Are you tired of feeling like you're cooking in a dungeon? Do your under cabinet lights appear outdated or inefficient, flickering or emitting dim light? Well, no worries my fellow DIYers! The solution to your dimly lit kitchen is here. In this article, we will learn how to convert old under cabinet lights to LED and brighten up your life, literally.
And don't worry, you don't have to be an electrician or have a degree in lighting design to make the switch. It's as easy as swapping out your burnt-out lightbulbs, which won't leave you in the dark. So let's shed some light on how to make the upgrade and why it's worth it.
It's time to say goodbye to squinting to check whether your chopped onions are of the right size or not. Not only will switching to LED lights save you money on energy bills, but it will also reduce the need for frequent bulb replacements. And who doesn't love saving money and hassle? Converting your old lights to LED is easier than you think. So, let's get started.
Understanding Under Cabinet Lights
Types Of Under Cabinet Lights
There are several types of under cabinet lights, such as fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent, each with its own set of features and benefits. Here are the most common types of under cabinet lights:
LED lights are energy-efficient and long lasting, making them a popular choice for under cabinet lighting. They are available in a range of colors and brightness levels, making them suitable for different types of activities in the kitchen or workspace.
Halogen lights are incandescent bulb that produces a bright, white light. They are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and have a longer lifespan. They produce heat and can be a fire hazard if not installed correctly.
Fluorescent lights are known for their energy efficiency and long lifespan. They come in various sizes and shapes, and some models can be dimmed. They can be bulky and may not fit in all types of cabinets.
Xenon lights are incandescent bulb that produces warm, natural light. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, they consume less energy and last longer. They can be expensive and produce heat, making them unsuitable for certain cabinets.
Rope lights are a string of LED bulbs encased in a flexible plastic tube. They are easy to install and can be cut to fit any size cabinet. They produce a diffuse, ambient light suitable for decorative purposes or to create a warm, cozy atmosphere.
Incandescent LEDs are the most common type of LED light bulb. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They produce a warm, yellow light and are perfect for use in places that desire soft light.
Choosing the right type of under cabinet light depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors: energy efficiency, brightness, color temperature, and ease of installation when selecting your lights.
How Do Under Cabinet Lights Work?
Under cabinet lights work using a ballast or transformer to convert AC voltage into DC voltage, which powers the bulbs. The ballast or transformer regulates the voltage and ensures that the bulbs receive a constant level of electricity. This helps to prevent flickering or dimming of the lights.
The bulbs used under cabinet lights can vary in type and wattage, depending on the lighting needs. For example, halogen bulbs produce a bright, white light that is suitable for tasks such as cooking or reading, while fluorescent bulbs produce a softer, more diffuse light that is ideal for creating ambient lighting.
Under cabinet lights are typically installed beneath the cabinets or shelves, providing task lighting for activities such as food preparation or reading. They can be hardwired into the electrical system or connected to an electrical outlet. Some models also feature dimming switches or motion sensors for greater flexibility and convenience.
The traditional lights have drawbacks too. They produce heat, consume more energy, and need frequent replacement. Upgrading to LED lights provides a better option.
Importance Of Under Cabinet Lighting
Upgrading to LED lights offers a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution that enhances lighting quality and saves money on utility bills. Under cabinet lighting is an essential element in any kitchen or workspace. It provides task lighting for food preparation, cooking, and other activities. Traditional under cabinet lights can be inefficient, dim, and difficult to maintain.
LED Light Options
There are several types of LED lights, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. Here are some common types of LED lights:
- LED Bulbs: These are the most common type of LED lights and are designed to replace traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. LED bulbs come in a range of shapes and sizes, including standard A19 bulbs, globe bulbs, and candelabra bulbs.
- LED Tubes: LED tubes are designed to replace traditional fluorescent tubes and are commonly used in commercial and industrial settings.
- LED Strips: LED strips are flexible strips of LED lights that can be cut to size and used for various applications, such as accent lighting, backlighting, and under-cabinet lighting.
- LED Panels: LED panels are flat panels of LED lights that are commonly used for commercial and industrial lighting applications.
- LED Downlights: LED downlights are recessed lights that are commonly used in residential and commercial settings for general lighting and accent lighting.
- LED Floodlights: LED floodlights are designed to provide bright, focused lighting for outdoor areas, such as driveways, parking lots, and sports fields.
- LED Grow Lights: LED grow lights are designed to provide the specific spectrum of light needed for plants to grow and are commonly used in indoor gardening applications.
These are just a few examples of the many types of LED lights available. The type of LED light you choose will depend on the specific application and lighting needs.
