The Best Under Cabinet Lighting – Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

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Lights under your cabinets can really make your kitchen pop. Our guide to the best under cabinet lighting will help you make the right choice for your budget.

Such lighting can help you in the preparation of food and lighting areas of your cabinets that are normally dimly lit. Moreover, you can double your evening lighting and switch off the extremely bright overhead bulbs when you need a dimmer ambiance from a discrete source. You can also use under cabinet lighting for safety.

The perfect under cabinet lighting for your house is dependent solely upon what you expect from it. Is it more of a beautification option for you, or for functionality and practical needs? In either case, this article of our top choices for under cabinet lighting should help you narrow down exactly what you need.

Quick Overview: Our Best Under Cabinet Lighting Choices

American Lighting 3-Complete

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American Lighting 3LC-32-DB LED 3-Complete Dimmable Under Cabinet Fixture, Switchable Color Temperatures, 32-inch, Dark Bronze
  • Easily link multiple Fixtures together via inline connector or jumpers
  • Matching mounting hole covers blend in with housing
  • Acrylic lens diffuses light evenly over the entire work area

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In a single fixture, you get three Kelvin color temperatures. Basically, the color temperatures suit various designs and granite colors. So, you can always complement the lighting with favorite granite. This lighting requires a 120V power outlet. 

Additionally, you can choose between a bronze and white finish so the LED dots that normally form on the counter tops will no longer be an issue. This feature is enabled by a full-length extruded acrylic lens. The 3 different color options come in different strip sizes: 8, 16, 24, and 32 inches.

Things We Like:

  • Good color temperature options
  • Versatility in strip sizes
  • Bronze and white finish for versatility
  • Good options when it comes to lighting a variety of materials

Things We Don't Like:

  • Emits a very light hum, but it's barely noticeable


GM Lighting LARC6 Dimmable Linear Light Bar

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Many homeowners have been talking about these bar lights and what they seem to love most about them is their slim profiles. This characteristic is particularly useful when you want the lights to remain discreet under the cabinets. The GM Lighting LARC6 is a 24V system hence it doesn’t die even after long hours of operation.

Things We Like:

  • Warm white 3000 degrees Kelvin
  • 50,000 hours of light
  • Require a remote transformer
  • Can be integrated into series from a single 24-volt power outlet
  • Dimmable light with a dimmable power source
  • Ca be hardwired and monitored from a dimmer

Things We Don't Like:

  • Requires a remote transformer
  • White only bulbs, not meant for aesthetics

GE Premium

GE Premium 48 Inch Fluorescent Under Cabinet Light Fixture, Direct Wire, Warm White, Steel Housing, On/Off Switch, No Hum, Flicker Free, Ideal for Kitchen, Office, Garage, Workbench and more, 10143
  • 48-Inch warm white fluorescent under cabinet light fixture, with an electronic ballast system that provides no hum, flicker free, instant on...
  • Add light where you need it with fluorescent under cabinet lighting by General Electric. Perfect for designer kitchen, home office, studio,...
  • Fully assembled and ready to install, warm white bulb, installation hardware and instructions included.

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

GE Premium is a direct wire fluorescent fixture, measuring 48 inches. It lights an area instantly without flickering or humming noises. You don’t need to be an expert to install this lighting because it comes with the installation hardware and completely assembled. However, it is important to consult a professional electrician.

Things We Like:

  • No flickering or humming noises
  • Extremely easy to install
  • 48 inches of coverage

Things We Don't Like:

  • Less life than other models

Modular Kichler Lighting 10565BRZ

Kichler Lighting 10565BRZ Modular - Xenon Undercabinet Light, Brushed Bronze Finish with Frosted Glass
  • Material - Aluminum
  • Lamping - Halogen
  • Finish Code Brushed Bronze - Glass Code: Frost

Last update on 2018-12-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Modular Kichler is a low-voltage Xenon light of aluminum construction and a bronze finish. Available in different sizes, it requires 18W bulbs of size T5. It casts a warm glow on your cabinets while the slim depth allows you to hide it under the cabinet. The installation is very simple and you can choose from 1 to 4 light configurations to brighten up your kitchen space.

Things We Like:

  • Dimmable light fixtures
  • High-quality color rendering
  • Xenon lights are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs

​Things We Don't Like: 

  • Produces more heat
  • Less efficient than models with LEDs and fluorescent lights

Features to Consider

Lighting options vary in terms of brightness, lifespan, energy utilization, and color. If you want to find the best option, be very keen on the following features.

Energy Efficiency

This is a very crucial factor when it comes to residential lighting. So far, the most energy-efficient bulbs are the LED models. LED designs require little energy to emit light e.g. 5W while still producing sufficient illumination. The other benefit is their ability to dim hence saving more energy.

Xenon lights are better than Halogen lights and should be your best option when you need a warm glow for a homely ambiance. But if you were to choose between Halogen and fluorescent bulbs, go for the former because it produces little or no heat thus less energy is lost. But most of the fluorescents are not dimmable so you have no control of the intensity.

