When we redid my kitchen, I wanted to try new things- maybe a hood and floating shelves! Last year, I was visiting my friends at Kichler and they showed me their LED tape light and said I really needed to use it in my next kitchen remodel. I remembered that and figured if not now, then when? So here’s how to diy under cabinet lighting.
Thank you to Kichler Lighting for sponsoring this post
diy under cabinet lighting
First of all, why do you even want under cabinet lights in a kitchen? Because it adds three types of light- ambience, task lighting, and light to safely prepare food. I can 100% vouch that a kitchen looks better when the cabinet lights are on. The room glows and it feels cozy.
Most people prepare their biggest meal for dinner time when it’s usually dark. So it makes sense to have lighting while chopping veggies and draining boiling water. More light means you can see better.
Our overhead light alone isn’t enough to keep the countertops free from shadows since we have upper cabinets. So the under cabinet lights help fill the room with light. They’re on a dimmer, so they can also be left on at night if you have dogs like us that need to use the potty in the middle of the night.
tape light color
LED lights come in different color temperatures. I choose 2700K which is also know as “warm white.” I love the the soft yellow hue of incadenscent lamps and this is was close to that as possible. I wanted to create as much of a cozy feel so I went with 2700K.
As a heads up, this is a tutorial only if you are hard wiring your under cabinet lighting. This, in my opinion, is a high end look. So you’ll probably need to do this while doing a kitchen renovation. If you want to plug in under cabinet lights, try this tutorial since that’s not what I’ll be covering.
step 1- make a lighting plan
To make a light plan, you’ll want to know where the dimmer (the light switch) will be located and where you want the tape lighting. Then you can plan where the splice box will go and if you’ll need to go around corners for the lighting.
Above is a graphic that shows the basics of how the electrical works. Essentially, the dimmer is hard wired into the wall. Then wires from the dimmer lead to the splice box. The splice box connects power to the led tape lights. To turn a corner, a supply lead terminal box is wired to the tape to wire terminal box. Then the led tape light can go under a perpendicular cabinet or shelf.
Next, use the supplies listed above and the light plan to wire in the under cabinet lighting. We started by wiring in the dimmer and then drilling through the cabinet so the splice box can sit inside the cabinet. You can see on the bottom left of the cabinet-
If you have trim under the cabinets, you could also put the splice box under the cabinet.
And now, it’s time to place the LED tape light. For this, we used a router to cut a small groove in the bottom of the cabinet so that it has a place to sit. The tape light has adhesive on the back, so it sits right in place. You can also cut the led tape light with scissors in the marked spots so it’s pretty easy to use.
Finally, if you want the tape light to round a corner of cabinets or shelves, you’ll need two terminal boxes per corner. These connect wire and the led tape light so that as you turn the corner, those also light up.
You can see in the above picture how we wired the lights to illuminate underneath both of the floating shelves.
I usually take pictures when it’s light and bright in my house, but I waited until I was cooking dinner to flip on the under cabinet lighting. Isn’t it so cozy in here? It feels like a chef’s kitchen with these on.
A great thing about hard wiring in the under cabinet lights is that you can use a switch and a dimmer to turn them on and off. It’s so convenient! This is a definite an upside from plug in lights or battery powered lights.
I was just chatting with my husband tonight about how much we love these. We both agreed that all of our future kitchens will have it. Once you figure out the wiring, these are so quick to install! And they’re worth every minute. The great ambience and how much easier it is to cook- we’re major fans! Plus good lighting changes everything.
Let me know if you have any questions about the process!
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