Recently, my family and I moved into a new home. We had lived in our previous home for more than seven years (loving every minute in our old house). But we were starting to get just a little cramped as our family had grown from just the two of us to now the four of us. While packing and moving is no fun at all, I was looking forward to the new house because I had some big plans for our lighting. I mean, hey, I do work for a lighting company.
Over the next couple of blog posts, I am going to share the lighting projects that I have tackled in our new home (including pics). Some projects I did and others I had professional electricians perform. My first new home project was adding under cabinet lights. I had under cabinet lighting installed in our previous home and there was just no way I was not going to have my under cabinet lighting. I literally cannot live without them. We have a favorite saying in our household when we talk about something we want or like. We say, “It’s a quality of life issue.” Well, under cabinet lighting is a “quality of life issue for me.”
Like our previous home, we built our new house. Thus, we were able to ensure that all of the necessary wiring for future lighting was installed during the building process. Clearly, this is one of the great benefits of building one’s own home. However, I am always amazed at what electricians can do even after a house is built. So, if you are reading this post and saying, “Oh well, our house is already built,” don’t let that stop you from adding great under cabinet lighting to your kitchen, or tackling any other home lighting project. Just call a good electrician; no doubt they can help you out.
When I was thinking about just what kind of under cabinet lights to install I had one major requirement – dimmability. Being able to dim my lighting is another one of those “quality of life issues.” First, I want the flexibility that dimmers provide to vary the amount of light based upon the mood I may want for the room or to match the task being performed. Secondly, dimming the lights conserves energy and saves me money.
Since dimming was important to me, I was not going to use fluorescent under cabinet lighting. However, fluorescent is not a bad under cabinet lighting choice. It just wasn’t for me. Fluorescent under cabinet lights are very energy efficient fixtures in providing a given amount of light and very cool to the touch. Being cool is a great benefit. Depending upon what is stored in the cabinets and what the cabinets are made of, having the fixture run cool may be a very important feature. Finally, today’s fluorescent technology is not the technology of yesterday. Today’s fluorescent under cabinet lights turn on immediately with no flickering.
I decided to use our Xenon Line Voltage Thin Under Cabinet Task Lights in a brushed nickel finish. I am a huge fan of xenon under cabinet lighting. While the xenon fixtures still get hot under the cabinet, they do not get nearly as hot as halogen. Plus, when I heard that we were going to start selling these thin, low profile under cabinet fixtures I was immediately “sold.” I cannot say enough good things about these new fixtures. They provide a fantastic, warm light, they are dimmable, replacing the xenon bulbs are super easy because the glass diffuser door has a magnetic closure, and you can easily link the fixtures together. Plus, they are really low profile. You really need to bend down and look under the cabinet to see the fixture. I really love these fixtures.
Prior to ordering my new under cabinet fixtures I measured the cavity dimensions underneath my cabinets. My cavity dimensions meant that I needed to install only one fixture under each cabinet, but your cavity dimensions might require you to link two or more fixtures together, which is very easy since these lights are linkable. In fact, I have a friend who has installed these fixtures in his kitchen. Underneath his large cabinets he has linked two of these fixtures together to maximize the amount and continuity of his task lighting.
Once I received the under cabinet lights I handed them off to our electrician and before I knew it they were installed and looking great! The only remaining step was installing a dimmer to control my new lights. Before purchasing my dimmer I needed to figure out how much wattage the dimmer needed to control. My new under cabinet lights use a total of 520 watts of electricity. So, I was considering choosing a 600-watt dimmer. However, since my dimmer switch was going to be installed in a double gang wall box right next to an electrical outlet, I needed to “de-rate” the dimmer. A dimmer’s wattage rating is given for a single gang wall box. When you install a dimmer in a multiple gang wall box you must remove heat fins and this reduces the wattage rating of the dimmer switch.
So, I chose a Maestro 1000-watt line voltage dimmer from Lutron. I really like the look of the Maestro dimmers and the clean look of the Claro faceplates that are used in conjunction with the Maestro dimmer. This also meant I needed to replace the standard electrical outlet with an electrical outlet from Lutron that can be used with the Claro faceplate. Installing the dimmer switch and the new electrical outlet took me only 15 minutes. The hardest part of the install was figuring out what breaker to turn off at my electrical box.
Below are pictures of my new under cabinet lighting, dimmer, and electrical outlet. My next new home project blog post will be about my new pantry lighting using our Microfluorescent T4 fixtures around an interior doorframe.
BEFORE / AFTER Under Cabinet Lighting
Xenon Line Voltage Under Cabinet Task Light Installed
Switch & Outlet BEFORE / AFTER