Minimal & Efficient: Use LEDs for Under Cabinet Lighting

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.

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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.

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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.

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(Images: Lauren Zerbey)

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