Selecting The Right Under-Cabinet LED
When installing LED cabinet lights in your home, selecting the correct type of light for the job is crucial. LED cabinet lights come in various shapes and sizes, so it is essential to measure the area you want to light up and find a light that will fit. You also need to decide if you want a light that runs off of battery power or one that plugs into an outlet.
- If you want a light that runs off of battery power, then you need to find a light with a built-in battery. Some cabinet lights come with rechargeable batteries, while others require disposable batteries.
- If you want a light plugs into an outlet, you need to find a light with a plug-in cord. Most LED cabinet lights have cables six feet long or longer, so you should have plenty of room to plug the light into an outlet.
Many different LED bulbs are available on the market, so it can be challenging to decide which one is right for you.
Factors To Consider: Choose The Right LED Bulb
When looking for an LED light bulb, there are a few factors you should consider:
- Brightness: You can measure it in lumens. The amount of lumens determines how bright the light will be. Choose an LED bulb that is dimmable, if desired. It will allow you to adjust the brightness of the light depending on your needs.
- Temperature: You can measure it in Kelvin. The higher the Kelvin, the lower the light, 4000K or higher. There are three main color temperatures: cool, warm, and daylight. Cool LED bulbs have a bluish hue, while warm bulbs have a yellowish tint. Daylight bulbs have a more neutral color and are ideal for reading or tasks that require a lot of light.
- Size: Wattage is the measurement of electrical power. The wattage of an LED bulb indicates how much electricity it consumes. If the LED bulb is too powerful, it could overload the circuit and cause a fire. Some LED bulbs are more significant than others. You should consider the size of the LED bulb before purchasing it to make sure it will fit into the light fixture you want to use it in.
- Color: Some people prefer bulbs that emit a warm light, while others prefer bulbs that emit excellent light.
- If you prefer a warmer light, look for LED bulbs with a color temperature of 2700 Kelvin or lower. If you prefer more fantastic light, look for LED bulbs with 4000 Kelvin or higher color temperature.
- Shape: Some LED bulbs come in various forms, including A-shaped, globe-shaped, and stick-shaped. It would be best if you chose the shape of the LED bulb that will best fit the light fixture you want to use it in.
- Price: LED bulbs are available at a variety of price points. It would help if you considered the cost of the LED bulb before purchasing it to make sure it fits into your budget. Although they are more pricey than other bulbs, they last far longer and consume less electricity.
Ensure that the new LED light bulb is compatible with your existing fixture. Once you've considered these factors, you can start shopping for an LED light bulb!
How to Convert Old Under Cabinet Lights to LED
Converting under cabinet lights to LED is a simple process that can be done in a few steps.
- Gather Necessary Tools And Materials: Before beginning, turn off the power supply and gather the necessary tools and materials. You will need wire strippers, wire connectors, screws, and LED light strips.
- Pay Attention: Turn off the power supply.
Remove Old Lights
- Detach Bulbs: Start by detaching the old bulbs from their sockets and removing the covers.
- Open the Panel: Remove the 2 wing connectors (Color: tan) and 2 screws using power drills for dropping down the panel having wirings.
- Disconnect Wires: Disconnect the wires from the ballast or transformer. If the old lights were hardwired, it would be best to unscrew the mounting screws and detach the fixture from the cabinet.
Install LED Lights
- Choose The Right Led Lights: Choose LED lights that are the same size or smaller than the old lights.
- Pull out the parts from the fixture by taking apart the diffuser and two screws.
- Lift the fixture under the cabinet and determine where to pull the wires through and where you would like to install the fixture.
- Mark keyholes with the help of a pencil, considering the smallest area to place the screw.
- To determine which hole to punch out for the wires, use a flathead screwdriver.
- Install strain relief for wire protection.
- Remember to insert the item through the hole and keep in mind that the nut should be positioned on the back side of either the fixture or the wall. Use long nose pliers to tighten it.
- Use long nose pliers to straighten and pull the wires while holding the base fixture up to the underside of the cabinet.
- When pulling, be sure to grasp the wire itself. In case you harm the insulation, use electrical tape to repair it.
- Using your power drill along with the Philips head attachment, insert screws into the designated areas on the cabinet's underside to secure the base fixture. Be sure to leave about 2 to 3 turns so that the screws are not completely flush with the cabinet.
- To make it easier for the wood screws to grip, drill a small pilot hole using a 1/16" drill bit. I had varying degrees of difficulty with mine.
- To attach the base fixture, pull it forward and lock it into the smallest part of the keyhole. After that, tighten the screws to the cabinet's base.
- Next, utilize the pair of screws that accompany the fixture to fasten the strain relief connector and ensure the wires are securely held in place.
