Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Under the Kitchen Counter Lighting Ideas

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

The kitchen is the heart of the home, where families gather, meals are prepared, and memories are made. Good lighting is essential to fully utilize your kitchen, illuminating key task areas while also setting the perfect ambiance.

Under cabinet lighting offers the ideal solution for focused task lighting over countertops and sinks while complementing your general overhead lighting. The right under cabinet lights can transform any kitchen into a bright, inviting space.

Types of Under Cabinet Lighting for Kitchens

Under cabinet lighting comes in a variety of styles to match any kitchen aesthetic and lighting needs. The main types include plug-in or hardwired installation, LED puck lights, linear lighting bars, and flexible LED tape lighting.

under the kitchen counter lighting

Hardwired vs Plug-In Under Cabinet Lights

Hardwired under cabinet lights are permanently installed as part of your kitchen’s electrical system, with wiring hidden inside the cabinets for a seamless look. This professional installation takes more effort upfront but results in clean, integrated lighting without any visible cords or transformers.

Plug-in under cabinet lights offer more flexibility for DIY installation or repositioning. The lights use removable plug-in transformers so you can easily reconfigure the layout. However, plug-in systems require accessing electrical outlets and will have some visible wiring.

LED Puck Lights

LED puck lights provide focused, accent-style lighting for concentrated task areas. The compact circular lights fit in tight spaces and cast light directly downward. Puck lights work well for highlighting a section of counter or illuminating a kitchen sink or stove area. When installing puck lights, pay attention to light spread and spacing to avoid shadows.

Low-profile puck lights nearly flush to the cabinet bottom create even, seamless lighting. Models with adjustable heads let you redirect the light as needed. Hardwired or plug-in options are available depending on your install needs.

LED Linear Lighting Bars and Tubes

For minimalist contemporary styles, linear LED under cabinet bars and tubes offer sleek uniform lighting. The long bars mount discreetly to illuminate the entire cabinet run with a soft glow. This uninterrupted lighting creates a clean, modern look.

Linear LED under cabinet lighting provides broader, more uniform coverage than puck lights. Carefully space the bars based on the illumination spread to avoid dark spots between lights. Hardwired or plug-in linear lighting gives excellent task lighting with a high-end look.

LED Light Strips and Tape

Flexible LED tape lighting allows installing continuous strip lighting across the full underside of your cabinets. The self-adhesive ribbon-style LED strips bend to fit any configuration. You can cut the waterproof LED tape to length and connect multiple strips to illuminate the entire kitchen.

LED tape puts out uniform lighting like linear bars but offers more flexibility for DIY installation. Pay attention to layout to avoid shadows in deeper cabinet recesses. LED tape lighting blends into any style kitchen for seamless task and accent lighting.

Factors for Selecting Under Cabinet Lighting

With different under cabinet lighting options available, there are key factors to consider for your kitchen. Assess your space, tasks, and style preferences to select the right solution.

Lighting Levels and Lumens

The brightness of under cabinet lights is measured in lumens. For adequate kitchen task lighting, plan for at least 500 lumens per linear foot. Areas like sinks and stove tops may need brighter lighting up to 1000 lumens.

Carefully lay out puck, linear, or LED tape lights to eliminate shadows or dark areas on countertops. Too-bright lighting can cause glare, so look for dimmable units to control brightness as needed.

Color Temperature for Kitchens

Under cabinet lights come in different color temperatures, from warm white to bright cool white. Warm white lighting around 3000K creates a soft, inviting mood. The cooler 4000-5000K range has a crisper effect, ideal for food preparation tasks.

Mixing warm and cool white in separate banked lights allows tuning different zones. Try warmer lighting over bars and dining areas, and cooler for food prep and cleanup zones.

High CRI vs Standard LEDs

High 90+ CRI (color rendering index) LEDs accurately render colors in your kitchen. This helps properly see food items and cooking, and creates a vibrant space.

Standard 80+ CRI LEDs cost less but may distort colors. If used mainly for general lighting, standard LEDs often suffice. Prioritize high CRI for task areas like cooking surfaces that demand good color accuracy.

Ways to Enhance Your Under Cabinet Lighting

The right under cabinet lighting forms a strong foundation, but you can amplify the effects with supplemental task and accent lighting.

Task Lighting Layers

Portable plug-in task lights provide movable spot illumination for kitchen islands and other uncovered areas. Lighted mirrors boost visibility for makeup application or grooming. Under-mounted stove hood lighting aids cooking visibility.

Layer these task lights with your under cabinet lighting for maximum visibility and functionality in your kitchen’s work zones.

Adding Accent Lighting

Accent lighting creates a dramatic focal point and introduces unique style. Try LED rope or stair lights to illuminate a backsplash or floating shelves. Displayed collectibles, art, and plants can be highlighted with directional spot lighting.

This ambient accent lighting complements the task-focused under cabinet lighting with extra visual interest after dark.

Controls and Dimming

Look for under cabinet lighting with dimming capabilities to adjust the ambiance from bright food prep mode to a subdued dinner party or late night setting.

Manual dimmers offer simple control. Smart lighting options like WiFi-connected LED tape allow controlling scenes and brightness from your phone. Preset lighting configurations simplify usage for different occasions.

The right under cabinet lighting solution illuminates your kitchen’s work areas while coordinating with your overall design. Take your time assessing your lighting needs and options to select the perfect style. Proper install is also key to maximizing visibility and functionality.

With this foundation, you can always enhance the lighting effects by layering additional task and accent lighting. Under cabinet lighting is an essential and rewarding upgrade that introduces new life into any kitchen remodel or renovation.