Under Cabinet Lights - Preliminary Questions

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  #1  
Old 05-22-07, 11:21 AM
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Arrow Under Cabinet Lights - Preliminary Questions

OK I've researched a number of posts on this topic here but still have some questions...

We are finalizing kitchen remodel plans and are now addressing the under cabinet lights (to be installed by me). I'm trying to plan it completely now so I don't have to make an emergency posting here later.

It looks like we'll probably use xenon lights of some form but don't yet know if they will be 120V, 12V, or 24V. Ideally there will be 2 independently switched circuits, 1 for each bank of cabinets.

Here are some of the issues:

- It seems that most of these lights are prewired with a lamp cord.
- My wife will kill me and anyone who suggests wires through the new cabinets.
- Continuous or linkable lights have issues because some cabinets are sistered together and will interfere.
- We will have cabinets on either side of the range with an exposed hood preventing daisy chaining across the space.

I'm trying to understand the best way to wire these things to code, not have any visible NMB or boxes, and make it work, particularly how to get from the lamp cord to in wall wiring.

Also, is there an advantage to go low voltage over line voltage? If so, I would think that line voltage to the transformer is where the switch should be, so w/2 circuits is that 2 transformers or is there another way?

Have at me please...

Thanks guys!
 
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  #2  
Old 05-22-07, 11:35 AM
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The only way to wire lights with a cord and plug is to a receptacle.
 
  #3  
Old 05-22-07, 11:56 AM
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I wasn't referring to wires w/plugs (we don't want that at all!), in fact here's a description:

"each xenon puck light has a pair of 48in electrical lead wires which, of course, may be shortened “in the field” if necessary. If more wire is needed, please note that the plug-in transformers have leads that are 22in long. If still more wire length is needed, then 12/2 copper wire may be purchased at a local hardware store."

It's from:
http://www.pegasusassociates.com/XenonPuckLights.jsp

So, I think all my original issues still stand.

Thanks.
 
  #4  
Old 05-22-07, 12:11 PM
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So what's your question? Plug in the transformer, run the wires. Done.
 
  #5  
Old 05-22-07, 12:56 PM
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I'm about to embark on the same mission. I think your question is, where to attach the NM cable to the fixture itself, and then how to wire each light together for each bank of cabinets...without seeing wires/cables/outlets/plugs.

You'll have to run the NM cable through the wall, from one fixture to the next, and just pull it through a small hole in the drywall where the fixture will be mounted. This relies heavily on your ability to measure correctly. If you don't want holes in the cabinet, you'll have holes in the wall...you can't avoid both. If absolute concealment of the cable is necessary, you can use wiremold (external wire "conduit") to run from the hole in the wall to the fixture (assuming your fixture is centered on the bottom of the cabinet). If you are using a rectangular xenon fixture (anywhere from 12" to 24" and longer), you will probably locate it farther towards the wall, so exposed wire isn't as much of an issue.

The xenon rectangular fixtures I bought have several knockouts on the back of the fixture. I will be running the NM into one of the knockouts (using a cable clamp), and then connecting the NM to the internal wiring of the fixture...just as you would any other light fixture in the home.

The tricky part is fishing the cable from one fixture to the next, when the walls are finished, and the cabinets are in place. One option if you have easy access to the attic or if your basement ceiling is exposed, is to run the cable down (or up to the attic), across the basement ceiling (or across the attic), then back down to the next fixture. It uses more cable, but requires very little drywall damage.

Hope that helps a bit.
 
  #6  
Old 05-22-07, 01:12 PM
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I just spent part of a weekend installing the same lights you're looking at - and they are awesome (to use a technical term). I'll tell you how I installed them, then you can decide whether it's a good plan or not.

Since the cabinets don't quite go up to the ceiling (there's a shadow line), I ran NM cable out the wall above the cabinets into a 4" square box. The transformer was mounted in the box (per instructions), and the 12v output went out of the box via zip cord. The zip cord went through the 1/2" gap between the cabinets, was stapled to the underside of the cabinets right up to the puck light. I had to extend the 12v wires a bit, so I used butt connectors and electrical tape.

I think it was a great solution since the electrical box is hidden (and protected) above the cabinets, and is hidden behind the crown molding. I didn't attach the boxes in case a transformer needs to be replaced in the future, the NM (120v) and zip cord (12v) is long enough to pull down and hang in front of the cabinets for repair.

