How to Install Undercabinet LED Lighting

Posted by Birddog Lighting on Mar 27th 2018

How to Install Undercabinet LED Lighting

If you’re looking for a project to add that wow factor to your kitchen without ripping it apart, look no further than LED undercabinet lighting.

It couldn’t be further from the strip lighting of days gone by that never looked great and blew at the first opportunity. With up to 100,000-hour life expectancy (that’s 11 years of continuous use,) it’s hard to see yourself replacing them.

Additionally, LED rope lights are easy to install, sit nicely out of view and are an affordable way to achieve a high-end finish.

The warm glow of undercabinet LED lighting is also inviting, stylish and practical. Come nighttime, turn this on and your kitchen will really pop.

Here’s our guide on how to install undercabinet lighting and give your kitchen the wow factor it’s been missing.

Preparing to Install

First things first, if you go for a strip system or a light bar with built-in LEDs, there is no need for a fixed electrical connection. They run off a 24-volt power source, so all you need is a power supply.

Plug into an appropriately placed outlet and away you go.

If your kitchen is quite small, a couple of flush mount under-cabinet light bars may be all you need. For a larger kitchen though, it’s good to plan to wire your LED tape lighting through a terminal.

This will let you have a fully connected system out of one outlet, and allow for the addition of a wireless dimmer and switch. If possible, choose an outlet that is normally out of sight, such as above top units.

Think about exactly where your lights are going to go, and measure accurately how much strip lighting you need to buy.

If you’re not sure what LED lighting is right for your needs, check out our wide range by clicking here.

What to Buy

There are two main systems you can go for and both have slightly different requirements.

Light Bars

If you go for an under-cabinet light bar you will need a mounting kit, including mounting clips and screws. If you want to link several bars together in a row, make sure you have an end-to-end connector included in your kit.

LED Strip Lights

Simple to install, easy to cut to size, LED strip lights are a great way to install undercabinet lighting. As they are very shallow and come in narrow strips, they are totally unobtrusive.

You can even conceal them along the edge of your counter given sufficient clearance to the doors below. They also come in a wide range of colors too, giving your kitchen a personalized finish.

Mounting Your Light Bars

Mounting is made easy with the mounting kits supplied with light bars. They come in corner or flush mount options. Corner mount are hidden from view, whilst flush mount direct light directly down onto the surface.

To install undercabinet lighting using this system, simply work out how many you need to connect together. Add a 24-volt power supply and this can be simply connected to a safely located, preferably concealed, power outlet.

Installing LED Strip Lights

Before we go any further, make sure that you do not attempt any part of the actual installation whilst the light strip is connected to the power outlet.

For the installation you’ll need:

  • A reel (or however much is needed) of LED strip lights
  • Power Supply (check voltage needed with light supplier)
  • Electrical tape
  • Low voltage extension wire
  • Strip-to-strip solderless connector
  • Wire nuts

Step 1 – Testing the Gear

Miss this step and you’ll kick yourself later. Unwind the reel, hook up the lights to a power supply and check that they are all working properly. Also, make sure that they are exactly what you want in terms of color and brightness.

Step 2 – Trim to Fit

Carefully measure out exactly where you’ll put the lights and cut your lighting strips down to size.

Step 3 – Connect the Lengths

If you are planning to join two or more lengths of LED strips together, you’ll need to use one of three options – a snap connector, vampire connector or solderless connector. Here’s a detailed guide to using all three.

Step 4 – Preparing to Connect to Power

Once you have found the end of the strip that will connect to the power block, take some low voltage extension wire and strip the ends. Strip the ends of the wires coming from the light strips.

Carefully twist the two positive and two negative wires together, making a secure connection with wire nuts. Connect the low voltage wire to the power block.

If you’re thinking of installing a dimmer switch, now’s the time. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, installing it between the power supply and the lighting strip. See below for why they are a great idea.

Once all connections are securely made, plug in and test that all lights are working properly before installing.

Step 5 – Position Your Strips

Now it’s set up and working, you’re ready to carefully remove the protective strip and secure them in place under the cabinets. Make sure the surface is totally clean, dry and lint-free.

Using the self-adhesive strip, make sure that they stick securely in place. Connect to the power supply and your LED installation is complete!

Consider a Dimmer

To really amp up the wow factor, consider adding a dimmer when you install undercabinet lighting. Sitting between your LED strip lights and your power supply, this will allow you full control of the mood you want to create.

Both wired and wireless dimmers are available, giving you full control and letting you choose an option that will look great in your kitchen.

Touch dimmer switches allow you to turn the lights on or off and dim them with just the tap of your finger.

Wiring them is simple, but make sure that you follow the directions on the installation guide that is supplied with the dimmer kit. Also, ensure all safety precautions are followed during installation.

The Takeaway: How to Install Undercabinet Lighting

Our guide on how to install undercabinet lighting really shows that anyone with a weekend can transform their kitchen cheaply, safely and effectively.

Follow all safety precautions and manufacturer’s instructions and you’ll give your kitchen the wow factor in no time. LEDs also cut down on power consumption hugely compared to conventional bulbs.

Check out our blog for more inspirational ways to transform your home with LEDs.

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