Talk about a bright idea! Light fixtures installed directly underneath your cabinets illuminate the countertops below for safer, more functional food prep and brighter small-appliance storage. Under-cabinet lighting is also considered a decorative element since the lower height of the light can show off a backsplash pattern better just as puck lights can highlight work spaces in the kitchen. Additional areas of light can make a kitchen appear larger or, when controlled by dimmers, they can contribute to overall ambiance.
The best under-cabinet lighting brings greater efficiency to your cooking, a bit of class to your kitchen, and even connectivity with smart-home devices for optimal control and energy savings. We conducted hands-on reviews of every product here, closely following testing guidelines and putting the lighting kits through rigorous use to help narrow down the contenders to the best on the market right now. The products reviewed here are all top-notch in their respective categories.
- BEST OVERALL: Litever Under Cabinet LED Lighting Kit
- RUNNER UP: Lightkiwi E7574 Dimmable Under Cabinet Lighting Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Lighting EVER LE LED Under Cabinet Puck Lights Kit
- HARDWIRED PICK: HARRRRD Hardwired LED Under Cabinet Task Lighting
- WIRELESS PICK: BLS T01L LED Closet Light
- LED PICK: Wobane Under Cabinet Flexible LED Strip Lights
- HIGH-TECH PICK: TORCHSTAR LED Safe Lighting Kit
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Brilliant Evolution Wireless Ultra Thin LED Light Bar
Popular Types of Under-Cabinet Lighting
The type of under-cabinet lighting you choose—LED, fluorescent, halogen, or xenon—will determine its aesthetic and maximum efficiency rating.
Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting is the most popular and most energy-efficient type of under-cabinet lighting. Originally, LED lighting was expensive and only offered directional lighting, but now even smart home–compatible LED lighting systems have become more affordable. However, they are still the priciest choice of the four types. Current LEDs also offer whole-room diffused lighting that can be used in overhead fixtures, replacing the common incandescent bulbs.
While initially costlier, LED bulbs outlast their counterparts by double or triple the time. They produce less heat (a big asset in the kitchen) and, on a purely aesthetic level, can create millions of colors on the spectrum. All these benefits make LED lights with the appropriate lumen rating (the unit of brightness measurement) the preferred choice of many consumers for under-cabinet lighting.
Compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) is energy efficient and doesn’t produce a lot of heat, but it does have some unappealing issues. These tube bulbs tend to produce harsh light and emit an annoying buzzing sound. They cannot be used with a dimmer function, and turning them on and off repeatedly can shorten their lifespan. What’s more, because they use both mercury vapor and a phosphor coating to convert UV light to visible light, you can’t toss them in the trash when spent—these bulbs must be disposed of according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
Halogen lights use a gas compound containing halogen vapor within the bulb. When electricity is run through the filament, the compound reacts to produce clear, white light. However, halogen lights get very hot and should not be used where they might accidentally be touched. Efficiency-wise, halogen bulbs are a step above fluorescent bulbs (and several steps above incandescent bulbs), using between 25 to 80 percent less energy. They fall below xenon bulbs and well below LED lighting in most categories, but are a good midrange choice that will provide decent lighting at a moderate cost.
Xenon lighting casts clear, white light but, unlike halogen bulbs, it doesn’t use a filament. Instead, an electrical current is channeled through the xenon gas contained in the bulb, causing the excitation of electrons to produce light. Xenon lighting is cooler to the touch than halogen bulbs and also more efficient, lasting two to three times longer. LED lights outshine xenon and halogen lights in every category except price, but xenon bulbs are the next-best option for brightness and lifespan.
What to Consider When Buying Under-Cabinet Lighting
To buy the best under-cabinet lighting for your kitchen, keep these important considerations in mind.
The voltage of under-cabinet lighting is separated into three main types: line-voltage (120V) lighting, low-voltage (12V or 24V) lighting, and battery lighting.
- Line-voltage lighting is wired directly into your home’s electrical system. Bulbs using this type of voltage system produce more heat than low-voltage or battery lighting.
