Under-cabinet kitchen lighting installation is one of the simplest home improvement tasks, and it really gives you an added feature in the kitchen. The under cabinet lights are intended to allow you to see well while you are working. These lights will allow you to prop up a cookbook while chopping veggies, and still see both. The best part is that these light fixtures are inexpensive and provide more than their money's worth of benefit. You can find lights in any price range, however, so don't let money be your only determinant. Using various home improvement catalogs is one way to choose light fixtures. Because of the frequent need to see well in the kitchen, you should be very selective about the kitchen lighting you choose.
The first step is to decide whether you want plug-in or hard-wired fixtures. Also consider whether you would like traditional or compact fluorescent light bulbs for your kitchen.
Choosing Plug versus Wired Fixtures
The main benefit to plug-in lights is that they are simple to install. They require nothing other than an adhesive-backing and a light socket. The downside is that these lights can leave tangled cords hanging around your kitchen. You often will spend more time anchoring the cords to keep them out of your way than you will spend putting the fixture in.
The hard-wired lights are tied to a switch in your kitchen. While that makes them more difficult to install, it also means that you will be able to flip the lights on and off more easily. There will be no cables sticking out, and you will have a lighting system that is not easily removable. Choosing the right lights for this project is important as you will be using these lights for years to come.
Setting Up Under Cabinet Kitchen Lighting Installation
If you opt to go with the hard-wired version, then you need to plan for an entire morning or afternoon to do the work. The first step will be set up. You will need to connect the switch to a power source. If you can remove the backsplash (the part of wall between your upper cabinets and countertop), then you will have an easier time. Should you have a drywall backsplash, you will need to purchase the supplies to patch the drywall or consider adding a removable backsplash when you are done.
Turn off the power supply before you get started! While you don't have to have the power off for the first few steps, it is always best to do so to avoid any problems. Practicing safety precautions with electrical wiring is basic but vital to a successful home improvement project. Once you have the power off, you will need to determine where you want the cables for the light fixture to come out. Try to find an inconspicuous place, such as inside one of your cabinets. You will pull the cable from the closest power source, probably an electrical outlet, through a hole in the cabinet and then run the cable underneath the cabinet where you plan to attach your light fixture.
Getting a Switch Box
Be sure to also purchase a switch box. You will use this box to turn the lights off and on. You will need to attach the cables, which are running from the electrical wiring already in place in your kitchen to just below the cabinet, to the switch box. Please read the instructions carefully as the type of switch box you purchase will determine the exact steps to make the connection.
Installing the Lights
The next step will be to put the lights in place. Most of the models available will screw into the cabinets. You will need to actually take the fixtures apart and then attach them to the cabinets. Wait to put the light back together. You should have what are called "knockout holes" in each fixture. These will allow you to pull the cable that came with the fixtures through each of these holes in the fixtures and secure them with clamps.
Putting the Cable Wires Together
Match the colors of the wires from the fixture to the wires going to the switch. Though many people believe this part is difficult, it's pretty simple. Connect like colors together. You do not want to touch together different colors!
Finishing Under Cabinet Kitchen Lighting Installation
You now will need to connect the fixture with the power supply. If you opted not to turn off your power source before, you must do it now. You will be splicing wires, and you do not want to do that while they are live. Look for the white wires coming from both cables. Splice those wires together. Then pull the black wires from each of the cables and attach them to the terminals in the switch. This step will give power to the switch so that it can work properly. Ground the switch by connecting the ground cable to the ground screw. In most cases, the screw will be green, but make sure you understand the layout of the switch before you connect any wires to it.
Finally you will need to splice together the white wires and then the black wires at the power supply location (the receptacle you're tapping into). You should be able to splice these wires together and then consider using a sheath to hold them together. Once you have completed this step, you can put the light fixture back together and turn the switch.
You should now have power to your lights!