New Home Project: Over Cabinet Lighting

Over Cabinet LightingThis is the third blog post of my New Home Project post series.  This series of posts details the lighting projects that I have undertaken in my new home.  My first post reviewed the installation of our under cabinet lighting and my second post covered the use of microfluorescent T4 fixtures as pantry and closet lighting.  This post will also talk about microfluorescent T4 fixtures, but this time using them as over cabinet lighting in my kitchen.

While my house was under construction, I had the electricians install electrical outlets on either side of my kitchen directly above my cabinets.  These outlets are controlled by a single wall switch.  Once we moved into our home, I measured the total length of the cabinets where I could place the microfluorescent fixtures.

Since I knew I was going to be using a number of fixtures (both for my over cabinet as well as my pantry and closet lighting) I chose one size to be used in all of my lighting projects.  This made stocking replacement fluorescent lamps easy since I only needed to worry about one size / wattage lamp.  For all of my microfluorescent T4 uses I chose a 24-watt fixture (34.5 inches long).  I also made the decision to use warm white instead of cool white lamps.  As I stated in my pantry and closet lighting post, I prefer the warmer color temperature for a residential setting.

To ensure that I had enough light and to minimize dark spots between fixtures, I installed two rows of microfluorescent T4s on top of my cabinets.  Each microfluorescent fixture comes with a cord and plug, two mounting clips with screws, and an inline direct connector.

Microfluorescent T4 Fixture
Microfluorescent T4 Fixture

In addition to being plugged into an electrical outlet, the microfluoresent fixtures can be linked together using either the included inline direct connector or a 90-degree direct connector, 3-way direct connector, or flexible linking cables.  When I purchased my fixtures, I purchased a number of flexible linking cables to create a chain of fixtures above my cabinets.  Since I used 24-watt fixtures, I was able to link together five fixtures on one outlet.  In general, the maximum wattage in one chain of T4 fixtures is 200 watts.  However, for the 22-watt and above fixtures that are on a single circuit, five linked together is the max.

To say that my over cabinet lighting installation was easy is a severe understatement.  In fact, I am not aware of too many projects that are easier that I have tackled.  Clearly having the electrical outlets and switch installed during construction helped my cause.  However, one of the reasons that I am big fan of our microfluorescent fixtures is how easy they are to install for a number of different uses.  I think that my entire installation took 15-20 minutes.  I simply placed each fixture directly on top of my cabinets.  I then linked one fixture to another until I had my maximum of five.  Once I had five, I moved on to another chain of fixtures using another one of my outlets above the kitchen cabinets.  I spaced out my two rows of fixtures to maximize the light and minimize dark spots.  Finally, once I had the placement of each fixture the way I wanted, I screwed one or two mounting clips per fixture into the top of a cabinet in order to minimize future movement of any fixture.

Voila!  That was it.  I then turned on my switch and I was done.  I had fantastic over cabinet lighting that, I think, looks great (pics below)!  One idea that I wanted to do, but something got lost in communication between me and the electricians, was to have each row of microfluorescent fixtures over my cabinets on separate switches.  This way I could have one row of fixtures on to create a “low” light setting, and then turn on the second row to have a “high” light setting.  Unfortunately, the electricians and I did not get on the same page and I only have one switch for both rows of lighting.  No big deal, but the individual switches for each row of fixtures would have been cool.  If you can, you should try it.

My next new home project post will be about replacing all of the light switches in my house with Maestro dimmers and switches from Lutron.  This is another relatively easy lighting project with lots of bang.

If you would like to read past posts in my New Home Project series click one of the links below:

Are you tackling any lighting projects?  Let us know and share your pictures with us.  You can post your lighting project info and pics to the Pegasus Lighting Facebook page.  When possible we also try to post pics of our customer’s lighting projects to our Design Center page.  Make sure to check it out and take a look at some of our customer’s projects.

If you have any questions about over cabinet lighting or our microfluorescent fixtures please submit a comment below.  We would really enjoy hearing from you and helping however we can.

Electrical Outlet
One of the electrical outlets controlled by a switch over my kitchen cabinets.

Microfluorescent T4 fixture attached to top of cabinet with one mounting clip
Microfluorescent T4 fixture with included mounting clip

Over Cabinet Lighting
Over Cabinet Lighting On

Over Cabinet Lighting Off

Row of Microfluorescent T4 Fixtures | Over Cabinet Lighting
Rows of microfluorescent T4 fixtures over my cabinets

Maestro light switch
The switch on the left turns on/off my over cabinet lighting
Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

I am the President & CEO of Pegasus Lighting. Beyond my day job, my professional interests include small business, technology, web design and development, operations, marketing, and social media. My personal interests include spending time with my two children and wonderful wife, reading presidential history and business books, and striving for my work | life balance.

  • Jonathan Cortis

    Good article, with some good ideas :) …well done.

  • RCT

    just the idea I was thinking to do in our kitchen, thanks for the article

  • Mickie

    What would you recommend to set a warmer glow, to create more ambiance?

    • Chris Johnson


      If you are interested in over cabinet lighting you can do a couple of different things:

      1) You can go the way I did and choose warm color temperature fluorescent fixtures. One thing I would have liked to have done, but it did not work out, was to have my two rows of fixtures on separate switches. This way I could have a high and low setting to my lighting.

      2) You could go with a dimmable LED tape light ( Again, if you are looking for warmth then choose a warm color temp (3500K or below if you can).

      3) You could go with xenon light strip ( This is quite “warm” and dimmable. I personally am a big fan of xenon lighting.

  • Lisa Walik

    Do you have solutions that are wireless or can be controlled via remote? I rent and hard wiring is an issue. Have 18 inches above cabinets with 10′ ceilings. Thank you!

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