in this space. Traditional kitchen cabinets with elaborate moldings at the bottom can hide larger fixtures, but contemporary stream lined cabinets will not be able to accommodate them.
Halogen and Fluorescent fixtures are often 1 inch in height, sometimes more.
LEDs can be found as small as ½ an inch in height providing a low profile that can be hidden easily under any cabinet, creating the seamless look of a “hidden glow”.
Other Helpful Tips
If you are not adding lighting into an existing space but are in the process of remodeling your kitchen or laundry room, consider hard wired fixtures which conceal any cables and power supplies. Consult your electrician of the best solution before beginning your project.
Create a dramatic look by using a dimmer switch as a mood light or letting the reduced illumination accent your splendid backsplash design.
Once you have installed your under-cabinet lights you will love how much a minor change can enhanced the function and appearance of your home.
Do you have before and after photographs of how task lighting has beautified your indoors? We’d love to see them. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-385-2104 for assistance in choosing to right task lighting for your home or business. You can also view our large selection of under cabinet lighting options on the Louie Lighting website.