I have yet to find a kitchen that was not dramatically improved by under cabinet lighting.
The primary reason that under cabinet lighting makes such a difference is that the vast majority of
kitchens, especially older ones, have one or two overhead lights possibly supplemented by natural light
from one or more windows. The most common problem when lighting the kitchen is preventing
shadows between the single light source and task surfaces.
Typically, shadows are cast by a personís body when they are working at the counter. Depending
on the time of day, weather or season, and the light coming from windows, lighting may be
altogether inadequate on the countertop work spaces. Add light and looks to your kitchen,
or any room, with under the cabinet lighting. Luckily, the fluorescent light bars so popular
in days past are obsolete. Today, there are several stylish options and intensities now
available with halogen and xenon bulbs. These new lights may cost more, but the difference
in the warmth and usability of the light produced easily warrants the extra price.
Almost every under cabinet installation can be handled with one of two types of under cabinet
fixtures; light bars and puck lights.
Halogen and xenon light bars are similar to the older fluorescent under cabinet fixtures but
they hold 2-3 low voltage lamps instead of a single fluorescent. They are designed for under
the cabinet use and come in various lengths to accommodate different cabinet sizes. Their
housings, unlike fluorescent predecessors, are available in varying and handsome styles.
However, the functional differences in these two speak to your personal taste in lighting
needs. The halogen lamp provides a crisp white light with very good color rendition,
similar to sunlight. The xenon light gives off a warmer, softer glow while still providing
good work illumination. This lamp is also cooler to the touch. If desired, both halogen
and xenon lights can be operated on a dimmer switch (most light bars include a two-position
dimmer on the unit itself.) Under cabinet light bars are designed to replace existing
fluorescent fixtures and may typically be installed in just 20-30 minutes per cabinet.
Puck lights take their name from their shape. The hockey puck sized fixtures are
low-wattage (they typically hold 20 watt lamps) and may usually be surface or flush
mounted. Common applications are under corner and short cabinets where light bars
will not fit. Puck lights provide spot rather than general illumination and their
light can be quite bright. Dimmers are typically a good idea for puck light installations.
Remember, puck lights produce more heat than lights bars and are typically mounted in
the cabinet surface. Since they are often quite close to goods stored above them, it
is best to plan your lighting so nothing perishable is stored over puck lights. Anything
can be stored over the bar lights.
Bring your countertops out of the dark. Eliminate shadows from your primary kitchen work
surfaces. Todayís low voltage under cabinet fixtures, alone or in combination remain the
easiest way to dramatically update the look of your kitchen.