The best under-cabinet lighting
Do you have adequate lighting in your home? Under-cabinet lighting can help you achieve optimal illumination and customize a room's ambiance.
Under-cabinet lighting is popular in kitchens to light up your cooking area. It's also been adapted for use around crown molding and furniture to create room-wide lighting effects. While bright white LED lights are the most popular, under-cabinet lighting is also available in a variety of colors. To further customize your experience, some models feature dimmer switches and timers.
We're shedding light on under-cabinet lighting with our buying guide to help you find the model that gives your home the illumination it deserves. We also offer some recommendations, like our top pick, the GE 24-inch LED Premium Under-Cabinet Light Fixture, which comes in a variety of lengths to fit virtually any cabinet in your kitchen.
Considerations when choosing under-cabinet lighting
Types of under-cabinet lighting
Shaped like hockey pucks, these lights are typically between two and three inches wide. Installation with adhesive is simple, and they usually require batteries. Puck lights are generally the most affordable option.
Bar lighting has a long, tube-like appearance that holds a series of LED lights. For the most part, they range between six and 48 inches in length. Installation usually requires screws, though some are mounted with adhesive.
Strip lighting consists of rolls of flexible, cuttable strips with LED lights. Length is easily customizable and rolls can be up to 50 feet long. More often than not, installation requires adhesive.
LED lights are inexpensive and long-lasting, and they have an attractive bright white light. They're ideal if you have sensitive eyes or are prone to headaches and migraines.
Fluorescent lights are known for being cost-effective, but they're harder to find than LED lights. Fluorescent lights can also strobe or flicker, which can affect those who suffer from neurological issues.
These lights need to be hardwired to wiring inside your walls. Installation can be challenging, especially if you're new to projects of this nature, so it might be a good idea to hire an electrician to handle it.
These lights are ideal if you want a quick, no-fuss installation for under-cabinet lighting. Unfortunately, you'll burn through batteries pretty often if you intend to leave the light on regularly or forget to turn it off.
Lights that are plugged into regular outlets are easy to maintain and cost-effective. You'll need direct access to the outlet, and if you intend to hide its power cord, you'll have another small project on your hands.
Some LED under-cabinet lighting can be controlled by a wireless remote -- or in premium models, through your smartphone. Some styles are even compatible with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa.
Lighting that plugs into the wall is often controlled by an inline switch for easy access. This system is growing in popularity for its simplicity and ease-of-setup.
Dimmer knobs or switches are ideal for customizing brightness. Some lighting may be able to be controlled via smartphone, allowing you to dim the lights no matter where you are in your home.
Under-cabinet lighting is either installed by way of adhesive strips or screws. Adhesive is an ideal option if you'd like to avoid drilling, but if you ever want to remove it, it's a bit of an involved process. For lighting that needs to be mounted with screws, you'll have to take special care with measurements to avoid permanent damage to cabinets.
Battery-powered under-cabinet lighting costs $20 and below. If you'd like more customization and installation options, you'll spend between $20 and $60. For under-cabinet lighting compatible with smartphones and home assistants, expect to spend $60 or above.
Q. Will under-cabinet lighting add value to my home when I sell it?
A. While it's an attractive perk, probably not. More than anything, turning it on when prospective buyers tour the home gives the room more curb appeal. If you intend to include it in the sale, though, your attorney will need to stipulate that in the contract.
Q. Can I install under-cabinet lighting myself, or will I need help?
A. It's easy to install it yourself in most cases. However, having an extra pair of hands is definitely helpful. Lighting is often installed in hard-to-reach areas, and with longer fixtures, you'll probably need help to properly position them -- which is especially important when it comes to drilling holes or laying adhesive.
Under-cabinet lighting we recommend
Best of the best: GE's 24-inch LED Premium Under-Cabinet Light Fixture
Our take: An ideal option if you're looking for a bright white light that spans the length of your cabinets.
What we like: Energy efficient. Can be used with a dimmer switch. Choice of lengths between 12 inches and 48 inches.
What we dislike: You'll need some electrical know-how for installation as this option requires direct wire.
Best bang for your buck: Brilliant Evolution's LED Puck Light
Our take: Affordable solution with easy installation. Remote control makes using these lights a breeze.
What we like: Easy to control. Simply tap the light to turn it off and on. Remote control is straightforward and includes options for dimmer and timer.
What we dislike: A battery-operated set that isn't cost-effective if you intend to leave them on regularly.
Choice 3: Philips' Hue LightStrip
Our take: Enjoy a fun assortment of lighting effects from a premium brand. Easy installation.
What we like: Can be controlled with a companion app or Amazon Echo. App is user-friendly and lets you truly customize your experience.
What we dislike: Requires Philips Hue Bridge to operate, and you'll need to buy adhesive strips.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.