According to reports, the average adult spends up to three years of their lives cooking. Apart from meal preparation, you'll most likely be in the kitchen making coffee, packing lunches, or loading & unloading the dishwasher.

Under cabinet lighting makes your kitchen feel bright and purposeful. First, you may need the additional kitchen lighting to illuminate your counter-tops to add some much needed brightness for performing different tasks. Similarly, cabinet lighting can add a touch of class and ambience to your room, making it appear more striking and beautiful.

Here's a comprehensive guide to help you choose under cabinet lights that are functional and appealing for your home.

What To Consider Before Choosing the Best Cabinet Lighting

The right under cabinet lighting for your kitchen depends on several factors. Before making a purchase, consider:

  • Why do you need the extra lighting? It's main purpose is for task lighting, positioned at the exact place to illuminate your work tops.
  • How do you intend to install the lights? Will they need an LED driver or are they mains voltage? LED tape and smaller cabinet lights operates on low voltage, while strip lights and some cabinet lights operate directly from the mains. Be sure to seek guidance from your electrician or kitchen fittings when choosing as they'll know where the wiring is positioned.
  • How do you intend to use the room? Is it only for cooking and chopping or will it be a multi-functional room for entertaining guests, with a dining area close by?

How To Choose the Best Under Cabinet Lighting

There are several types of cabinet lighting options available, each with varying advantages. Some of the key features that will guide you in choosing the best light for your kitchen cabinet include:

1. Colour Temperature

The right colour temperature for your under cabinets depends on your own personal taste. For example, task lighting (the lighting in kitchens where you'll be working with food, following guides from recipe books, and cooking) will require a brighter light, but does a different colour temperature equate to more light? Technically the answer is no. Brightness is measured in lumens, when you compare the difference in lumens of the same light with different colour temperatures, the lumen output is often exactly the same value or is barely 5% different in some lamps and fittings.

The higher colour temperatures do appear brighter to the human eye because the light is whiter and clearer. Ultimately if you want something brighter, you need more lumens. Combining lights with more lumens with a higher colour temperature will give you the best of both worlds.

2. Strips or Cabinet Lights

Strip lights will provide a more even and consistent lighting array as they can be connected together to produce a dot-free lighting effect. While they're only available in specific sizes, you can usually get them to fit neatly into your design. The Forum Legare striplight shown below operates on mains voltage and is easy to install. Designed as an LED alternative to fluorescent they can be used as a retrofit solution for existing striplight fittings.

Forum Legare Striplight

If you do want more flexibility, or if you have a variety of cupboard shapes and sizes then LED strip tape is a great option. It can be cut down to size, with cutting intervals at every 100mm, it operates on low voltage and requires an additional LED driver. The additional LED driver can be advantageous especially if you want to be able to dim it, you just choose a dimmable LED driver to power it. It's also available in a wider selection of colour temperatures and colour changing versions.



Cabinet lights such as triangles, wedges, surface mounted or recessed versions are a popular choice, shown below. Their available in low voltage or mains voltage versions, with options available for varying brightness's. The Forum Culina fittings shown below have a light output of 140 lumens which is a popular level of brightness.

Under Cabinet LED Lighting

If you do want something brighter, the Leyton 3W COB (Chip On Board) fittings have a more impressive light output of up to 280 lumens which is twice as bright while being similar in design.

Leyton COB 3W Cabinet Light

This image below would be an example of what I would consider as a poor lighting design, the lighting distribution is overly bright from the light source with darker patches in-between them. You should be aiming at achieving a more consistent and complete lighting array that covers all of your cabinet work tops.

Under cabinet lighting example

3. Power Source and Installation Method

Consider the source of power and your preferred installation method. Where is the main power cable located? Is it coming from the top of the cupboards? If so you'll need to connect the lights with a longer input cable, then link them together in a daisy chain connection. If you're going for LED strip tape, is one big LED driver more convenient or multiple smaller ones? One big LED driver requires you to connect each strip from one to the next with an input and output connection. If you're fitting a new kitchen, the fittings can wire the cable in the most appropriate place.

4. Profile Rail Mounting?

If you're installing LED tape and don't like the idea of it being stuck directly to the cabinets on its own, you can fit it inside some aluminium profile rail to house it in (shown below). This provides a more professional and robust finish as well as improving the heat dissipation. For the additional investment, its well worth considering. We have options for recessed, surface mount, corner mount and more.

Recessed Profile Rail

5. Light Source

Your only viable option in the modern lighting age are LED-powered lights, they're energy efficient and perfect for kitchen lighting. First, most people love them for the kitchen environment due to their low-heat production. Also, LED kitchen lights are often more versatile, with a vast array of options to choose from.

LED's produce virtually no heat, are environment-friendly, and offer exceptional illumination for various applications. Given the benefits on offer, LED kitchen lights will provide you with everything you could ever dream of for your cabinet lighting needs.

6. Additional Components to Consider

When purchasing under cabinet lighting, it's important to consider if you're going to need any other accessories or components. Some LED striplights require a mains input cable and some come with them. LED tape will require an LED driver unless you're purchasing a kit. If you're going for colour changing LED tape, you'll also need a controller to allow you to change colours.

7. Matching Colour Temperatures

One of the golden rules about lighting is that you want to get all of the lights in the same room to match. Don't consider getting under cabinet lights with a colour temperature of 2700K when you've got downlights or spotlights that are 4000K. The contrasting colours will stand out and won't look right. Each light fixture should compliment the existing design. While a layered lighting effect can be used to great effect by using different types of lights together, mixing colour temperatures is risky business.

Even if you choose the same colour temperature of 3000K for example, you can even get a slight variation from different brands of lights.

Kitchen Lighting Examples

Kitchen Lighting Examples

Kitchen Cabinet Lighting: Final Thoughts

Under cabinet lighting offers an efficient way to add some ambience to your kitchen and increase illumination to help you perform tasks more accurately. You can use cabinet lighting to make your room appear more beautiful and make the space more striking. Combining different lights together to achieve a common goal can help you create your own unique design, you want your kitchen to be nice & bright, it should be illuminated to an average of 300 lux, to put this into perspective an office would be 500 lux.

While the purposes can be numerous, the right choice of light is ultimately your decision and is based on your personal preferences. This guide offers an effective way to help you choose functional under cabinet lighting for your kitchen. Do you need more guidance on choosing the best lighting for your home? Downlights Direct is the place to seek all the help you need.

We have many different lighting options available to suit your needs and preferences. Contact us here or give us a call on: 01706 521188 to discuss your important lighting project.