I considered recessing the boxes in the back of the cabinets (like you would for a over-the-range microwave), but I figured it would still look messy in the cabinets.

I would personally go with 12v pucks, since running the zip cord is easier to conceal than NM.

Good luck!
 
  #7  
Old 05-22-07, 01:32 PM
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I had similar questions and this is what I came up with:

1) Get a UC light that either does not have a power cord or has it as an option. The one I am getting has the option for both:

http://www.waclighting.com/USA/products/?categoryid=226

You can connect them either through hard wire or through a plug. I got this brand from an electrican's board and they come highly recommended.

2) 12V or 120V - My research yielded that there is no advantage to low voltage and you have this monster transformer to deal with. Line voltage will enable you to have them hooked upto a wall dimmer (nice for those romantic dinners

3) Wiring through the cabinets - I will be spending about $8k on my cabinets and am none too happy about drilling. My compromise was this - have the drilling done through the bottom "lip" - not the actual cabinet. Then I would have the "daisy-chain" run through the holes that were drilled on the bottom lip. This will all be out of sight and the inside of the cabinets would remain untouched. Another option would be to attach a separate strip on the bottom of the cabinets and drill through that - just so you can hide the wires.

4) Range Hood - I too will have cabinets on either side of the range hood. My idea is this:

- Have the switch (one of two 3-ways) on the right of the stove (the other is on the wall as you enter the kitchen)
- Hard wire right out of the wall into the first light, then daisy-chain the rest to the right of the stove.
- Run another hard wire (behind the wall) to the left of the stove and into the light (I only will have one UC light to the left but I would daisy-chain if there were more.

The nice thing about WAC lights is that they act as a junction box much like say a surface mounted florescent light would so there is no need for junction boxes inside the cabinet / or wall.
 
  #8  
Old 05-23-07, 06:20 AM
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Thanks Q Brizzle, Zorfdt, and spta97 for your very thorough answers!

I have a better picture on how to handle things and a few choices as to which fixtures to go with. I will loop the NMB up to the attic and back to a central pair of wall switches on each run. I see that a couple of models also have a "wire module" which seems to be a plastic junction box for NMB in and their connector out.

A couple of questions though:

Zorfdt - you said "The zip cord went through the 1/2" gap between the cabinets, was stapled to the underside of the cabinets right up to the puck light. I had to extend the 12v wires a bit, so I used butt connectors and electrical tape."

Is that allowed by code? How do you get it inspected?

And spta97 - only $8k on cabinets? How did you get away with that? We have a small kitchen and the quotes are twice that and we're only looking into stock mid-level stuff.

Thanks guys!
 
  #9  
Old 05-24-07, 07:48 AM
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Most inspectors (including mine) don't care much about low voltage. I would have never gotten away with (nor tried) doing something similar with 120v. There's no code that states that lv junctions need to be in a box, so as long as they are safe, you should be fine. Also the instructions say to limit the cord length to less than 10'

spta97 - FYI, the transformers that are used with the LV lights are tiny. About 1"x.75"x2". It even fits into a J-box. And since they are hard-wired, they can be used with a dimmer (that handles electronic dimmers).
 
  #10  
Old 05-24-07, 08:02 AM
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"And spta97 - only $8k on cabinets? How did you get away with that? We have a small kitchen and the quotes are twice that and we're only looking into stock mid-level stuff."

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Really? I thought that was a lot. My cabinets are in an L-shape on an 8' x 10' wall and when you throw in the dish washer and fridge there are really not that many. The quote I got was at Home Depot and I was planning on getting more (cheaper) quotes!
 
  #11  
Old 05-24-07, 09:10 PM
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I'm leery of HD for cabinets, but we didn't give them a chance...

We have around 16 linear feet of cabinets minus the dishwasher and we're in the 13K on up range, uninstalled and no countertops.
 
  #12  
Old 05-25-07, 05:42 AM
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"I'm leery of HD for cabinets, but we didn't give them a chance..."

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Me too - that's why I haven't placed the order yet. Well that and I have no place to put them. I think the quality will be ok, but I hear nightmare stories about the people who actually fulfill the ordering.

I'm also going to be installing them myself - is your price installed? HD said it would be about $7k to install them. Yea...right
 
  #13  
Old 05-25-07, 05:58 PM
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No - about 15K for about 16 linear feet uninstalled. 7k to is a complete joke. I don't know where you are but there a million cabinet places.
 
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