Undercabinet lighting has come a long way since the days of flickering T12 (fat) fluorescent tubes. While these are still fine for laundry rooms and ‘man-cave’ workbenches, they don’t do much to flatter the high-end countertops and custom cabinetry that today’s homeowner demands.
For over twenty years, customers have had the option of using color-true halogen undercabinet lighting. Halogens will make granite dance, but will also produce so much heat as to ruin spices and even warp cabinets if used for many years. Xenon has all but replaced halogen as the go-to undercabinet lighting choice, but even xenon still produces a fair amount of heat (25% less heat than halogen).
LED (Light-Emitting Diode) technology seems to be a perfect fit for undercabinet applications. Long-life, energy-efficiency, and very low heat output seem to crown it the new king of undercabinet lighting. The very thought of kitchen lights that last for 18 years of average use may make you want to rip your current system out of the wall.
Is it really that simple? As of July, 2010, I can confidently tell you, yes. Even folks’ main objections to LED- high initial cost and light quality- are much less of an issue today.
For instance, a high-quality low-voltage 22 inch xenon undercabinet fixture will run about $110, whereas a middle-range non-dimmable LED fixture with acceptable light quality will only be 40-50 dollars more. You can certainly find higher-end LED fixtures with even higher color rendering and light output for a much higher cost, but I believe there are currently enough reliable LED choices in a reasonable price range to recommend over xenon lighting.
When considering an LED system for your undercabinet lighting, make sure it is from a reputable brand, offers at least a three-year warranty, and is purchased from a retailer that will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Most importantly, purchase a (returnable, of course) plug-in version of one or two brands of LED you are likely to choose so you can take them home and decide for yourself if the brightness and light quality meet your expectations. Unlike xenon, LED brightness and color vary greatly from one company to the next, even in higher-end products. Only after this test should you buy a whole kitchen’s-worth of LED undercabinet lighting.
There are myriad options for LED undercabinet lighting, and the staff of Creative Lighting would like to help you make the selection as smooth as possible. A bright, cool, energy-efficient kitchen is just around the corner!