Types of Under Cabinet Lighting

Beth Asaff
Under cabinet lights

Under-cabinet lighting provides glare-free task lighting for counters and work surfaces in kitchens, bars and pantries. This easy-to-conceal light fixture comes in a variety of different styles and bulb types. Learn what's available for use to find the best kind for your workspace.

Under Cabinet Lighting Styles

There are numerous configurations and types of fixtures available for installing under your upper cabinets. The type that you ultimately use should be based on several factors, including:

  • The size of the space you want to illuminate
  • The style of bulb you want to use - LED, florescent, etc.
  • Whether you want a dimmable feature
  • How long you intend to leave the bulbs on for - night light use, for example
  • Whether you want a battery-operated option or you want it wired in to your home's electricity

With this in mind, take a look at the various styles available to help make your decision.

Puck Lights

Puck style lights are the best options for small spaces, such as pantries and wet bars, because they don't need much room and only illuminate a small area. They can be battery operated or have plugs, which makes them a good option for areas that aren't wired for electricity unobtrusively.

Some puck lights can also be recessed into your cabinet, making them extremely unobtrusive. Other puck lights may be wired together in a string so one switch controls them all. The newest versions of puck lights are also known as "disc lights" because they are much thinner than the older versions.

Puck style lights come in incandescent, xenon, halogen and LED bulb styles. Xenon lights are among the longest lasting, while LED lights emit a blue-white light that complements modern kitchen decors. Incandescent lights burn the hottest; they make a poor choice for very small areas, because they give off 90 percent of their energy as heat, which can warm up the area below very quickly.

A few examples of puck lights to consider include:

  • Pegasus Lighting has low-voltage xenon puck lights available in kits. They are available as hardwire or plug-in options, and come in sets of one, two or three lights so you can customize your space. The low-voltage xenon lights make great energy savers. Prices start at $30.
  • Bellacor has stainless steel, recess mount LED puck lights that emit a warm, white light. They are sold in packs of three, and can be surface mounted or recessed into the cabinet, so you have options for installation. They retail for $170.
  • EuroStyle Lighting carries battery-operated puck lights with LED bulbs. They come in packs of three and use AAA size batteries, making them ideal for areas far from plugs or in homes that can't be hardwired like rentals. Each lights lasts approximately 50 hours before requiring a battery change. They retail for about $25.

Linear Lights

Linear lights are a good option if you are illuminating a small "run" of cabinets, such as the area between a stove and a sink. One long linear light installed in the center of this area will typically cast light over the entire region. This is a good choice for large pantries, desk areas, wet bars and galley kitchens. Linear lights usually need to be wired in, but some options come with plugs.

Linear lights are available in different bulb options as well, including florescent, LED, xenon and incandescent. Florescent lights come in varying widths; some may be easily seen beneath the cabinet, while incandescent and LED options may be easier to conceal, because they are flatter. Some types of linear lights are also linkable, which lets you join up several along one run.

A few examples of linear lights include:

  • Kichler carries direct wire xenon linear lights that are made up of four bulbs in a long, flat fixture. The fixture has a 1-inch profile making it very unobtrusive, and comes in three finishes. It retails for about $100.
  • Pegasus Lighting has low-profile microflorescent linear lights that can be connected to one another to operate in one long strip. They come in varying wattages and lengths so you can customize a run to suit your space. They retail beginning at around $17 a piece.
  • Bellacor carries a long, LED linear light that contains eight bulbs. The 30-inch long fixture is direct wired to your home, and has a hinged top for easy access to the bulbs. It retails for about $240.

Strip Lights

Strip lights are a great choice for big kitchens that require lighting beneath all the cabinets evenly. The lights can string together at set intervals around the space, or they may be made up of a long LED rope or tape.

This option works well for providing some ambient light, as well as task lighting to the kitchen. Some strip lights may also be made up of several positionable lights along a track. While they were once widely available in incandescent festoon lamps, most are now LED-based.

A few examples of strip lights include:

  • Lamps Plus carries an LED strip light that plugs into a socket. It includes 10 LED lights, and has three settings to give you varying amounts of light and sells for around $35.
  • Xenon light strip from Wayfair
    Xenon light strip from Wayfair
    Wayfair.com carries a xenon light strip with a very low profile. The xenon bulbs are meant to last about 10,000 hours, making them one of the longest lasting options available. The strip retails for about $145.
  • Environmental Lights sells an LED tape/robe hybrid that is installed inside a track along the underside of your cabinets. It gives off a bright white light that looks good in modern kitchens, and retails starting at $21.

Light Up Your Kitchen

Under cabinet lights come in so many different styles and with so many features, you'll have no trouble finding an option that works well for your kitchen. Check out the many different types of under cabinet lighting and see just how bright your kitchen workspace can be.

Types of Under Cabinet Lighting