One of the most popular types of lighting is under-cabinet lighting. Not only does it illuminate space that would normally be left untouched, it offers a modern alternative to classic ceiling spotlights and other accent lighting. Under-cabinet lighting can be installed two ways, either with a plug-in unit or a hard-wired system. Plug-in lights are obviously easier to install, however, you are left with wires that can ruin the aesthetic that you’re going for. If you want to hard-wire your under-cabinet lighting you can enjoy no exposed wires and an easy to use control box to switch them on and off. In this blog, we’re going to look at how to hardwire under-cabinet lighting. Trust us, it’s easier than it looks!
Hard-wiring means running a new cable to a new switch box that you need to install and pulling the cable from the switch to each fixture. The first step when planning your under-cabinet lighting is to work out exactly where you want to place them. Ideally, you will disturb the walls and splashback as little as possible so it pays to take your time to find the ideal placements. Check if the backsplash is removable before you start as you will be able to cut a channel in the wallboard above the back of the countertop. If it’s not removable you still need to access the wall so add in extra time for this!
Note: If you plan to add new wires or light switches to an existing outlet, make sure the electrical box that houses the outlet has enough room. You will have to replace the box with a larger one if not. Remember to switch off the power before starting this project!
Installing your under-cabinet lights
- First of all, find the knockout in the back of your chosen light fixture. This is the pre-scored hole that’s designed to run wire through without the need to drill extra holes. Take out this knockout plate using a screwdriver to pry it loose.
- Plot exactly where you want to place the light fixture, by placing the light where you want it to be and drawing an ‘X’ on the surface directly across from the knockout hole. Take care to ensure there is not a stud where you need to drill! You need to run cable and the stud will prevent you from doing this.
- Drill a hole into the X that is big enough to run the cable through, we recommend using a ½ inch spade bit for this. Once the hole is drilled, measure the distance between it and the electrical box. Add around 16-inches to this length and that’s how much cable you need to cut in order for it to have enough slack as it runs through the wall.
- Run the cable through the hole towards the electrical box. You should be able to reach into the wall and grab the cable to pull it through to the electrical box.
- On the light fixture, take off the cover and the socket strip until you’re left with just the casing. Place the light fixture where it is going to be installed and screw the fixture to the cabinet using the screws provided in your kit.
- Insert a cable clamp into the knockout hole to keep the cable in place and protected from any damage. Unscrew the plate that locks the clamp and once it is in place, screw the plate back in from the outside of the light fixture.
- Run the cable from the hole in the wall into the knockout hole in the light fixture. Using wire strippers, remove the coating around the end of the cable and connect the exposed wires to the corresponding wires in the fixture.
- Put the cover and socket strip back on to the light fixture and make sure that all connections are secure. Place the lightbulbs you are using with your chosen under-cabinet lighting into the fixture.
- Once everything is connected and secure, turn the power back on to the room to test your work. Hopefully, your new under-cabinet lights are working and look fantastic!