Table of Contents
- Why LED Strip Lights?
- How to Install LED Strip Lights Under Cabinets
- Common Issues When Installing LED Strip Lights and What You Can Do About Them
- Final Thoughts
Installing LED strip lights under kitchen cabinets (or any cabinet, really) is a growing trend in home lighting for different reasons. They are low-voltage, energy-efficient, and can be installed in numerous ways to fit your specific needs. Plus, they just look darn cool.
Despite their amazing features, the entire installation process can be a daunting task for those who are unfamiliar with the process. There are a few common challenges that people face when trying to install LED strip lights under cabinets, such as getting the correct length of the strip, finding a good place to hide the transformer and/or power supply, and connecting the wires without causing any damage.
We understand that not everyone is comfortable with home improvement tasks, so we’re here to walk you through the entire process step-by-step. In this article, we’ll discuss how to install LED strip lights under cabinets, particularly kitchen cabinets, why you’d want to choose this method, and some common issues you may experience along the way.
Whether you’re a seasoned home improvement pro or a complete novice, we encourage you to give this project a try. This project is a fun and easy way to update your home’s lighting, adding a touch of modernity and energy efficiency in the process. So, let’s get started!
Why LED Strip Lights?
Lighting up dark areas, like the spaces under cabinets, can be a challenge. You might have tried different light fixtures or lamps, but they still don’t quite do the job or aren’t able to fit and be hidden the way you want. For many homeowners or shop owners, the answer is LED strip lights.
LED strip lights are an excellent option for lighting up dark spaces because they:
- Are very bright
- Are long-lasting
- Come in a variety of colors
- Create even light distribution
- Are energy-efficient
- Are slim enough to be hidden
Installing LED strip lights is a great way to make your kitchen brighter and more functional (or your garage workspace or wherever your cabinets are). Not only do they provide ample light to work under, but they also add a touch of elegance, a warm glow, and a lot of personality to your space.
How to Install LED Strip Lights Under Cabinets
Installing LED strip lights under cabinets is a relatively straightforward process. The exact procedure can be applied to other home cabinets such as a bookshelf, entertainment center, garage workspace, or even the pantry.
What You Need:
Before you get started, it’s crucial to gather the necessary supplies and tools:
- LED strip lights
- Transformer/power supply
- Wire strippers
- Caulking gun
- Tape measure
- Safety glasses
Step 1: Plan for Your Kitchen’s Lighting Layout
Before you do anything, take some time to plan your kitchen’s lighting layout based on where you’ll need or want the lighting. This will help you determine the placement of the LED strip lights and how many you’ll need.
When planning for your layout, be sure to consider things like the size of your cabinets, the shape of your kitchen, and the types of tasks you’ll be performing in that space. You’ll also want to decide where you want the light to be the brightest.
In most situations, a light fixture should be placed beneath each set of cabinet doors in your kitchen. This will provide even and adequate lighting while you’re working, cooking, baking, eating, cleaning, passing time with family, and anything else you’ll be doing in your kitchen. We tend to congregate in the kitchen a lot, don’t we? Then again, if there are brownies in the oven…well you’ll know where to find me!
If your cabinets are particularly large, you might want to consider adding additional light fixtures. You can also install LED strip lights on the inside of your cabinets, which will create a soft glow when the doors are closed.
Step 2: Select the Right LED Strip Lights
Once you’ve determined your kitchen’s layout and lighting plan, it’s time to start shopping for LED strip lights for under kitchen cabinets.
When selecting LED strip lights, be sure to consider the following factors:
Length of the strip – You’ll need to purchase an LED strip light that is the correct length for your cabinets. It’s important to measure the distance between each cabinet and the ceiling before making a purchase. Keep in mind that it is possible to cut LED strip lights to shorten them and connect them together to lengthen them. This must be done one of a few specific ways and generally depends on the individual lights you buy, so we’ve written a guide on how to properly cut, connect, and power LED strip lights.
Width of the strip – Make sure to select an LED strip light that is the correct width for your cabinets. Most LED strip lights are available in either a 1-inch or 3-inch width.
Color of the light – LED strip lights come in a variety of colors, so be sure to choose one that will complement your kitchen’s décor. Do you prefer a warm or cool white hue, or are you looking for fun colors to add some extra character to your space?
Voltage – LED strip lights are available in 12-volt and 24-volt varieties. Make sure to select the correct voltage for your transformer/power supply.
Power requirements – LED strip lights require a transformer/power supply to function. Be sure to select a transformer with the correct power requirements for your LED strip lights. Most LED strip lights you purchase will come with a transformer/power supply.
Step 3: Drill Holes for the LED Strip Lights
Here’s where most people are afraid of doing – drilling holes. But don’t worry – this is a relatively easy process, and with a little guidance, you can do it yourself at home like a pro.