- Push the white wire into the quick-connect nut that matches the other white wire on the fixture. Do the same with the black wire and connect it to the corresponding black wire. Finally, connect the ground or copper wire to the green nut. Make sure to push the wires firmly.
- It is acceptable to find 2 white, 2 black, and 2 copper ground wires when you remove one of your fixtures. This is used to establish connections between the light fixtures, as I found with two of my own fixtures.
- The red-quick connectors have two ports for wires; therefore, you just need to follow the same process of matching each wire type.
- During the second set of wires with two wires each, I had to utilize my wire cutter/stripper tool as the wires were excessively long. It is suggested to cut and strip the wires to better accommodate the available space.
- To check if the light turns on, flip the circuit breaker. If it doesn't turn on, turn the breaker off again and ensure that all connections are properly secured.
- Attach the LED light panel to the cabinet base using the screws and washers provided, using either a power drill or a Philips head screwdriver. Place the diffuser on top of the light panel.
- LED light strips come with self-adhesive backing, making them easy to attach to the cabinet bottom.
- Connect Wires, Insert Led Bulbs: Connect the wires to the power source using wire connectors. Insert the LED bulbs into the sockets and replace the covers.
Now that you know how to convert old under cabinet lights to LED, take no time to upgrade.
Troubleshooting Common Issues:
If you encounter any problems after installing LED under cabinet lights, here are some common issues and their solutions:
- Lights Not Turning On: Check the wiring to ensure it's connected correctly. Make sure the power supply is turned on.
- Flickering Lights: Flickering lights can be caused by a poor connection or low-quality LED lights. Check the wiring and upgrade to a higher-quality LED light strip if needed.
- Dim Lighting: If the lighting is too dim, you may need to add more LED light strips or choose a brighter bulb.
Benefits of Upgrading to LED Under Cabinet Lights:
There are several reasons why under cabinet lights should be upgraded to LED. Here are some of the most significant benefits of making the switch:
LED lights use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, making them more energy-efficient and cost-effective. LED lights consume up to 80% less electricity, which can lead to significant savings on your utility bill.
LED lights have a much longer lifespan than traditional incandescent bulbs. While LED lights may be more expensive upfront, they serve much longer than traditional lights. They can last up to 50,000 hours, which means they need to be replaced much less frequently. This also reduces maintenance costs and the hassle of constantly changing bulbs.
LED lights are much more durable than traditional incandescent bulbs. They resist breakage and damage from impacts or vibrations, making them ideal for high-traffic areas. They are less likely to break, and they don't produce heat, reducing the risk of fires or other hazards.
Improved Lighting Quality
LED lights produce a bright, focused light, ideal for task lighting. This improves visibility and enhances the aesthetics of the space. They are available in various color temperatures, allowing you to choose the perfect light shade for your workspace or kitchen. LED lights also produce less heat than traditional bulbs, reducing the risk of fires or other hazards.
LED lights are an environmentally friendly lighting solution. They contain no hazardous materials, and they can be recycled easily, reducing their impact on the environment.
Overall, upgrading to LED under cabinet lights is a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly choice that provides better lighting quality and reduces maintenance costs.
Drawbacks Of LED Lights
While LED lights have many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider when choosing LED lights. Here are some reasons why someone might choose not to use LED lights:
- Upfront cost: While LED lights can result in cost savings over time, they can be more expensive to purchase upfront compared to traditional lighting technologies.
- Color temperature: LED lights can emit a cooler, bluish light, which some people may find less appealing than the warmer light emitted by traditional incandescent lights.
- Glare: LED lights can produce a high level of glare, which can be uncomfortable for some people and can cause visual discomfort.
- Compatibility: LED lights may not be compatible with all lighting fixtures, particularly older fixtures designed for traditional lighting technologies.
- Quality concerns: There can be quality concerns with some LED lights, particularly cheaper, low-quality bulbs that may have inconsistent light output, color temperature, and overall durability.
Ultimately, whether or not to choose LED lights depends on the specific needs and preferences of the individual. While there are some potential drawbacks, the benefits of LED lights, such as energy efficiency, durability, and environmental benefits, often outweigh the potential downsides.
In conclusion, switching to LED lights is a simple process that can be done with a few tools and materials. Converting old under cabinet lights to LED is a simple, cost-effective way to improve your kitchen's lighting and life.
Not only will it save you money on energy bills, but it will also reduce the need for frequent bulb replacements, as LED lights are energy-efficient, cost-effective, durable, and produce enhanced lighting quality. So, go ahead, as now you know how to convert old under cabinet lights to LED. Make the switch, and bask in the glow of your new LED lights.