The Best Under Cabinet Lighting Options
Good lighting is the key in any kitchen, especially under cabinet lighting. The more light you have, the easier it is to handle kitchen tasks, plus cabinet lighting can set the mood in the kitchen.
Under cabinet lighting helps you see the counters better and reduces shadows you might experience from overhead lighting. Like overhead lighting, there are many options when choosing the best lighting for under your cabinets.
Here’s what to consider.
Considerations for Under Cabinet Lighting
So what should you consider when choosing under cabinet lighting? Here are the top factors.
Types of Under Cabinet Lighting
First, consider the type of lighting you want. For example, do you prefer halogen, LED, or fluorescent lighting?
Fluorescent Lighting Fixtures
Fluorescent lighting is the most common and oldest lighting option. They are the least expensive option but also have the shortest lifespan. Switching them on and off frequently reduces their lifeline, and their CRI, or color rendering index, is the lowest out of any option.
But because of their affordability, they are still popular today. Today’s bulbs are much smaller than the originals, T5 vs. T12, and don’t have heat emission issues like halogen lights.
Fluorescent lighting is a common option for someone looking for an affordable lighting option they can keep on for long periods without worrying about the heat.
- Doesn’t heat up like other options
- Can be connected for cohesive lighting
- Can be hard-wired
- Offers bright light
- Lower CRI
- Not as bright as other lighting options
Puck Lighting Fixtures
Puck lights look like hockey pucks, hence the name. They come in various lighting options, including LED and halogen. If you want a high CRI, you’ll be better off with halogen; however, they heat up fast and shouldn’t be left on all day.
LED puck lighting fixtures give off less heat and can be left on longer. They also last longer than halogen bulbs.
You can strategically place puck lights throughout the kitchen, making them a great temporary option for renters.
- You can focus the light where you want it
- Affordable DIY option
- Good for renters or anyone looking for a temporary solution
- Halogen lights can be dangerous
- Doesn’t provide continuous light; it’s focused on one area
LED Lighting Fixtures
Today’s most popular under cabinet lighting option is LED, mainly for its energy efficiency. Not only do they use less energy, but they often last as long as ten years if you purchase quality lighting.
Most LED options are dimmable, which is a necessary feature for cabinet lighting. In addition, if you purchase high-quality LEDs, they offer the most beneficial color to see clearly in kitchens, which is important when preparing food.
LED fixtures come as fixed fixtures or strips. The fixtures are more difficult to work with if you don’t have standard-size cabinets. If the fixture is too long, it won’t work, whereas strips can be cut to size, making them work in any situation.
- Completely customizable if you choose LED strips
- The most affordable option
- Long lifespan
- CRI can be low
- LED light strips don’t provide enough light for focused work
What Color Light is Best for Under Kitchen Cabinets?
Besides choosing the right fixture type for under cabinet lighting, you must choose the best color light. This decision involves two factors – color temperature and CRI.
Color temperature refers to a bulb’s yellow or blue color. Ideally, under cabinet lighting should have a color temperature of 3000 – 4000K.
- 2700K can be found in incandescent lighting. This used to be the typical light bulb type that you don’t see as much anymore. Incandescent lighting uses heat to light the bulb, which is why you can’t touch it after it’s been on. It has a cool hue and often is more bluish than yellow.
- 3000K has a yellow-white tint and provides more warmth, which is why it’s good for under cabinet lighting.
- 4000K is between blue and yellow and is about as neutral as you’ll get. As a result, it provides the brightest light if you’re looking for a brighter workspace or want to highlight your countertops.
- 6500K is similar to daylight and is likely unnecessary for cabinet lighting. It’s best for areas where a lot of work is done, such as office buildings.
Choosing lighting between 3000k and 4000K allows clearer light while still providing that warm, fuzzy feeling you want in the kitchen.
The Color Rendering Index is more complex but harder to decipher. Here’s a simple way to look at it.
CRI helps with the light’s accuracy. Lower CRI will distort how things look. For example, a piece of fruit may look less colorless. If you’re using the under cabinet lighting for cooking tasks, the higher the CRI, the better. But if you’re using it for accent lighting, lower CRI is okay.
For cooking tasks, focus on a CRI of 95 or higher; any other tasks can be 90 or lower. Just remember, the lower the CRI, the less accurate the lighting.
What is the Most Energy Efficient Under Cabinet Lighting?
The most energy efficient under cabinet lighting is LED lighting. This is also the most popular option. LED lighting lasts the longest, and while it’s more expensive than other options, you’ll need to replace it less often.
What kind of under cabinet lighting is best?
The under cabinet lighting that’s best for your cabinets is the lighting that offers the color and CRI required. Think about how you’ll use the lighting, whether for specific tasks or as accent lighting when deciding what’s right for you. LED lighting is usually best because it’s dimmable, energy-efficient, and customizable.
Should you put warm or white light under the cabinets?
Cool lights offer the most focused light if you’re looking for task lighting. Cool-toned cabinet lighting can provide more focused lighting if you have a warm, toned overhead kitchen light.
Choose your under cabinet lighting carefully based on how you anticipate using it. For example, focused lighting for tasks is much different than accent lighting in terms of color and CRI. Also, consider whether you need continuous lighting or sporadic lighting, such as puck lighting, when considering your options.