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Under cabinet lights are great additions to any kitchen. The provide focused lighting, mood, and style for very little effort and not a lot of money.
Many factors will go into choosing the type of lights you should put in your kitchen, or for any room you have cabinets for that matter. Here are four types of lighting you might want to consider.
Light emitting diode (LED)
One of the most important innovations and popular kind of lighting is LED. You can see it everywhere, from disposable flashlights to television sets. LED lights are particularly popular because they are very energy efficient. They are particularly safe as well because they emit very little heat.
LED is the abbreviation for light emitting diode. A diode is an electronic component (semiconductor) that acts like a check valve. It allows current to pass in one direction while preventing it from going back. LED lights typically use aluminum-gallium-arsenide diodes that give off visible light, but not heat, when a current passes through it.
LED is requires much less energy to produce light than incandescent bulbs. For example, a 5-watt LED bulb gives off the equivalent light of a 40-watt incandescent bulb. They are also dimmable, which is a big advantage. Aside from energy savings, LED light bulbs also last up to 15 years, so you will not have to replace your LED bulbs anytime soon.
When it comes to under cabinet lights using LED, you can choose to go with puck lights or strip lights. It will depend on your sense of style. The main difference between the two in terms of function is the light distribution. Puck lights tend to focus light on the spots directly below, while strip lights provide illumination evenly.
In terms of installation, puck lights require a bit more work because you will need to put in wiring as well as a method of attaching them under the cabinet. The simplest is to screw them on, but you might also want to consider a track mount or recess lighting. With strip lights, all you need is some strong tape or adhesive to install. In most cases, you can connect strip lights directly to existing wires or plug into a convenient wall outlet.
To recap, LED lights:
• Save energy
• Produce minimal heat
• Last a long time
• Install easily
• Allow dimming
• Cost a bit more than incandescent bulbs
Fluorescent lights have been around for decades, and was the most popular artificial electric lights in the world until very recently. Innovations in the technology have resolved many of the problems with fluorescent bulbs, from the irritating flicker and hums to temperamental ballasts. It is still a popular option today in many homes, and a good option for under cabinet lights.
Modern fluorescent lights are much slimmer now, and the best ones for under cabinet lighting are T4 fluorescent bulbs, which are about ½ inches in diameter. You can always go bigger with the T5 or T8, but the T4 is slim enough to virtually disappear under the cabinet.
The T4 is a linear tube, which usually works well under cabinets. However, you can also choose a compact fluorescent lamp or CFL, which is round like a puck. Like with LED lights, the difference will be in light distribution, which T4s giving more even lighting.
When choosing your fluorescent lights, you have to decide on just how much light you want under the cabinets and choose accordingly. The amount of light you want has a direct relationship with the wattage, and thus your energy consumption.
Additionally, fluorescent lights are not dimmable, with the exception of some CFLs. Even then, they are only partially dimmable. If you pick the wrong intensity, you will have either to stick with it or replace it. If you replace your fluorescent lights, you cannot just chuck it into the trash. You need to dispose of it properly because it contains mercury.
To recap, fluorescent lights:
• Save energy
• Last a long time
• Not dimmable
• Contain mercury
• Cost a bit more than incandescent bulbs
High Intensity Discharge (HID or Xenon)
High intensity discharge or HID lights, also known as xenon, are actually incandescent lights because they produce light by heating up a filament. Xenon lights use tungsten filaments encased in a glass bulb filled with the inert gas xenon to protect the filament from oxidation, hence the name.
Compared to standard incandescent bulbs, xenon lights save much more energy and last much longer. Compared to LED and fluorescent lights, though, they consume more energy and give off more heat.
Some people prefer xenon lights because they give off a warm, bright light. This is ideal for under cabinet use as they are available in both puck and linear bulb form as well as hardwired and plug-in installation.
To recap, xenon lights:
• Give off a warm, bright light
• Use less energy than standard incandescent lights
• Are dimmable
• Produce more heat than LED or fluorescent lights
Another incandescent light product is halogen, which is very similar to xenon with the exception that it has halogen instead of xenon filling the bulb. Halogen lights are much brighter than xenon, and give off muck more heat. Additionally, halogen lights tend to give up the ghost faster than xenon, and are less energy efficient.
That said, halogen is still better than standard incandescent lights. It is a good option for under cabinet lights if you are not considering LED or fluorescent lights, and you want something brighter than xenon.
Halogen is in the genre as xenon lighting with the main difference being that it contains the inert gas, halogen, in the bulb enclosure. As already mentioned, both are incandescent, produce more heat than LED and fluorescent lighting and are not as energy efficient. Like xenon, halogen lighting is quite bright with vivid color, making it a favorite for homeowners looking for bright and warm lighting.
To recap, halogen lights:
• Give off much brighter light than xenon
• Save more energy and give off less heat than standard incandescent bulbs
• Give off enough heat to affect heat-sensitive food
• Do not last as long as LED, fluorescent, or xenon lights
You have more options now for under cabinet lighting, and they are all relatively affordable. These four lighting options are the most popular today. What you choose will boil down to your personal preferences and needs.
Of course, choosing the right under cabinet lighting plays second fiddle to choosing the right kind of kitchen cabinets. If you are in the market for new kitchen cabinets, you should find a reliable cabinet supplier in your area. Cabinets City is just the reliable and reputable supplier you need if you are in Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, Elk Grove Village, and surrounding areas.
We carry some of the best brands in the country, from RTA to custom cabinets, and at the best prices compared to Cabinets To Go and Advance Cabinets. These include Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, each of which come with manufacturer warranties. We always deliver on time, so you will not have to worry about keeping your schedule to stay in budget.
We can advise you on the best cabinets for your kitchen. Give us a call for a free consultation and quote, or visit our showroom in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. We can give you what you need faster and better than big box stores.