How To Brighten Up Your Kitchen With Under-Cabinet LED Strip Lights

Adding lights to the underside of your kitchen cabinets can do a lot to brighten up the space. It can also make it easier to see what you’re doing when you cook or clean on your countertops. But the project can be overwhelming if you look at it as one big challenge.

This blog post will break that challenge down into much more manageable parts. It’ll go into each step, showing you where to start and what things to watch out for. That way you can feel confident if you want to tackle the job yourself.

Research Phase

There are a lot of things to consider if you are looking at attaching under cabinet LEDs. So, the first thing you’ll need to do is find the answers to several questions.

  • Do you want to control the lights from a switch on the wall?
  • Do you want them to be dimmable or able to change colors?
  • If you want them to be white, what temperature do you want them to be?
  • How do you want to mount the strips?
  • How bright do you want them to be?
  • Do you need them to be waterproof?
  • Where are the wires going to run?
  • Are you comfortable soldering the connections yourself?

You need to answer these and any situation-specific questions before you get started. That way you’ll know what tools and materials you need to get before you start working. It'll also help you adapt to anything that comes up during the project.

For this post, you'll hook the LEDs into the house’s electrical system and control them with a wall switch. They’re a standard white, and you'll house the strips in aluminum channels. The wires were placed as part of a new kitchen installation. Finally, you’ll be soldering the connections yourself. If you are deciding on a different set up for your kitchen, take the time to plan ahead.

Connecting to Power

You’ll start by hooking up to your house’s electrical system. The first step when doing any electrical work is to make sure to turn the power off where you need it to be. Once that’s done and double checked, you can install the transformer. Make sure that all the wires you need can reach where you decide to put it. With the transformer screwed in place, you can expose the connections on the supply side. If you aren’t using the plug that came with it, you can remove it from the transformer at that point.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Now you can figure out where you want the electrical wires to go and cut off the extra. Then strip the conductor wires and slip them under the terminals. Tighten down the connections before you replace the cover. With that done, move to the load side and repeat the process with the low-voltage wires.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

You don't want too many wires trying to squeeze into one terminal. To avoid that, you can pigtail the ends of wires that match colors to a single matching wire. Strip the wires’ ends, twist them together, and tighten them down with a wire nut. Make sure that all the colors match, and the nut is nice and snug. Then you can slip that single wire into the terminal and tighten it down.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Keep track of which terminal each color of wire attaches to. That will help things go well later on. You can copy a car battery here to make it easier. Keep the red wire for the positive terminal and the black wire for the negative. After that, check that the voltage on the other end is stepping down to the right level. Then all you need to do is test that the switch is working before moving on to mounting.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Attaching the Aluminum Mounting Channels

When you get ready to mount the aluminum channels, first you need to cut them to fit under your cabinets. Measure the space and transfer that measurement to the channel. Then cut it with either a hacksaw or a cutting tool. A file can knock down any sharp edges after that’s done.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Many kits come with little brackets you can use to mount the channels. You’ll need to drill pilot holes into the bottom of your cabinets to screw the brackets in place. You can wrap a piece of tape around the drill bit to keep from drilling too deep and punching through. With the mounting brackets in place, you should be able to snap the channel into them.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Soldering Connections and Placing the LED Strips

Now you can start connecting all the LED strips. First up is to cut the strip to the lengths you need. There will be places along the LED strip that you can cut without damaging lights. The positive and negative connections should also have a label for you.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Once you have the lengths you need, it’s time to prep the wires. If you want to use heat-shrink for a cleaner look, go ahead and remove the outer sheath to your conductor wires. Now you can strip the ends of the wires, twist the copper, and add some solder to allow for a better connection later. Then slip on the heat-shrink and use a heat gun to get it set.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Add a bit of solder to the strip light connections so that you have a good base to solder the wires to the strip. Solder the two together, then test the lights. If it's working, you can cover the connection with some more heat-shrink to protect it.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

Finally it’s time to peel the backing off the LED strip lights and stick them into the channels. Once that’s done, repeat the soldering process for the rest of your LED strips. If your kit includes diffusion covers, you can clip them into place afterwards.

flush water heater - shut off cold water

And that’s it! You should have a set of LED lights brightening up your kitchen whenever you flip the switch. If you would like a more detailed walk-through of these steps, along with a few pro tips, check out the video here. And if you decide that it's a bigger project than you’d like to tackle yourself, Any Hour Service has licensed electricians that would be happy to help. You can book online or call to set up an appointment.

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Author: Nathanael Stuver
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Jun 17th 2033

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