- Low-voltage lighting can be wired directly into your home if there is a transformer installed to reduce the voltage from the house down to the required 12 volt or 24 volt. It’s much more common for these systems to simply plug into a power outlet. There is no significant difference between the average energy savings, light quality, or lifespan of line-voltage and low-voltage lighting.
- Battery-powered lighting doesn’t rely on the home’s electrical system for power, so no transformer is necessary. Battery voltages for under-cabinet lighting range from 1.5 volt to 10 volt. The higher the voltage, the more power the battery will be able to push, and the brighter the light will be.
Strip Lights vs. Puck Lights vs. Bar Lights
Under-cabinet lighting comes in three primary styles: strip lights, puck lights, and bar lights.
- Strip lights come in rolls that can be stuck onto a surface via backing adhesive. They can also be screwed on if need be, but the backing adhesive normally holds strongly enough to fasten under cabinets. Strip lights are flexible and customizable, making them an excellent option for unique layouts. However, their flexibility makes them more fragile, so they’re not the best choice for illuminating task-oriented countertops used for food prep.
- Puck lights, shaped like hockey pucks, are designed to create spots or pools of light instead of an even beam of illumination across an area. This makes them an excellent choice for accent lighting, but if using them for task lighting, they must be spaced so that there’s no break in the lighting between pucks. Puck lights are most commonly battery-powered models that stick onto a surface with adhesive backing, though they can be low voltage and in rare circumstances, they can be line voltage.
- Bar lights—the most common style of under-cabinet lighting—have an aluminum housing and a light diffusion cover, making them sturdy enough for the task-oriented areas of your kitchen. These lights can be low voltage or line voltage and generally measure from 6 to 48 inches in length. The only real drawback with bar lights is their inflexibility, so you must measure carefully to plan their installation before buying.
Energy Efficiency and Heat Output
The energy efficiency and heat output of under-cabinet lighting depends primarily on the type of bulb used.
- Fluorescent lighting is one of the best options in terms of energy efficiency and heat output. The bulbs remain cool during operation, and they rate between xenon bulbs and LED bulbs in overall efficiency.
- Halogen lighting produces the most heat and is the least efficient bulb. The light these bulbs emit is clear and easy to work by, and they’re also dimmable, allowing you to save some energy as you set the mood.
- Xenon lighting gets a bit hotter than fluorescent and LED lighting, but the temperature is still acceptable to the touch. These bulbs are less efficient than LED and fluorescent lights, but they can be dimmed for mood setting and energy saving.
- LED lighting is the best option for both energy efficiency and heat output. Some LED lights use as little as 5 watts of energy while still producing adequate brightness, and they can be dimmed for more energy savings. LED lights have a very low heat output, leaving them cool to the touch, even after hours of operation.
Fixed brightness feels out of place in our customizable world, making dimmers an important addition to an under-cabinet lighting system. By dimming the lights to a level suitable to the current use of the room, you reduce the energy consumption and save on your electric bill. Dimmers also let you adjust the brightness to suit the situation—as low as a night-light, for instance, as you sneak into the kitchen for that midnight snack!
Ease of Installation
Installing an under-cabinet lighting system can be incredibly easy—or complex enough to warrant hiring a professional electrician.
- Line-voltage lighting is the most difficult type to install because the wiring must be connected directly to your electrical system. If replacing an old fixture with the same voltage, the installation can be completed by an experienced DIYer who is comfortable working with electricity, but if it’s a new installation, it’s recommended that you hire a professional electrician to be certain that your electrical system is capable of supporting an additional fixture. Line-voltage systems will also look better if the wires are all hidden inside the wall or on the underside of the cabinet—part of the job for a pro.
- Low-voltage lighting is most often installed using backing adhesive or a few mounting screws. The power cord is then plugged into a nearby power outlet, making this style of system simple to install.
- Battery-powered lighting is the easiest to install, using backing adhesive, mounting screws, or even magnetic strips to connect to a surface. These systems are designed to be mounted and removed repeatedly so that their batteries can be changed or recharged.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best under-cabinet lighting for your kitchen. We performed extensive hands-on testing on each to help ensure the products lived up to their promises.
