Hardwiring LED Under Cabinet Lighting: A How-To Guide - LightUp

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Hardwiring LED Under Cabinet Lighting: A How-To Guide

Published by Danielle Sherrer on Apr 17th 2024

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Kitchen under cabinet lighting is a great way to make your kitchen more functional and enjoyable. It provides focused illumination for tasks, such as chopping vegetables and filling containers. For the best results, it is recommended to have properly installed kitchen under cabinet lighting, as opposed to adhesive-backed fixtures. This will help ensure consistent results and make your cooking time more enjoyable.

Under cabinet lighting can add a unique touch to any kitchen or work space. Installing LED under cabinet lighting is a relatively easy DIY project that can be completed in a few hours. With the right tools, some basic knowledge of electrical wiring, and a bit of patience, you can have a beautiful, energy-efficient lighting system in no time.

Installing LED Under Cabinet Lighting

Installing LED under cabinet lighting with a wall switch is a convenient way to control the lights in your kitchen. This arrangement allows you to turn the lights on or off, and even dim them, without any wires or plugs in the cooking area. It is important to note, however, that hardwiring is usually the most involved option when it comes to expanding kitchen lighting. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to hardwire under cabinet lights.

1. Prepare for kitchen under cabinet lighting installation.

The first step required to install undercounter lights or LED under cabinet lighting is picking out the fixtures to install. Before making a choice, measuring the areas where the lights will be installed including the cooking space if the lighting will be installed in a kitchen.

2. Consult with an electrical contractor before you start.

Before beginning a project such as this, it is helpful to talk with an electrician. Electricians are able to answer questions and review your home's electrical box to make sure that the project will not overload it. They can also sure that electrical code requirements are up to code in the area you live in.

2. Plan for wiring for LED under cabinet lighting.

Knowing where you want everything to go before you begin installing kitchen under cabinet lighting is key to a successful installation. It is important to determine the location of the light switch and how much wiring is needed. To help with the planning process, a basic sketch of the kitchen area including cabinets and dimensions can be useful. This can help you determine the number of lights and amount of wire needed and give you a better idea of how the installation will look when it is finished. Additionally, making changes to a drawing is much easier (and cheaper) than making changes during installation.

If an electrician and contractor is consulted during this process, a drawing also gives them a good idea of how the lighting should be installed. Contractors and electricians can give additional guidance including if space for any plugs need to be considered and if a transformer may need to be used.

3. Position your LED under cabinet lighting.

Before hard wiring your LED under cabinet lights, you'll need to position your lighting in the desired location. To ensure even lighting, you'll need to measure the distance between each light to make sure they are evenly spaced. Once you have the desired placement and measurements, you'll need to mark the spot for the mounting screws.

For even lighting throughout the kitchen space, linear lights that run along the length of your cabinets are an excellent choice. Task lighting that runs along your counters should sit close to the front of the upper cabinet to provide lighting to the edge of the countertop. Corner cabinet lighting should be balanced to cover the countertop area sufficiently without causing shadows.

4. Gather tools and mounting hardware.

In order to complete the job and properly install LED under cabinet fixtures, the right hardware is needed. This usually includes screws that don’t penetrate the bottom shelf of the cabinets, as well as the correct size cable bushing and wire connectors. Additionally, you may need the following tools:

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire fish
  • Wire nuts
  • Electrical tape
  • Electrical wire and pressure connectors
  • Drill with keyhole saw
  • Drywall saw

5. Disconnect the power.

Before you begin the process of hardwiring under cabinet lighting, it is important to make sure that the power to the area is disconnected. This can be done by turning off the breaker to the area or unplugging the power source. Make sure that the area is completely disconnected from power before beginning the installation.

6. Attach the lights.

Once the power has been turned off, position lights according to how they were laid out earlier. Marking the bottom of the cabinets with a pencil can help with the installation process. Some undercabinet lights include templates that can also be used or a removable mounting plate. Then, begin attaching the lights to the underside of the cabinets. Make sure to attach the lights securely but be sure not to overtighten the screws as this can strip the threads.

7. Cut the wall.

Once you have determined the best place to install your under cabinet lighting, it is time to start cutting the wall. Start by using a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall, as you will need to cut around them. Mark the area that needs to be cut using a pencil or marker. Then, use a drywall saw to cut through the wall. Make sure to cut in a straight line and be careful not to damage any wiring behind the wall.

If there is backsplash installed, it will need to be peeled back from where the cabinet lighting is being installed. A channel needs to be cut behind the backsplash using a drywall saw. The channel should stretch from under the switch box to the right near the farthest light. Finally, use the drill to bore a hole through the studs so you can run the wire.

8. Run the wire.

The drill will need to be used again to create a hole for each individual light's wire. This is where a wire fish may be helpful for running the wires down the wall from one fixture through the channel and onto the next fixture.

9. Run the cord.

Start by running electrical wire from the light fixture furthest away from the switch. Leave approximately one foot of wire sticking out at each opening.

At the farthest fixture, there should be a one-foot length of wire sticking out at the end, and the next fixture should have two cords sticking out (with one entering and one exiting).

Continue to do this for all the light fixtures until you reach the one closest to the switch. For this light, a length of wire should be coming from the switch box and another length of wire should be leaving the light on its other side.

10. Connect the lights.

Isolate the electrical wires inside each LED light, separating them if necessary and removing about 3/4 of an inch of the insulation from each one.

At the closest fixture to the switch, attach the wires with the wire nuts. Afterwards, connect the black fixture wire with an electrical wire in the wall with a plug on the end, and a wire heading to the next fixture. Repeat the same process with the white fixture wire.

11. Wire the switch.

Before proceeding, make sure the electricity is off at the switch outlet. Then, remove the receptacle.

Next, bind the white wire and the connecting strand of cord together with a wire nut. Afterwards, screw the black wire on the outlet onto the switch's bottom terminal, and screw the black wire that goes out to the lights into the switch's top terminal.

12. Cover your work.

The switch's terminals need to be covered by wrapping them with electrical tape. Then, screw the switch back into the box and attach the switch cover.

13. Test the lights.

Turn the power on to test your lights and verify that they work.

14. Patch things up.

After you have installed your LED under cabinet lighting, you can patch up any drywall that had to be cut away for the wire channel. Finally, reattach the backsplash and enjoy your new kitchen under cabinet lighting!

Check out these LumeGen options of hardwired LED under cabinet lighting like the below that are all color tunable:

Can under cabinet lighting be hardwired?

Under cabinet lighting is a great way to add a touch of ambiance to any kitchen and it can be hardwired. Hardwiring under cabinet lighting is a great way to ensure that your lighting is securely and safely installed for years to come.

How do you hide wires for under cabinet lights?

Installing under cabinet lighting can be a great way to add illumination to a kitchen or work area. However, one of the biggest challenges of installing under cabinet lights is how to hide the wires. To hide the wires for under cabinet lighting, you may need to run them through the wall, use a wire channel, or use conduit.