Under-cabinet lighting is a weekend project that provides lifelong benefits.
It can set the mood for a romantic dinner, provide bright light for slicing and dicing or glow softly for a midnight raid on the refrigerator.
Begin by solving the power source problem. Unfortunately, most electrical
boxes in a kitchen area belong to dedicated circuits and most local
codes prohibit any connections to these circuits. Look for an outlet
serving another space that backs up to the lower cabinets.
Next, plan the wiring route. To simplify the project, you call run
the cables through your lower cabinets. Most local codes require
plastic-sheathed cable be protected inside metal conduit in lower
cabinets and other areas where the cable is subject to damage.
Finally, you may also want to hide the lighting fixtures by adding
a small valance to the lower edge of the upper cabinets.
Key Installation Steps
Using a long bit, drill a hole next to an existing power source in an adjacent
room, then insert a coat hanger. Locate the hanger inside the cabinet, and use
it as a reference point for marking and cutting an access hole for wiring in
back of the cabinet.
1. Run cable from an existing outlet, through flex conduit, into
a new junction box. Install connectors and more flex conduit for
under-cabinet lights and switches. Strap conduit within 12 in.
(30 cm) of junction box.
2. Fish cable from the base cabinets to the upper cabinets' lower
edge. Run conduit to remodeling box for switch. Wire must run in
flex conduit when running through the back of cabinets.
3. Secure the cable to the fixture with a cable clamp, connect wires
according to manufacturer’s instructions, then screw fixture to cabinet
bottom. Test lights.
The most common choices for under-cabinet lighting are halogen, xenon, fluorescent and thin, tubular rope lighting. Halogen and xenon are generally low-voltage
fixtures that use built-in transformers to reduce the 120-volt current to 12
volts. Both halogen and xenon are dimmable using special switches. Install
a continuous row of fixtures for the most evenly distributed light.