Under cabinet lights for kitchen

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  #1  
Old 08-22-14, 07:49 AM
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Under cabinet lights for kitchen

I am considering some under cabinet lights to lit the kitchen countertop.

They have quite a few variety, strips, pucks, halogens, LEDs, line voltage, low voltage, battery operated etc...

I would like the switch for it to be part of my kitchen counter wall switch. Dimmable preferably. I don't like the special switch that comes with many of these that you have to mount with double sided tapes.

So with that said it seems my options are the line voltage ones.

Looking at those many of them are the plugged in kind. That means you have to mount a big box either inside a cabinet or under the cabinet. Then all the lights are routed to the box and plugged in there. That seems pretty messy with a lot of wires tangled together. I guess if I have a range hood in the middle, I will need to do two sets of these.

So here are my questions.

If I add two new receptacles inside the wall cabinet, or on the underside of the wall cabinet for this box to plug in, are these two new receptacles considered part of the SABC? Should they be wired into the circuits for the existing SABC because they are receptacles "on, near, above" the countertop? Or should they be wired to the kitchen lighting circuit which I believe is more appropriate because it is lighting, but doesn't prevent anyone from plugging a blender into that.

Second question is, those box that comes with these light sets, which the plugs plug into, are those just nothing more than an extension cord? I read the manufacturer's instructions and it does say do not modify those plugs...I assume the plugs are polarized, but they are properly labeled. I am wondering if there is any reason I cannot:

(1) Cut the wires shorter to the appropriate lengths that is needed, instead of having to bunch up a 5' cord when the light is 18" away. I can reassemble the plug or even get a new plug.

(2) Do away with the plugs and directly wire the cords to a central location and splice them together in a junction box, and do away with the manufacturer's box with wires plugging in from all directions and could accidentally be pulled off or fall off.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-22-14, 08:10 AM
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I would try and look for a hardwired system to avoid the drawbacks of the cords. Do you have access to bare studs or is the kitchen already finished?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-22-14 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 08-22-14, 08:54 AM
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As PC said, it's best to hardwire.
Check out the Juno LED's. They're expensive but I think the best and easiest to install.
With hardwire, you will have no cables you need to hide. The cable will come out of the wall directly behind the fixture.
If you have an attic you can get the cables where needed. It takes some effort, but we can help you here with advice. The hardest walls to run cable down are any exterior walls.
 
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Old 08-22-14, 09:10 AM
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Here's a picture of the under cabinet light. Typical housing, but the LED's put out nice light and are energy efficient.

Attachment 36828
 
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Old 08-22-14, 09:45 AM
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Kitchen is existing and finished.

But the adjoining space on the other side of the kitchen is open. I had to open that wall in order to address other plumbing and electrical issues, so that wall cavity is completely accessible.

I can easily tap into the existing lighting circuit (a 20A circuit with 9 recessed kitchen lights, 65W each, so taking up just 4.8A) or six other 20A circuits - one for refrigerator dedicated, two others for two countertop receptacles, one for microwave, one for range hood, one for DW/disposer. I assume a hardwire system I will tap into the lighting circuit? But if not hardwired and a NEW receptacle is to be added, do I tap into the SABC or the lighting circuit for a cabinet light receptacle?
 
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Old 08-22-14, 10:39 AM
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Tap into the lighting circuit. If this is the only wall you want to add U/C lights to, this will be a cake walk.
I would not add a receptacle. I would purchase lights (direct wire), see where the cable needs to enter the back of the housing, then run cable accordingly and accurately.
Once you decide where you will tap off lighting, run this power to switch and then to fixtures.
When wiring U/C lights, it helps to have only one cable entering each fixture, post back if you need help on how to best do this.
 
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Old 08-22-14, 10:45 AM
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I can easily tap... two others for two countertop receptacles... one for DW/disposer.
Those can not be used for lighting. Counter top receptacles can't be used for other purposes. DW/GD should be a dedicated circuit.
or six other 20A circuits - one for refrigerator dedicated.... one for microwave,
Both of those can be on the counter top circuit.
one [circuit] for range hood...
Range hood if hood only, no microwave, can be on lighting circuit so that circuit could be used for under cabinet lights.
 
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Old 08-22-14, 12:25 PM
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When wiring U/C lights, it helps to have only one cable entering each fixture
Thanks, I assume by that you mean each fixture, whether those are strips or hockey pucks, you would run a wire from the switch to each fixture. So if you have say six hockey pucks, you would run six wires to the back side of each, and connect to the fixture? Instead of connecting to one fixture, then daisy chain the rest in a series?
 
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Old 08-22-14, 12:29 PM
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Those can not be used for lighting. Counter top receptacles can't be used for other purposes. DW/GD should be a dedicated circuit.
I think I get what you are saying.

The reason I wondered if it needs to be part of the countertop receptacle circuit, is if the UC lights are the plugged in kind and not hard wired, then I have no choice but to make a new receptacle for it, and it may be located inside a cabinet or surface mounted to the bottom of a wall cabinet, and in those cases, even thought I am using it for lighting, it does not prevent someone else to plug a coffee machine or blender into it. So when I looked at it that way, I wasn't sure how to classify that receptacle.
 
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Old 08-22-14, 02:20 PM
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So if you have say six hockey pucks, you would run six wires to the back side of each, and connect to the fixture
No,
My example of running a cable to each fixture was for lights with an enclosure, such as a 30" under cabinet light.
PUC lighting will have a wiring junction box, the PUCs will extend out from there using their own cables.
Someone may correct me, I haven't seen any PUCs that accept a #14 NM cable.
 
  #11  
Old 08-22-14, 03:48 PM
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The problem I see with enclosed lights is because those have set lengths like 18", 30" etc...and the wall cabinets I have are also of set lengths, but they are not the same across, so I have 30" wide cabinets, 16" wides, and a few skinny ones like 10" wide, there is a "strip" that runs between each wall cabinet, so if I do enclosed lights, I have to have one under each cabinet and that is not practical since I have eleven cabinets across...if I use hockey pucks I can space them out by distance.
 
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Old 08-22-14, 04:26 PM
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True, you can space the PUCs.
You can space out the enclosures also by cutting out the strip (and using a few different widths), I've done it many times and it will not effect the integrity of the cabinet.

Assuming you have a 3/4" recess at cabinet bottom, the Strip should be (2) 1/2" sides of the cabinets with a small gap between.

These can be cut out the width (depth) you need to install light. Usually only 4" or so from back.
You need a special tool to cut cleanly; an oscillating tool or what is called a multi-tool.

Either PUC or enclosure put out very good light. I like to avoid wires though.
 
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