Installing Under-Cabinet Lighting
LESLIE: Eric in Alabama, you’re up next. What can we do for you?
ERIC: Hi. I wanted to ask a question about under-cabinet lighting.
ERIC: I bought a – I don’t know – about five plug (ph) lights on a string …
ERIC: … that you’re supposed to mount underneath the cabinet. But I’m kind of a little intimidated on where to start with that and how to tap into like electrical outlets and so forth.
TOM: Is this a low-voltage lighting kit that you purchased, Eric?
TOM: For under-cabinet lighting? Yeah, those are great. I mean you basically have to hook the lights up. They – then they go into a transformer and then the transformer gets plugged into the outlet. So it’s really a fairly easy thing to do. Basically, what the transformer does is it takes the 120-volt power and it drops it down substantially to a very, very low power. And then those wires you can surface mount on the bottom of the cabinets. And if you’re careful, you sort of hide them up in the underside of the frame so that nobody can see them. But it’s really a fairly easy project to do if you follow the instructions and assemble the lights. It’s very safe.
LESLIE: It’s a great addition to the kitchen, Eric; especially if your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of natural lighting or if your ceiling cans aren’t functional for your work spaces. So it’s very helpful and it’s a great safety feature as well.
TOM: And lighting that area of the countertop’s important because that’s the task area; that’s where you have to really be able to see what you’re doing.
ERIC: Do I need to tap in – somebody told me I need to tap into an electrical outlet.
TOM: Well, if it’s the kind of system I’m thinking about, Eric, you simply plug the transformer into the outlet. So you’re not actually tapping into anything; you’re not doing any hardwiring at all. You’re simply plugging in the transformer, which should have a regular power cord and a regular outlet coming out of the back of it. And then, the low-voltage side goes from the transformer through the light string. If it’s any more complicated than that, if you have to actually hardwire this into the house, then it’s probably not a job for a do-it-yourselfer and you should call a pro.
Eric, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, a quick and easy sort of task lighting under your kitchen cabinets are those rope lights that you can buy at the home center; not just at Christmas time. You know, they’re great. They come in a variety of colors and a variety of lengths and you could easily hide that on the underside of your cabinets. And those also just plug directly into the outlet and they’ll give a continuous stream on a rope of lights, so you can do the entire under-cabinet area and give a ton of light to a task area.
TOM: Good point. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.