When drilling holes for the LED strip lights, be sure to:
Wear Safety Glasses
Better safe than sorry! When drilling into your cabinets, always wear safety glasses. This will protect your eyes from any flying debris.
Measure the distance between each cabinet and the ceiling before drilling any holes. This will ensure that the LED strip lights are installed in the correct location. Don’t forget to mark the location of each hole with a pencil. It is important not to skimp on this process – measurements and markings will ensure a professional-looking installation.
It’s like what they say – measure twice, drill once. If you’re unsure about your first measurement, don’t hesitate to do it again. You have to drill holes properly the first time around. Once holes have been drilled, it’s not easy to undo it, so make sure it’s done correctly from the start!
Drill at the Right Angle
It’s important to drill the holes at the correct angle. This makes it easier to install the LED strip lights and prevents them from being crooked. Essentially, make sure you are holding the drill so that it is perpendicular to the wall as you’re drilling, or else you’ll be going at it diagonally.
Use a Level
Which brings us to our next point to use a level and make sure that your drill is level when drilling the holes. Using a level will ensure that they are drilled in a straight line. Using a drill, bore two holes in the underside of each cabinet for the LED strip lights. The holes should be directly below where the light fixtures will be installed. You should use a pencil to mark the location of the holes before drilling.
Once the holes have been drilled, use a caulking gun to apply caulk around the edge of each hole. This will create a watertight seal and prevent moisture from entering the cabinet.
Empty Your Cabinets!
Definitely not speaking from experience here (wink, wink) but do make sure that your cabinets are empty before you start drilling! The last thing you want to do is drill a hole through the fine china that has been passed down through the generations in your family.
Step 4: Install the LED Strip Lights
Once the holes have been drilled, it’s time to install the LED strip lights. But don’t turn it on just yet!
Before applying anything under the cabinets, ensure that they’re free from dirt and dust. You can use a vacuum cleaner or a damp cloth to clean the surface.
Remove the adhesive backing from the strip light and adhere it to the underside of the cabinet. Make sure that it is in the correct location and is straight. Use the holes that you’ve drilled earlier to hide the wiring.
Once the strip light is in place, use a drill or screwdriver to secure it in place. This will ensure that it doesn’t move around while you’re working. Repeat these steps for each cabinet.
Step 5: Connect the Power Supply
Once the LED strip light is in place, it’s time to connect the power supply. Locate the transformer/power supply and plug it into an outlet. Connect the wires from the transformer to the LED strip light.
Step 6: Turn Them on and Test Your Lights
Now it’s time to turn on your newly installed LED strip lights to test them out! Flip the switch on the transformer/power supply. Carefully inspect the LED strip lights to make sure they are working correctly and are illuminated in all the right areas. If everything looks good, turn off the transformer and screw it back in place.
You’re done! Congratulations, you’ve just installed LED strip lights under your kitchen cabinets like a pro.
Common Issues When Installing LED Strip Lights and What You Can Do About Them
Given you’ve followed the instructions above, it’s not likely that you’ll experience any problems when installing your LED strip lights under cabinets. However, if you do encounter some issues, here are a few things that you can do about it:
The LED Strip Lights Aren’t Working
If the LED strip lights aren’t working (illuminating/turning on), the first thing to check is the transformer/power supply. Make sure that it is plugged into an outlet and that the wires are properly connected. If it is plugged in and the wires are connected, then there may be a problem with the strip light itself. You may have to replace the LED light strip with a new one; some products come with a warranty, which is something you may want to factor into your buying decision.
The LED Strip Lights Are Flickering
If the LED strip lights are flickering, it could be because they are overloaded. Try removing a few of the LED lights to see if that solves the problem. If it does, then you may need to get a transformer/power supply that is more powerful.
The LED Strip Lights Are Warping
If the LED strip lights are warping, it could be because they are being exposed to too much heat. Try moving them to a cooler location or removing the source of excessive heat if possible.
The LED Strip Lights Are Too Bright
If the LED strip lights are too bright, you can try covering them with some black electrical tape. This will reduce the amount of light that they emit. Additionally, you may want to opt for a lower-powered LED strip light. They also make dimmable LED strip lights where you can adjust the brightness level, which is something you can factor into your buying decision if this is an aspect of the lighting that is important to you.
We hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on how to install LED strip lights under cabinets. The installation process is often straightforward and doesn’t require any major tools or professional skills. Just follow our simple instructions, and you’ll be good to go! It takes an average of one to two hours to install LED strip lights under kitchen cabinets, so it’s definitely a project that you can knock out in a single day (depending on how many cabinets you have, of course!).
The lighting effect from LED strip lights looks great under the cabinets in your kitchen, garage, etc. In addition to looking nice, they transform your space into a super functional area, too! After all, it’s hard to get anything done without proper lighting, and the sleek glow from underneath your kitchen cabinets will definitely impress your guests. All in all, installing LED strip lights under cabinets is a surefire way to spruce up your space, even when you’re on a budget.