This lighting system produces 2000 lumens of brightness—more than enough for kitchen tasks—and the light is diffused through a cover so that the brightness is uniform across your countertop. The light is a warm white, flattering to anything it illuminates. The under-cabinet bar lights can be installed with backing adhesive or affixed with screws. An LED system that is fully dimmable from 0 to 100 percent, it also has an on/off switch for optimal control.
Our testing found that the dimmer switch offers flexibility in static lighting versus dimmable lighting depending upon the placement of the switch; placing the switch next to the on/off switch allows for dimmable control of all connected light bars, while placing it in between light bars along the run results in static light from those near the switch and dimmable for those connected after the dimmer. This can be quite helpful in creating targeted lighting for tasks as well as dimmable lighting for atmosphere.
Though it’s a low-voltage system at just 12 volts, it offers the flexibility of two different power cables: One runs from the wall outlet, through an AC adapter and to the lights, and the other can be wired directly into your electrical system and then flow through an AC adapter to produce under-cabinet lighting. Having both options means you can choose between a simple, straightforward installation or wiring directly into your electrical system to hide the cords and operate the light using a household light switch.
- Lumens: 2000
- Power: AC adapter or hardwired
- Volts: 12
- Up to six light bars for extensive coverage
- Bars light enough for adhesive mounting
- Wide variety of layout options
- Dimmer switch placement provides unique lighting options
- Instruction manual is very simplistic
- Dimmer can be awkward to turn
Get the Litever under-cabinet lighting on Amazon and at Walmart.
This under-cabinet LED lighting system of four light bars produces 800 lumens of brightness per bar. The thin, sturdy light bars can be connected directly or linked through a cord for customizable coverage. They can be installed via peel-and-stick backing adhesive or by using screws. Keep in mind the on/off and dimmer are on the same unit and must be installed nearest the AC adapter, which potentially limits the options for customization.
The Lightkiwi Dimmable Under Cabinet Lighting Kit is a 24-volt low-voltage system that plugs into a power outlet. A dimmer switch allows you to control the brightness output, and a low-energy red light remains lit so that you can find the on/off switch in the dark. The dimmer has a memory function that sets it to the previous brightness level until you decide to change it. Our testing found that the dimmer doesn’t dim all the way; the bars remain lit at a level that might be too much for users who want a very mellow light.
- Lumens: 800 per bar
- Power: AC adapter
- Volts: 24
- Dimmer switch memory
- Red light for switch detection
- Easy to use dimmer switch
- Doesn’t dim completely
- No option to dim individual lights
Get the Lightkiwi under-cabinet lighting on Amazon.
An affordable option for decorative under-cabinet lighting, the Lighting EVER LE LED Under Cabinet Puck Light Kit includes six puck lights, each with an 8-foot cord that connects to a terminal box. This means the lights don’t have to be installed in a series, allowing for optimal customization. In addition, the terminal box works just fine when using only a few of the lights provided in the kit; not all of them are required to complete a circuit. The 12-volt low-voltage puck lights mount easily with backing adhesive or screws and plug into a wall outlet through the terminal box. We found the puck lights to be very lightweight and thus easy to attach with adhesive.
The LED under-cabinet lighting features a touch-dimming system that lets users set the brightness to five different levels: 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent. The 500-lumen output of each puck is too low for task lighting when installed separately, but if two or more are grouped together, they’ll produce enough lumens for food-prep tasks. The tap control can be a little finicky, so it can take some time to figure out the right pressure to turn the puck lights on and rotate through the brightness levels.
- Lumens: 500 each light
- Power: Terminal box (wall outlet)
- Volts: 12
- 8-foot cords allow customization
- Tap controls are easy for those with limited hand mobility
- Several lighting levels
- Lights must be paired for better task lighting
- Hiding cords can be difficult
Get the Lighting EVER under-cabinet lighting on Amazon.
Hardwiring under-cabinet lighting may be complicated, but the results—free of cords plugging into outlets—lend a clean, neat look that’s desirable in a kitchen. This 120V line-voltage under-cabinet LED bar light system is ideal for those choosing the hardwired route, as its slim design in five different lengths (12-inch, 18-inch, 21-inch, 24-inch, and 36-inch) blends right into existing decor. It provides what users need for kitchen under-cabinet lighting and nothing more; the simplistic, minimalist design could appeal to those who prefer sleek lines.
