4 Ways to Add Lighting Under Your Cabinets for $35 or Less

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Kitchen cabinets are just big boxes on your walls, which makes them great for storing dishes — and for casting harsh shadows on your counters. Think about how much better and easier cooking would be if you had some lights to help you see what you were doing. It’d sure be nice, right?

It’s also totally possible — even if you rent your current home or don’t want to hardwire anything new. Here are some great inexpensive, easy-to-install options.

(Image credit: Morgan Schemel)

1. Puck Lights

Puck lights (named for their hockey puck shape and size) use either xenon, halogen, or LED light bulbs. They are easy to install, and give single focused spots of light wherever they are placed. Depending on which type you buy, they either plug in to a wall outlet or require batteries, and either screw into the bottom of your cabinets, or can be stuck directly to any surface using provided adhesive dots.

Know that battery-powered options are good for only occasional use, as battery life isn’t terribly long (consider buying rechargeable batteries if you go this route). Some of these lights require you to “tap” them to turn on, but they also have remote control models that you can dim on demand.

(Image credit: Reagen Taylor)

2. Fluorescent Light Bars

Unlike the big tubular ceiling lights you think of first when you hear the word fluorescent, these are fairly compact, can easily hide up under the cabinets without being seen, and are light enough to stay put using just velcro if you don’t want to commit to screws. Most are plug-in models, but there are some that can be hardwired.

Unlike the circular puck lights, the light on these is spread out across the bar, and covers more area. But because they are fluorescent, the light has that cool (and by cool, I mean not warm) office-like quality that’s not always the most inviting. They also aren’t dimmable. Depending on which you buy, some can be tethered together to turn on and off at the same time.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

3. LED Light Bars

Like the other fixtures above, these are considered “plug and play” without messy rewiring. Most come with all the necessary hardware or adhesive patches, which makes installation a breeze. LED lights also have the added benefit of being very energy efficient. Unlike fluorescents, they are more adjustable, often with 3-way switches. Although they used to be more expensive, they’ve been around long enough now that prices have come down considerably, making them a great option.

Buy: LED Under Counter Lighting Kit, $25 for three

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

4. LED Tape

These combine the efficiency of LED bulbs with the flexibility of rope, making them an intriguing choice for your kitchen. They can be cut to size, are peel-and-stick, and you can do some fun things, like change the color of the lights to red or blue.

Depending on how you want to configure it, make sure the set you buy has everything needed: many of these kits are modular and you have to add in adapters, dimmers, and WiFi capability and Alexa compatibility. Even though their design makes it easy to cover some ground, just know that these don’t have the light output of the other options.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Best Way to Add Kitchen Lighting For Under $35