How to Install Lighting Under Kitchen Units and Fit Down-lights to Your Kitchen Cabinets

Summary: Advice on installing under unit lighting in your kitchen with step by step help on how to fit downlights to make your kitchen's work surfaces well lit. See how to fit lights such as LED lights under kitchen cabinets.

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Fitting lights in and/or under kitchen wall units can have a dramatic effect in the kitchen and there are two ways to do this.

Firstly, if you are lucky enough to be designing your kitchen from scratch the wiring can be put into the wall/ceiling first. This will allow you to run the cables to the exact position you need in order to fit the lights. You will need help from our projects on how to cut and fill chases in walls for cables and also our fitting wall lights project.

For a full understanding of what you are embarking on when fitting lights to kitchen units, it is also a good idea to read our project on light circuits.

Lighting under kitchen units

Lighting under kitchen units is preferred by a great many cooks as it is not directly above the head and therefore does not cast shadows over the work you are doing.

Lighting which is "built in" to kitchen units, either under them or inside them, can largely be separated into two types. They are either spotlights or striplights. The spots can be seen in the left hand image and the strips in the right.

Fitting strip lighting under kitchen wall units

Fitting strip lighting under kitchen wall units

The striplights are usually much easier to install as they are fixed to the surface (albeit the underside) of the units, whereas the spots need to be drilled into the carcass of the unit.

The lighting in, on or under kitchen wall units will usually be low voltage lighting and you can get help with this in the Low Voltage Lighting project. Our diy project on fitting fluorescent Lighting may help also.

There is usually a recess at the back of the wall units where the connection can be made between the wiring from the wall to the wires from the light fitting. It is usual to switch the lights individually under each unit, but using the wall light project you will be able to wire these lights together with your main kitchen lighting to allow you to turn them all on at once.

Pyramid Under unit lighting

Pyramid Under unit lighting

It is possible to have both scenarios whereby a wall switch turns all lights on and individual unit switches turn each light off/on. To do this you will need to see our project on two way lighting.

You can also introduce lighting under your kitchen units after the units are fitted. This is a little fiddly because, to hide the wires, you have to drill through the units which you have already filled with crockery!

Kit for fitting under kitchen wall unit lighting

Kit for fitting under kitchen wall unit lighting

The easiest way to fix under unit lighting after wall units are fitted is to buy battery operated lights which either screw up to, or stick on to, the underside of the units. These lights can be bought from most DIY stores.

Lighting kits are available for "retrospective" fitting to units. You can also get some ideas about subtle kitchen lighting from our project on plinth lighting.

Updating and improving your existing kitchen lighting is another way to get great effects in your kitchen as is also considering switching to LED lighting. There are huge benefits to doing so and if you would like to find out about these visit our LED lighting project.

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

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