The light affords a uniform look, thanks to a glare-free frosted cover that diffuses the 1250 lumens of brightness. The bar light has an on/off switch and is compatible with dimmers, but a dimmer switch is not included. Since this is hardwired, the addition of a dimmer switch or even the installation of this unit itself might require professional help.
- Lumens: 1250
- Power: Hardwired
- Volts: 120
- No wires dangling under the cabinet
- Easy on/off switch
- Glare-free cover
- Might require professional installation
- Instructions are not very clear
- Dimmer switch not included
Get the HARRRRD under-cabinet lighting on Amazon.
If you want under-cabinet lighting that activates when you enter your dark kitchen, or that provides simple accent lighting to your dishware or appliances, this wireless option is the way to go. The moderate 1.5-volt system produces only 180 lumens of brightness and the light is harsher than the others we tested; good for task lighting, but not so good for atmosphere.
You won’t run into installation issues or have to look at messy cords with the BLS Super Bright Under Cabinet Lighting. It installs in seconds with backing adhesive or mounting screws and operates with three AA batteries. If you’re not a fan of batteries, you can use the 37-inch USB cord to power the LED bar light; there is also a hardwire option. Note that the USB wall adapter is not included with the light kit.
The under-cabinet lighting is attached at only two points, allowing the light to rotate down for additional lighting angles. This feature also makes it possible to change the batteries without detaching the light. This system includes automatic motion detection that can be adjusted for sensitivity, or it can be turned off altogether. It can also be set to be on, off, on only during the night, or on only during the day. The light turns off after 20 seconds of sensing no motion, giving ample time to leave the kitchen with this bar lighting your way.
- Lumens: 180
- Power: Battery, hardwired, or USB adapter
- Volts: 1.5
- Easily adjustable motion sensor
- Variety of options for sensor or steady light
- Multiple power options
- Harsh light
- Motion sensor can be finicky
Get the BLS under-cabinet lighting on Amazon.
LED lighting is the best option for under-cabinet lighting, and the affordable, versatile Wobane Under Cabinet Flexible LED Strip Lights system exemplifies why. The LED strip lighting produces an impressive 1100 lumens of brightness and can be installed in seconds using the strong adhesive backing. Its 12-volt low-voltage system plugs directly into your power outlet so there’s no need to hire an electrician to install it, nor will there be any need to change batteries in the future.
The flexible under-cabinet strip light is very thin, so it’s perfect for tucking up on the underside of cabinets where only the illumination is visible. Its flexibility also allows for installation around corners and curves with ease. Additionally, the strip can be separated into four equal length pieces for more customization options. The sole drawback is that these lights are not dimmable and only operate via an on/off switch. However, we were delighted to discover that the light is very warm, reminiscent of candlelight, and perfect for setting a relaxing atmosphere.
- Lumens: 110
- Power: Wall outlet
- Volts: 12
- Very light; will not come out of place
- Exceptionally warm lighting
- Very easy to install
- Not dimmable
- Operates only with wall outlet
Get the Wobane under-cabinet lighting on Amazon and at Walmart.
The Torchstar LED Safe Lighting Kit connects with Amazon Alexa for fully customizable brightness control. Use your voice or the app to adjust the brightness in 1 percent increments from 0 to 100; you can also set a timer to turn lights off on a schedule. This lighting system requires the use of a smartphone app; the instructions might be confusing to some. Once installed and connected, this lighting set offers very fine control from mood lighting to bright task lighting. There is also a simple on/off button that allows for controlling the lights without the app, but this cuts deeply into the options this light offers.
The under-cabinet LED bar lighting is easily installed with backing adhesive, and it can be mounted at a 45-degree angle instead of shining directly down. This 12-volt low-voltage lighting system produces 900 lumens of brightness and plugs directly into your power outlet. With this system, you even get motion detection that can be turned off or left on auto to illuminate the room anytime someone enters.
