Under cabinet task lighting adds immediate life to dark spaces and creates a warm environment within the work space. Plan on one 12-inch under cabinet light fixture, or three puck lights, for every 4 feet of countertop. Fixtures should be installed toward the front of your upper cabinets so that they cast task light onto more of the work surface. If your cabinets don’t have a built-in valance to hide the task lighting, either add a 2-inch moulding or choose a fixture with a sleek housing that’s not as noticeable.
Corded lighting is easy to install: Just screw the housing to the underside of the cabinet and plug in the cord. But you’ll have to hide that dangling wire. For hardwired models, you or your electrician will have to tap into a nearby outlet, usually one found along the countertop backsplash. Under cabinet lighting fixtures are either line-voltage (usually 120 volts) or low-voltage (usually 12 volts). Low-voltage models come with a transformer that steps down the voltage. Look for fixtures with a built-in transformer. Otherwise you’ll need to hide the transformer in a cabinet.
Under cabinet fixtures with fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient, easy to find, and inexpensive, although they deaden natural beauty of granite. Plus the lights allow you to see the bottom of your cabinets, wires, and any dirt through the reflection of the shine of the stone.
Halogen and xenon bulbs deliver bright light that accurately renders colors, and they’re dimmable. But both use much more electricity and burn hot, with halogen being the hotter of the two types. One halogen fixture, the Apollo 1630, reached 440º F in our tests. Hot bulbs can pose a safety risk, create extra heat, and might cause food stored in the cabinet above to soften and melt, and are not recommended.
LED (Light Emitting Diodes) are the preferred choice, as they are the most energy efficient under cabinet lighting by far. Their low-profile housings tend to be relatively discreet, and produce narrow beams of light, like a spotlight, which reduce the amount of reflection off of granite counters.
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