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5 Types of Under Cabinet Lighting: Pros & Cons

5 Types of Under Cabinet Lighting: Pros & Cons

Whether it’s in the kitchen, office, or over a craft table, sometimes your work space needs more light. Under cabinet lights, also known as countertop lights, have been around for a long time, but with new options becoming available the trend has gained a new life. Don’t let the amount of choices leave you in the dark; be aware of the pros and cons of each type.

Xenon Fixtures

While they might one of the oldest technologies in under cabinet lighting, the xenon fixture is still highly regarded by some because of its perfect color rendering index (CRI). The clean, white light emitted by these babies can make that marble or granite countertop really pop. However, they do get hot, really hot. Hot enough that we recommend using them more for task lighting than an all-day lighting source, and you’ll want to keep meltable food, fresh flowers, or fruit away from the light.

Pros:

  • Can come with 3-way switch high-low-off functions
  • Lower initial cost than other options
  • Hard-wired or plug-in options
  • Near 100 CRI
  • Dimmable

Cons:

  • Consumes large amount of energy
  • High heat emission

Puck Lights

Named for their hockey puck shape, puck lights are a very popular type of under cabinet lighting. Puck lights can use xenon, halogen, or LED light bulbs depending on where you’re using them and personal preference. If color purity is very important to you, then the CRI of almost 100 you get with xenon and halogen bulbs is what you need. However, if you’re more concerned about having a long-lasting, low-heat emission bulb, then go with the LED. Often puck lights can be found in battery-powered models that simply stick to the underside of cabinets making them a great option for people who are renting or don’t want to deal with wiring lights.

Pros:

  • Can come in easy-to-install, battery-powered options (LED only)
  • More focused light
  • Can be dimmable
  • Very affordable
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Emits circles of light instead of more even lighting
  • Get really hot when used with halogen bulbs

Fluorescent Fixtures

A classic type of under cabinet lighting, fluorescent fixtures are still a popular choice. Nowadays, fluorescent fixtures typically use T5 bulbs which are a lot smaller in diameter than the T12 bulbs that were once the norm. The CRI isn’t nearly as high as xenon or halogen fixtures but neither is the heat emission. Fluorescent under cabinet lighting is a good middle-of-the-road option that can work for a lot of applications that don’t need anything too fancy.

Pros:

  • Most can be connected together for more even lighting
  • Run cooler than xenon and halogen fixtures
  • Hard-wired or plug-in options
  • Brighter than other options

Cons:

  • Color rendering may not be high enough for some applications or preferences
  • Pricing about the same as LED fixtures
  • Dimmer than other options

LED Fixtures

The newest and most energy-efficient option for under cabinet lighting are the LED fixtures and LED light bars. These types of countertop lights are the most versatile, since LEDs can come in any color temperature and several brightness levels. Keep in mind the LED fixtures are wider than the light bars.

Pros:

  • Can come with 3-way switch high-low-off functions
  • Most can be connected together for more even lighting
  • Run cooler than xenon and halogen fixtures
  • Brighter than many other options
  • Hard-wired or plug-in options
  • Very sturdy design
  • Can be dimmable
  • Long life span

Cons

  • Color rendering may not be high enough for some applications or preferences
  • Some fixtures may require separate power supply
  • Higher initial cost than other options

LED Strip Light

Let’s say you don’t need or want a “fixture” under your cabinets and you want a more even light than you’d get with puck lights. In that case, an effective solution would be LED strip light. If installed correctly, you should never see the LEDs, just the light produced by it. Since LED strip lights aren’t as bright as under cabinet fixtures, this option should mostly be used for accent lighting or in room that already has strong overhead lighting.

Pros:

  • Can be mounted end to end for truly even lighting, no dark or “dead spots”
  • Practically invisible when installed
  • Comes in waterproof options
  • Peel and stick installation
  • Very inexpensive
  • Long life span

Cons:

  • Color rendering may not be high enough for some applications or preferences
  • Use of a track and lens may be needed, adding extra expense
  • Some fixtures may require separate power supply
  • Dimmer than most other options

Do you have strong feelings about under cabinet lighting? Drop your opinion in the comments section below and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or Pinterest for more lighting pros, cons, and advice. Don’t forget our lighting gurus are standing by (during business hours, of course) to help you with your next project

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