Under Cabinet Lighting Guide

Considering adding under cabinet lighting to your new kitchen? Lighting is important in any space, but under cabinet lighting in the kitchen creates a well-lit work space and an aesthetically interesting look.


If you’re on the fence about having under cabinet lighting installed, or you’re in the process of selecting the right type for your space, consider the following features, types and styles that apply to under cabinet lighting.

Notable Features of Under Cabinet Lighting

Dimming – Dimmers make a world of difference in the overall look and feel of your space. While you’re preparing food you’ll likely need the brightness that comes with normal lighting, but when sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee, you may want a softer illumination that’s easier on your eyes and your energy bill. This feature is well worth the modest extra upfront cost it takes to install.

Energy Efficiency – When it comes to any type of lighting, energy efficiency is a big topic of discussion and important factor to consider. In order to save money and keep energy bills low, consider choosing LED lights for their ability to produce adequate light with little wattage, their dimming capabilities and their low heat output.

Heat Output – While we all like to dream of clean, bare countertops, we know that plenty of items end up having a home on the counter—fruits, vegetables, bread, snacks… and you don’t want these items getting overheated! Choosing LED or fluorescent lights are the best way to go because they are cool to the touch and give off very minimal heat.

Lighting Type


The verdict? Go with LED lights for their longevity and energy savings. While it’s a higher upfront cost, you’ll ultimately save in the long run.

Lighting Style & Placement

Recessed vs. Mounted

Recessed lighting may seem like the obvious choice, but often times the light can cause a glare on the backsplash, and there’s no way to adjust that. Mounted lights and track lighting offer a bit more flexibility in terms of both movement and style.

Many people assume that mounted fixtures will look bulky and unsightly hanging out from under the cabinets, but mounting options are now sleeker than ever and can be installed in a way that makes them very discreet. Overall, you can’t go wrong with either option and it comes down to personal preference.

Lighting Placement

As you can see in the picture below, this family chose mounted lights to go under a specific set of cabinets where they planned on displaying their favorite pictures. If you don’t want or need under cabinet lighting under every row of cabinetry, you might choose a spot where you plan on hanging artwork or displaying special china.

kitchen remodel after

Hardwired vs. Plug-In or Battery Operated

Hard wiring lights to your home’s electrical system will cost more than it would to use plugin or battery operated lights, but hard wiring gives you the ability to install dimmers and has a more streamlined look.

If you’re worried about wires and plugs showing if you choose the plug-in route, outlets can be installed inside the cabinets for a discreet solution. But beware—reaching into a cabinet every time you want to turn the lights on or off can get old. Therefore, it may make sense to go the hardwiring route and just be able to flip a switch like you do with all the other lights in your home.



  • Full dimming capabilities
  • Easy to turn on and off with a light switch
  • No visible wires or plugs


  • Higher cost of installation



  • Ease of Installation


  • Unsightly outlet and/or wires
  • No dimming capabilities
  • No easily accessible on/off switch

Battery Operated


  • Ease of Installation


  • Batteries need changed often
  • No dimming capabilities
  • No easily accessible on/off switch

Transitional Kitchen Upgrade Featuring LED Under Cabinet Lighting


Check out this featured project in which we upgraded a kitchen and used LED under cabinet lighting to enhance the look of a full height quartz backsplash. The result is a dramatic and upscale look that brings warmth to the entire kitchen and provides ample lighting for work spaces.

Take the Next Step in Planning Your Dream Kitchen

Ready to make the next move toward getting the kitchen of your dreams? Contact American Wood Reface today to schedule a free in-home consultation!

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