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#216489 12/22/15 08:49 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Merry xmas all,
Hoping to pick your brains a little in regards to kitchen cabinet lighting. Ive been out of the trade for awhile now and when I was working in the trade it was 99% industrial, so the wiring is no problem but Im pretty green on the methods. So just a few questions and if you have anything to add in regards of type or brand or dimming etc I would definitely appreciate it.

The cabinet maker gave me some suggestions but I just want to make sure Im following current methods.
The kitchen is in a U shape more or less and the cabinets will be installed 4 from the ceiling. A crown molding will take up the 4 between the ceiling and the top of the cabinets when all is done.

It was suggested that I install a receptacle controlled by a switch within the 4 space of the ceiling and the top of the cabinets, the lighting transformers would be plugged in there and then I could run low voltage cables from there for the upper and lower cabinet lighting. The cabinet maker would cut me an access hole in the cabinet so the receptacle and transformers were accessible.
Is this typically how it's done?

Personally I thought it may be better to install a receptacle on either side of the u rather than run low voltage cable all the way around just to negate voltage drop issues on low voltage conductors but maybe this isn't a concern considering the lights will most likely be L.E.D.'s
Appreciate any thoughts.

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
I like the transformers in the basement under the kitchen. If you buy your lights from a retail store, they might come with a plug-in transformer. Everything I get from a wholesaler needs a box. 4 11/16 is the smallest that will hold a big power supply but in a basement you can use an 8x8.

For voltage drop, take lots of wires to the power supply so fewer lights are on a circuit. Check your LED lights to see how many can be put on a driver.

I really dislike working on a power supply above cabinets. It can be hard to reach from a ladder.

LED puck lights are better for voltage drop and don't start stuff on fire.

There is a mini-track for under counter if you have longer runs of lights. A power supply can be installed under the cabinet but you need 120 volts to the light for that. There are also 120 volt miniature fluorescent lights for under the cabinet.

What is the main lighting in the kitchen?

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,800
Likes: 16
If you mount the crown about 2" below the ceiling (on a wedge of wood) you can drop some rope in it for soft indirect light. It makes a good night light to avoid the girls using the fridge light to move around at night.
That and rope under the kicks both on a motion detector is a nice addition.

These days I would look at LED solutions under the cabinets for counter top light.

If you are in there before drywall, putting smurf in feeding the cabinet skirts will keep your options open. Home run to a pantry, basement or other area where you can put transformers or a box for line voltage lights.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Thanks TWH, Great idea putting the transformers in the basement; I can only easily access one wall of the U shaped kitchen from the basement as most of the basement is a drywall ceiling. But that being said it will be fairly easy to run the low voltage cable up the easily accessed wall and then around. I like the idea of the 8x8 box, I suppose I would have to mount two power supplies though as I would want to control the upper and lower lights separately. Good info for the voltage drop as well, makes sense.

I was thinking of little led pot lights for the upper cabinets (Two will have glass doors) and the LED strips for under the cabinets, that being said I have never worked with either type.
The main kitchen lighting right now is just a single 3 lamp fixture in the middle of the ceiling and a 2 ft fluorescent above the sink. It is a smallish kitchen.

As soon as the madhouse Christmas rush is over I will have to go to some decent lighting store and check what they have, so far I have only seen the off the shelf stuff at the retailers.

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Greg, very cool idea with the rope and motion detectors. I'm going to be doing the demo, wiring, plumbing and flooring myself and will have a fairly limited time frame so will probably go fairly basic for now but I will install the smurf for the future.
Great ideas!

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 947
twh Offline
If you use lights inside the cabinet I think you will need glass shelves. LED puck lights are probably enough inside the cabinet.

There are low profile LED lights that are pretty good over a sink. They mount on a 4" octagon deep box. Keep the number of conductors in that box to two.

Pot lights in the kitchen are still fashionable but really hard to lay out. I'm slow at it and it can take me hours to figure out where they have to be to light the work surface, light inside the cabinets, centre the beam on the cabinets or the doors, light the entire kitchen evenly, miss rafters, have enough attic height and look symmetrical. My typical kitchen pot light layout is a mess of compromises. Then, it takes time to ensure a good vapour barrier (Canada). It's a part of the reason that I turn down most residential work.

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,336
Likes: 7
I can add the under cabinet version of my kitchen.

Looked for thin LEDs at a local supply house/lighting showroom. Not crazy high end, but mid range. Sales lady took my cabinet layout and punched the info into the mfg layout program. A minute later printed the mat'l list and pricing. Shock me and wife. Asked her if they offered a contractor price/inspector discount. That resulted in 10%.
Still was >$1600.00

Looked around more, found something at the 'Blue' big box. LED, dimmer within the unit, 120volt feed, plug together capability, and no where near the cost. 120 volt to a surface mount box w/toggle and two (2) receptacles for mfg cabling connections. Mount units, connect cables, & done.

Working fine for the last four years .

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Man I never even thought about the glass shelves , I think I will most likely skip the in cabinet lights and just go with the under cabinet lighting. Glad you pointed that out.

The overall kitchen lighting will most likely stay the same, currently I have no attic access as a previous owner converted a bedroom to a dining room. The attic access was in the closet of that bedroom but they installed a built in china cabinet in the closet space. I will cut in a new one eventually but that will be down the road a bit.

You guys have saved me some future headaches, really appreciate all the info.
Merry Christmas

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