Under Cabinet Lighting Install: From Start to Finish

Update (7/28): I added my installation video at the bottom of this post!

This was my first time with a “do it yourself” lighting project, so I wanted to share my experiences from the very beginning.  I absolutely love the finished results!  This project was surprisingly easy to tackle.   I completed the install in less than two hours, and the total cost was right around $100.

I highly recommend making this update to your kitchen!

Step 1: Assessing my needs

Because I knew I wanted to install the under cabinet fixtures on my own, I decided to look for a model that could be plugged in (rather than a hardwire-only model).  I am no electrician, and I felt more comfortable with a plug-in fixture.

The first thing I did was to figure out where I could plug them in.  Depending on how your kitchen is oriented, there are a couple of good places to check for hidden outlets to use for under cabinet lighting:

  • In any cabinet space above the microwave
  • Behind the refrigerator

Luckily, the kitchen I was installing in had outlets in both places!  I decided to use the one behind the refrigerator simply to avoid drilling holes through the cabinets.

Next, I measured the spaces underneath the cabinets to determine what sizes I needed to buy.  See this post on “How Many Under Cabinet Lights Do I Need?” for details on how to measure your cabinet “cavity.”

In the end, I purchased two xenon line voltage thin under cabinet task lights – one in a 22-inch length and one in a 14-inch (my cabinets were two different sizes).  I purchased a linking cable to connect the two fixtures and a 6-foot power cord to ensure I’d have enough wire to reach the outlet behind the refrigerator.

If you want additional information about the various types of under cabinet lighting and/or would like help determining which light fixture is right for you, check out this post on How to Choose Under Cabinet Lighting – it should make things clear.

Step 2: Gathering my tools

Most under cabinet lighting installations require:

  • Electric Drill
  • Measuring Tape
  • A Mechanical Pencil

I installed two light fixtures underneath cabinets that were separated by a microwave:

This picture's a little dark, but you can see the two cabinets I installed underneath.

So, I needed additional tools to secure the linking cable on the wall directly underneath the microwave.  I picked up coaxial staples from the local hardware store and used a hammer to secure them.  It was an easy solution!

Step 3: Marking where the fixtures will go

The under cabinet lighting fixtures I chose (xenon line voltage thin under cabinet task lights) included two mounting screws, so I wanted to mark the drilling locations.

To do this, I removed the lens cover from the light fixture and held the fixture underneath the cabinet in my desired location.  Then, I poked my pencil through the small holes in the fixture that are designated for the mounting screws.  I marked exactly where the screws should go.

Step 4: Drilling small holes underneath the cabinet for the mounting screws

Since I’d already marked the location of the holes, this step was fairly easy.

Step 5: Starting the screws in their holes

This made it easier to drill in the lighting fixture once it was in place.

Step 6: Finish installing the fixture

Holding the light fixture up, I used the electric drill to push the mounting screws through the fixture and into their holes.

That’s it!  After the first fixture was installed, I attached the linking cable, ran it underneath the microwave, installed the second fixture, and plugged it all in using my 6-foot power cord.

Here are some additional photos:

If you have any questions, comment below!

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.