- Lumens: 900
- Power: Wall outlet
- Volts: 12
- Very fine control over dimmable light
- Pairs with voice assistants
- Easy-mount lights can be adjusted for different angles
- Requires the use of an app
- Instructions might be difficult to understand
Get the TORCHSTAR under-cabinet lighting on Amazon and at Walmart.
This straightforward offering from Brilliant Evolution provides the convenience of a wireless light with the bright task lighting necessary for easy meal prep. It’s a small but mighty light at 2 inches wide, 8.5 inches long, and less than 1 inch in depth, which opens up a world of placement options under kitchen cabinets. It requires strong adhesive strips, but once in place, it will stay put. Install it with screws for added security.
The 65 lumens come to life with a simple tap of the frosted screen; four LED lights brighten up the space with a warm/bright light. It’s a bit too harsh for ambient lighting but ideal for lighting up small spaces, such as a countertop nook. It runs on three AA batteries (not included) and can perform just as well on alkalines as on rechargeables. Either way, expect up to 100 hours of runtime. The beauty of this light lies in its simplicity and size; it provides ample lighting right where needed, and it does the job well.
- Lumens: 65
- Power: Batteries
- Volts: 4.5
- Can be mounted anywhere, no outlet required
- Offers up to 100 hours of light
- Uses rechargeable or alkaline batteries
- Needs strong adhesive
- Not good for ambient lighting
Get the Brilliant Evolution under-cabinet lighting on Amazon and at Walmart.
We were thrilled with the bright and versatile lighting of the Litever Under Cabinet Lighting Kit as well as the Lightkiwi Dimmable Under Cabinet Lighting Kit. Though every kit has its drawbacks, these had so few that the negative was easily overshadowed by the usefulness of the kit for both ambient and task lighting.
How We Chose the Best Under Cabinet Lighting
We performed hands-on testing of each product in this guide. We did so by closely following rubric and testing guidelines to help ensure each product met certain standards of quality and ease of use, as well as to keep our results fair and equitable. We looked at a variety of factors for testing, including the versatility of the light, the output each lighting set provided, whether the light was controllable (such as through a dimmer), and the ease of installation. We even looked at how easily the on/off switch or dimmer moved to produce the desired lighting result, as well as the warmness (or not) of the light, thus reflecting whether it was designed for task lighting, ambient lighting, or both.
The Advantages of Under-Cabinet Lighting
Installing under-cabinet lighting can lower energy bills by allowing you to use high-efficiency lights to illuminate one area at a time. This will provide more light for cooking and food prep while reducing the energy output of your lighting system. In addition to illuminating tasks such as food preparation on countertops, under-cabinet lighting can highlight a backsplash pattern that might otherwise be lost in shadow and/or enhance a mood—low brightness during dinner, for example, to create a relaxing atmosphere. Under-cabinet lighting can also enhance the home’s interior value by reducing shadows that make a room look small.
- Under-cabinet lighting is an easy-to-install, affordable way to update a kitchen.
- It can lower a home’s energy consumption and save money on the electric bill.
- It enhances the home’s interior value by focusing on unique style points and reducing shadows.
Check out the answers to the most common questions about under-cabinet lighting.
Q: How many under-cabinet lights do I need?
The number of under-cabinet lights you need will depend on the lumens per light produced, the type of light fixture, and the size of the room. In general, under-cabinet lighting should produce an average of 1000 to 2500 lumens for all surfaces that will be used for cooking or cutting. Other non-task-related areas for under-cabinet lighting don’t have lumen requirements, so you can choose as many or as few lights as you wish.
Q: Where should I place under-cabinet lighting?
When mounting any fixture under a cabinet, position it toward the front. If there is a lens, face it toward the backsplash. The bottom-front rail of the cabinet should hide the fixture from your line of sight, whether standing or seated. If it doesn’t, consider extending the rail with a narrow board or trim piece.
Q: How many lumens do I need for under-cabinet lighting?
The lumens for your under-cabinet lighting depend on where the lighting is being installed. Under-cabinet lighting for task-related areas like counters used for food preparation should have between 1000 to 2500 lumens to ensure you have plenty of light while cutting, peeling, chopping, or undertaking any other food prep activities. Under-cabinet lighting in the rest of the kitchen can range depending on your personal preferences.