If you'd like to learn more about energy efficiency when it comes to light bulbs, you can check it out here. It may just save you some money and take some weight off of your conscious. 

​Voltage

Cabinet lighting requires either a low voltage which is between 12 and 24 volts or a normal voltage of 120V. When it comes to light quality and energy saving, there is no significant difference between the two types. But low voltage lighting offers a number of benefits like the application of more fixtures on tight spaces.

 In addition, low voltage emits less heat, giving you a comfortable working space. To step down a high voltage, you need a transformer inside the cabinet or at a remote place along the electric circuit.

Heat Output

Once again, choose LED or fluorescent lighting for energy efficiency and low heat output. The last thing you want is your culinary items melting on the counter tops due to excessive heat production. Halogen lights are the hottest, seconded by Xenon lights.

Dimming Capability

The best lighting for your cabinet underside should be dimmable. This means extra costs since you need to buy the dimmers. But the best thing about dimmable lights is that they give you the control over the light intensity. This is one way of saving energy.

You don’t always need bright light in your house and so dimming comes in handy during particular situations. Notably, family members have varied visual needs. If your dad has eyesight issues, you might want to install low-intensity lighting to minimize the glare.

Wiring

Cabinet lighting fixtures can either be hardwired or simply plugged in. Hardwired lighting is directly connected to the existing wiring of the house i.e. power is derived from a source directly. Plug-in fixtures draw electricity from an outlet or a socket. The latter is simpler and cheaper to install and you can do it yourself.

However, ask professional help if you need hard wiring. Some under cabinet lighting fixtures can be hardwired or plugged in while others are hard wire only or plug-in only. Be sure to observe the wiring requirements before buying the system.

Fixture Lenses

These are important parts of the lighting system that bring about uniformity in the distribution of light. Evenly distributed light has fewer reflections and minimal glare. Consider including lenses on Halogen and Xenon fixtures because they tend to produce more glare.

Different Types of Lighting

Fluorescent Under Cabinet Lighting

This is the other famous option for lighting up the kitchen. It has relatively high energy efficiency but not as good as the LED. Today, fluorescent lights hardly flicker or make humming sounds. They also don’t take much time to light up an area like they used to in the past. These are some of the reasons you might want to consider them for under cabinet fixtures.

When shopping, look for slimmer strips with 0.5” diameter, labeled T4. Such designs are discreet while they also offer sufficient lighting under the cabinets.  If you need bigger models, opt for T5 or T8 which are 5/8” and 1” respectively. 

Beyond these, the bulb would be too bulky to use under your cabinets. If you are not a fan of linear designs, you can check the CFL or the compact fluorescents. CFL bulbs look like hockey pucks. When shopping, check out the wattage specifications which denote the intensity of light emitted by the lamps. You can choose brighter lamps of higher wattage but make sure to install a dimmer to control the intensity.

Incandescent Under Cabinet Lighting

These bulbs utilize hot wire filaments to produce light. Both Xenon and Halogen lights fall under this category. Through a thin electric-heated tungsten filament, they are able to emit light. Xenon bulbs are more energy efficient than Halogen lights and they last longer too. Nonetheless, they are less energy efficient than both LEDs and fluorescents.

The reason most homeowners prefer Xenon bulbs is that they give brighter and warmer illumination under the cabinets.They come in puck design as well as linear design. Plugged in and hardwired models are available too.

LED Under Cabinet Lighting

The lighting technology has seen a lot of advancement and the best way to go is the LED lighting. LED technology has been of great help since the 1980s. On average, light emitting diode bulbs offer 50,000 hours in their lifetime.

They seem to be the natural fit for under cabinet fixtures due to their sleek profiles and dimming abilities. They operate at low costs and stay cool most of the times. Of all the types of bulbs in the market, LEDs are the most efficient in terms of energy consumption. Most of the LED fixtures are directly wired so that there is no need for hogging the power outlets and so they bring out the most streamlined appearances.

Hardwired lights need 120-volt power input for every unit. This means that their installation must be meticulously planned by a qualified technician at the same time the cabinet lighting is mounted. But direct wire lights may be retroactively mounted into a fully equipped kitchen. Nonetheless, such installation requires massive renovations like cutting into the backsplash wall.

The other favorable characteristic of LED is the dimming capability. It is advisable to add dimmers in the ensemble so you can control the intensity of light to suit various situations.

Conclusion

Lighting is a critical aspect of your entire house, but namely your kitchen, because it enables you to see what’s cooking in the pot, what's on the shelf, and set the mood while you set the table.

You can also enhance your personal style which is normally reflected in your interior décor. Overhead lighting is a priority for most people, but installing a variety of fixtures underside of the cabinet is important too.

With the shopping advice on your fingertips as well as knowledge of the important features to look out for, you should be able to find the best lighting fixtures to install in your cabinets. Our personal favorite choice is the American Lighting 3-Complete, which you can check out here.