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Installing under counter lights

Here's the reply I sent to a query about under cabinet lighting


I don't know where you live in the world and I suspect that this is one of those subjects that is very different on different sides of the globe.

Luckily I put in under cabinet lights only a couple of weeks ago so it is fairly fresh in my mind. The space I was dealing with was a bit like the following ascii art digram

! ! ! ! !
! ! ! ! !
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! oo ! o ! o ! o !

^angled double
corner unit ~36"
^Cooker hood ^single "face on"
cabinet ~18"
^ narrow "face on"
cabinet ~12"

I had a few lucky breaks that might not apply to you:
(1) The builders electrician had wired the kitchen such that power was available in a junction box under the cabinets (actually attached to the underneath) this was controlled by a switch near the kitchen door.
(2) There was a 2" thick detail running around the front edge of the cabinets that I could hide the lights behind.
(3) Aside from the break at the cooker hood, the bottom of the cabinets were flat with no obstacles between individual cabinets.
(4) the cooker hood already had a light that came on when you pulled the hood towards you.

I managed to do the job with just two flouresent lights. They were only about 1" thick and 2" deep. the first was about 22" long and I mounted this under the angled cabinet but not centered directly under it. I made sure that it was slightly to the right so that it illuminated the area under the small "face on" cabinet as well.

The second was smaller, about 12" which I mounted under the single cabinet on the right. Both were about 6" back from the front edge of the cabinet. the lights I got were pretty low wattage (I think it was about 25W) don't get them too bright because remember they are illuminating an area only about 20" away.

The lights were designed to be "daisy chained", that is, you plugged power into a socket on the left end of the light and it internally routed it to another socket on the right end. You could then plug a cable into that end and wire it to the next light. In this way, all the lights are controlled by one switch.

I attached them to the bottom of the cabinets by screwing them in. just make sure to get screws that are not long enough to go right through the bottom of the cabinet.

Idealy you should get plugs that match the shape of the sockets on the lights, I couldn't find any and had to improvise with crimps and adhesive.

The only complicated bit was daisy chaiing the two lights. In order to get the cable from the left light to the right one I had to drill a hole in the bottom rear of the small cabinet on the left. Run the cable up through the cabinet, drill another hole in the side rear of the cabinets on either side of the cooker hood and feed the cable through these so that it was hidden behind the cooker hood extractor fan. I then had to drill another hole in the bottom of the right hand cabinet so that I could feed it down to the right hand light.

The advantage of the daisy chaining is that if I want to add lights under the other cabinets in the kitchen, I just have to find a way to get the cable from the last light to the next one. That's easier then it sounds though to do neatly.