Earlier this year, my husband and I wrapped up a year-long remodel project that included a brand new kitchen. The lighting in our old kitchen was horrible (one fluorescent ceiling light and that was it!), so in our new space we put an emphasis on a well-designed lighting plan. In addition to lots of natural daylight (yay!), we were also excited to use LED tape lights for our under cabinet lighting.
Under cabinet lighting can certainly be a design challenge. Although they provide useful task lighting, these types of fixtures can be bulky and clunky and typically require a pretty hefty valence to hide them from view. LEDs, on the other hand, are smaller, provide more consistent lighting and don't emit heat, making them a perfect product for this application. LED fixtures are typically sold either as a rigid assembly that encapsulates the LED circuit or as a flexible tape light with a protective covering and adhesive backing.
For our kitchen, we purchased a series of tape lights from ET2 Contemporary Lighting. Our system is hard-wired and includes a remote transformer that we hid in the cabinet above the range hood. Since the bottom of our cabinet is at eye-level, we chose to install an inexpensive aluminum angle to hide the strip and connector wires.
Like most LEDs, the color reads a bit cooler than a traditional incandescent, but I find it works well in a kitchen setting.
In terms of cost, many brands seem to be about $30-$40/lineal foot (not including the transformer), although I noticed recently that IKEA has expanded their selection of LED fixtures and now offer several similar (less expensive) options including plug-in versions. It should be noted that LEDs last for at least 25,000 hours (compared to 1,000-2,000 hours for a standard incandescent bulb), so a higher up-front cost can be worth the savings in replacement bulbs and energy usage.
(Images: Lauren Zerbey)