Post details: Under-Cabinet Lighting


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Under-Cabinet Lighting



TIME REQUIREDExperienced: 1 day; Handy: 1 1/2 days; Novice: 2 days

Multitester or voltage tester
Lineman's pliers
Side-cutting pliers
Longnose pliers
Combination strippers
Drywall saw
Drill with spade bit
Utility knife
Flat pry bar

Under-Cabinet fluorescent lights
Armored or NM cable
Electrician's tape
Wire nuts
Cable clamps
Cable staples
Switch box

Cabinet LightingRun cable. Plan the wiring so as many holes as possible will be covered when you're done. If the countertop backsplash is removable, remove it and cut a channel in the drywall or plaster that will be completely covered by the backsplash. Drill holes in the studs to accommodate cable. (If you can't remove a backsplash, allow time for patching and painting the wall afterward. Or, install tile between the countertop and the wall cabinets.) Examine each light to determine exactly where the cable will enter and exit. Cut narrow holes in the wall where the cable will enter the lights. Cut carefully so the hole will be covered when the light is installed.

Cabinet Lighting Cut a hole for the switch box, and run cable into it from a power source-perhaps a nearby receptacle. Do not connect the cable to power. Run cable from the switch box to the hole for the first light, then from the first to the second light, and so on. Let about 16 inches of cable hang from the holes so you'll have plenty of slack to make connections. Most local codes allow fluorescent lights to be used as junction boxes, so you can string the wire from light to light. Check to be sure.


Cabinet Lighting Attach the Lights. Disassemble the lights, and remove the lens and fluorescent tubes. Clamp each cable to the light as you would clamp cable to a box. Have a helper hold the light as close to the rear wall as possible while you drive screws through the light and into the underside of the cabinet. Be sure that the screws won't poke through to the inside of the cabinet.



Cabinet LightingWire the Lights. Plan so that wires will not come within an inch of the ballast. Splice wires with the leads inside the light, black to black and white to white. Position the wires flat in the base so they will not get in the way when you add the fixture body. Gently push the bottom portion of the light into position. If it does not go in easily, take it down and realign the wires for an easier fit. Attach the fixture base.



Cabinet Lighting Wire the Switch. Install a switch box with the cables clamped to it. Splice the white wires together. Attach each of the black wires to a single-pole switch (don't use a dimmer with fluorescents). Connect the ground wire to the switch and to the box if it is metal. Wrap the body of the switch with tape so the terminals are covered. Shut off power to the receptacle or junction box that will supply the power. Splice white to white and black to a black or color wire. Restore power.


Cabinet LightingTime Saver...
Cable Inside the Cabinet. Cut holes in the cabinets. Lay BX or MC cable on the inside. Plan exactly where the cable will enter each light below the cabinet. Because you can't slip excess cable into the wall cabinet, you'll have to cut the cable precisely.
Cable Under the Cabinet. Attach the lights under the cabinets, string cable under the cabinet, and staple the cable in place using cable staples. Measure and cut carefully so the cable is flat along the length. Check your local code before doing this; it is not allowed in some areas.




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