Under cabinet lighting – hidden lighting at its best
Author: Martin James
Published: April 12, 2013
Basic common sense tells us that for a light to be most effective it should be high up and able to shine on the largest amount of space possible. So why on earth would you want to deliberately put lights underneath cabinets where you can't even see them? Read on as we explore the hidden benefits of under cabinet lighting, and highlight some of the most popular choices from Lyco's extensive product range.
Why under cabinet lighting?
The first question most people have when thinking about under cabinet lighting is quite simply why? Why go to the time and expense of installing lighting underneath kitchen cabinets when chances are the kitchen already has the brightest overhead light in the entire house as it is?
The answer lies exactly there – that bright kitchen light is certainly functional, but why should your kitchen be lit like a hospital ward when you choose lighting products elsewhere in the house to create mood, ambiance and aesthetic impact?
Under cabinet lighting – the benefits
Under cabinet lighting delivers just as much illumination to your kitchen work surfaces – which is primarily where you need it, after all – but can also be used to more attractively illuminate your cabinets themselves, focusing attention on the more stylish elements of the kitchen and keeping your eyes away from its more functional necessities.
The overall effect is to help transform your kitchen into a room with its own visual appeal, making it somewhere you actually enjoy spending time in for its own sake.
Lyco's extensive range of under cabinet lights covers fittings in all shapes and sizes, but in general they fall into one of two categories: cabinet downlights or cabinet striplights. The difference is simple – cabinet downlights are single lights typically installed in twos or threes under cabinets to provide more focused illumination, while cabinet striplights run the length of the shelf or cabinet for more general lighting.
They require more effort to set up, but there's no question that if used correctly cabinet downlights can add a touch of style that single striplights simply can't match. Often used slightly higher than striplights, under cabinet downlights are designed to be seen, and as such there are many visual styles available, including round, square and triangular downlights, options offering decorative glass covers and recessed downlights for the ultimate in aesthetic attractiveness.
Most modern cabinet downlights make use of energy-saving LED bulbs, which produce virtually no heat. Alternatively, halogen downlights are a popular choice largely for their affordability, but generate a lot of heat and are less eco-friendly.
Cabinet downlights are best suited to higher locations where the light housing itself may be visible, and situations where you want to provide direct lighting to a specific area.
Endon Surface-mounted LED downlights: a great all-round choice comprising a set of four lights offering smart design, a chrome finish and energy-saving efficiency. Each light incorporates 9 LEDs, comes with self-adhesive pads and is prewired with 1m of cable per light.
Eterna Low Voltage Triangle Light: visually striking yet discreet, the modern brushed nickel finish of the Eterna low voltage halogen light is as appealing as its unique triangular design. Up to five fittings can be connected with a transformer, and being a halogen light it's an affordable route to maximum downlighting impact.
Endon LED Downlights – Satin Chrome: this highly attractive set of three LED downlights can be either surface-mounted or recessed, with each fitting including 12 LEDs for a total power draw of under 1W per fitting. The LED driver, 1m of mains cable and connector block are all included, while you can extend the set by up to two additional fittings using the supplied transformer.
Striplights are a traditional favourite for under cabinet lighting, but the latest generation of cabinet striplights has discarded old-school fluorescent tubes for the latest in energy-saving LEDs. With multiple LEDs used in long strips the effect is the same is it always was – bright, even lighting from a single fixture that runs the length of the cabinet. Typically, cabinet striplights come in a choice of lengths, while some can be linked together to form a single longer striplight.
Cabinet striplights are best suited to providing general illumination to entire work surfaces, and are an ideal choice where the lights themselves won't be in direct view. Striplights also tend to be far simpler to install than downlights.
Endon Surface Mounted LED Striplight: available in 47 or 120-LED lengths, the polycarbonate construction of this powerful striplight means it's as strong as the illumination it delivers. It comes with a mains lead and mounting clips, while each fitting has an independent on/off rocker switch so you can control your lighting levels even with multiple fittings installed.
Eterna LED Linkable Striplights: for more subtle under cabinet striplighting, the 15-LED Eterna Linkable striplight might be just the thing. Each unit uses less than 2.5W of power, and can be easily linked up to other Eterna Link & Light products. It's an affordable and versatile striplighting option, and comes supplied with fixing kit and 2m of mains link lead.
We haven't forgotten about fluorescent striplights. Yes, LED alternatives are more efficient and environmentally friendly, but fluorescent lights are far cheaper and easier to install, and for that reason are hugely popular and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
The good news is fluorescent striplights are more efficient than they used to be. The basic T4 standard is the most affordable option if you do want to go fluorescent, while T5 specification lamps offer longer life and have a lower mercury content.
Eterna T4 Triphosphor Striplight – 16W: durable and affordable, it's easy to see the appeal in Eterna's T4 striplight. Offering a 9,000-hour average life, it's a highly cost-effective lighting option, while a choice of size and wattage options means you're sure to find the right fitting for your needs. Each fitting and 6-way connector comes with universal mounting brackets and 2m of cable for added convenience.
Eterna T5 High Frequency Striplight with Diffuser - 28W: for added energy-saving efficiency, the Eterna T5 with diffuser is a slimline fluorescent striplight which can be installed above or below eye-level. Individual on/off switches mean each fitting can be controlled independently, and the electronic starter cuts out the annoying flickering traditionally associated with switching on fluorescent lights.
Under cabinet lights are most commonly found in the kitchen, but they can be just as visually effective elsewhere. Instead of putting them under a cabinet, for instance, what about inside? Discreetly placed striplights can have a dramatic visual impact inside display cabinets, while installing spotlights beneath overhead shelves is another aesthetically pleasing use for these versatile lighting solutions.
The point is, under cabinet lights is just a name, and what you actually do with them in your own home is entirely up to you. Think creatively and you could stumble on a unique lighting effect you never thought possible.
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