Under Cabinet Lighting
1. Although the fixtures themselves are hidden from sight, under-cabinet lights make a huge difference in the appearance and functionality of your kitchen. The best under-cabinet fixture highlights your beautiful countertops and provides task lighting to make cooking easier.
2. There are three main under-cabinet options. Strips with long, rectangular housing are the most common type and provide an even, diffused look. The puck style casts aesthetically pleasing pools of light onto the counter, but aren't as useful for everyday tasks. Linear style use tiny, moveable fixtures positioned along a flexible cable, so they can follow cabinet curves and turns.
3. Plan on one 12-inch under-cabinet strip or three pucks for every 4 feet of countertop. Install fixtures toward the front of your upper cabinets so they illuminate more of the work surface.
4. If your cabinets don't have a built-in valance to hide under-cabinet fixtures, either add one (most cabinet companies offer a 2-inch molding) or choose fixtures with sleek housing that's not as noticeable.
5. Under-cabinet fluorescent bulbs are energy-efficient, inexpensive, and easy to find, but don't accurately show colors and can change the look of food and countertops. These can be used as a cheap alternative.
6. Halogen bulbs are bright and accurately render colors, but xenon under-cabinet fixtures are just as efficient and doesn't get as hot as halogen. Both halogen and xenon under-cabinet bulmbs are dimmable and great for everyday tasks and aesthetics.
7. LED under-cabinet bulbs are energy-efficient and use discreet, low-profile housings. Since they produce narrow beams of light, they are best for adding ambiance to your kitchen rather than for everyday use.
8. If you have dark, glossy countertops, like black granite or quartz, prevent glare by using a frosted lens on strip fixtures and by avoiding puck style altogether.
9. Sleek, hard-wired kitchen under-cabinet lighting requires the services of an electrician for installation, while plug-in require access to a discreet plug (there's usually one in the cabinet above your range).
10. Under-cabinet fixtures are either line-voltage (120 volts) or low-voltage (12 volts). Low-voltage use a transformer to step down the voltage; look for ones with built-in transformers so you don't have to hide a transformer in a cabinet.