Designing your kitchen cabinets with lighting? You need power first

By Jim Mallery
RefacingCabinet.com Columnist

In this first of two articles on kitchen cabinet lighting, we'll first look at getting the power in place.

If you are unhappy with the display of your kitchen cabinets, even after adding some glass doors, maybe you should brighten them up--put lights inside the cabinets. But in order to get cabinet lighting, you need to get power in there. Here are 4 tips for getting electricity inside your cabinets.

4 Ways to Empower Your Kitchen Cabinet Lighting

  1. Foresighted builder? If you have space above your kitchen cabinets, especially if you have a vaulted ceiling or higher-than-normal ceiling, get up on a ladder and look around. A builder with foresight may have installed a power outlet in the wall above the cabinets, knowing that an owner might want some display lighting up there. And if he truly had foresight, he also included a switch for the receptacle somewhere on the backsplash. From the top, it is easy to drop a concealed power cord into the cabinet or to wire recessed cabinet lighting.
  2. Remodel? If you are in the process of a major kitchen remodel, it is fairly simple to run a power line up above the cabinets from a backsplash outlet, or to hardwire for lighting inside the cabinets. If you are not familiar with electrical wiring and code, you may want to hire an electrician. Your municipality probably requires a permit for such work, and even if you wanted to circumvent the permit process, safety's sake requires knowledge of the electrical code. For instance, if you are planning on tapping into the circuit along the backsplash, you need to know the size of the electrical box and how many wires are running through it (wire-fill). You may have to replace the box with a larger one to accommodate the added wires.
  3. Backsplash. You can use outlets in the backsplash. To keep the plug from jutting out, you can get a flat, 90-degree plug, the type that refrigerators usually have. You can tack the cord against the underside of the cabinet with insulated staples to hold it out of sight. Judicious placement of a set of canisters, a peppermill, or other countertop adornment covers the plug.
  4. Into the void. You can drill a small hole in the bottom of the cabinet to run the wire inside. If you have face-frame cabinets, you can tack the cord along the front corner of the cabinet and you would have to poke your head inside the cabinet to see it. Most cabinets have a gap between each unit of cabinetry. If you look at the cabinets from the top, you see the gap--it may not be visible from the bottom. This is a convenient void that gives your cord a concealed route to the top of the cabinet.

These are some ideas for getting power into your kitchen cabinets. In the next article, we'll explore ways you can harness this power to light your kitchen from the inside out!




About The Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.

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