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The countertops beneath the cabinets in a kitchen can be really dark. Considering this is where you’ll be doing all your slicing and dicing, and letting your culinary creativity run free, it’s not ideal.
This is where battery operated under cabinet lighting comes into play. It shines on all our kitchen’s dark spots, giving us much better visuals as we prepare food (and they look slick too!). This is why, today, we’ll be checking out 5 of the best wireless cabinet lights in the biz.
What To Consider When Searching For Under Cabinet Lights
A long battery life is probably your first concern, and it’s a pretty good one, but there are some crucial factors to consider alongside it, including…
- Overall service life
- The dimensions of the light
- The style of the fixture
- Light output in both Kelvins (color temperature) and lumens (brightness)
- The installation process
OUR TOP PICK
These lights arrive in a pair, which gives you a bit of flexibility in terms of placement.
For longer cabinets, you can install them end to end, or for smaller sections, you can split them up to provide two discrete lighting solutions.
The thing I most appreciated about them during my tests was the motion sensor technology.
Not only does it give your kitchen a really futuristic vibe, it also prolongs battery life, and takes the onus of operation off you.
And speaking of battery life, if you stick to G mode (motion sensor), you can expect 2 months’ running time, which is pretty impressive, and best of all, they’re rechargeable, so no running to the store every time they run out.
- Rechargeable — Saves plenty of money over time
- Motion sensor mode — Extends battery life
- 350 lumens — Bright enough for delicate kitchen work
- Easy installation — No tools, nuts, or bolts required!
- Price — Cheap as a pair, but kitting out a large kitchen might get pricey
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This is a fantastic light strip from the folks over at Megulla. As is always the case with strips, it’s flexible, robust, and incredibly easy to install using an adhesive back.
But what makes this one stand out in the crowd is the awesome motion sensor.
During my tests, I found that the sensor is, well… sensitive, which is where a lot of similar products drop the ball.
As such, it really can help extend battery life and to make your life easier.
They give off 200 lumens, a decent amount for kitchen work, but not so much that it’s blinding or distracts from your established kitchen design.
Installation is a breeze thanks to the adhesive back, but it can leave a mark once removed, so be sure to get the placement right the first time around.
- Rechargeable — One set of batteries, and you’re good!
- Slimline — Looking for something unobtrusive? This is it!
- Easy installation — Just stick and go.
- Motion sensor — High performance and energy saving
- Battery life — A week during my tests (not bad, not great)
A selection of tap lights may seem like a strange choice for cabinetry, but for a smaller kitchen, they’re actually fantastic, especially if you want more control over your lighting.
Unlike motion sensors, that flash on whenever you’re near whether you need them or not, these can be flicked on when you’re good and ready to use them.
Granted, they’re only 50 lumens a pop, so they’re not the best option for particularly high cabinets, but even if they’re not serving a practical purpose, aesthetically speaking, they’re pretty darn cool.
Installation couldn’t be easier. As is the case with the previously mentioned lights, you just prime the adhesive back, pick your spot, slap it on, and boom; you’re done.
I personally tried out the warm white variant (and loved them), as I have a more traditional kitchen, but there’s a cool white version for the pro home cooks out there or those who have more of a modern kitchen aesthetic.
- Easy installation — No tools necessary
- 50 hours of battery life — Not bad for such small lights.
- Style — Almost nautical vibes (which I like)
- Tap activation — Not suitable for larger areas
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Here we have another awesome set of tap lights, but I’m not just throwing the same product at you; these are different in a few key ways.
First, they’re quite streamlined for a subtle touch. Secondly, they have a monster 100 hour runtime (even on full power), and they arrive with a nifty remote control for ease of use.
Although they don’t have a motion sensor, what I discovered during the course of my testing is that you can set an auto-off timer, meaning you never forget to turn them off and waste your battery.
They can be installed using adhesive tape, or if you’re feeling confident, with a drill and some screws.
As for color temperature, you’re looking at 3000K, which may be a little warm for some kitchens, but it can really bring out the character in wooden cabinetry if that’s what you’ve got.
My only gripe is that they’re not rechargeable, so if you want that in your under cabinet lights, you’ll have to invest in specialist batteries and a battery charger.
- 3000K — Easy on the eyes, but not too soft
- 100 hour run time — Absolutely best in class
- Remote control & auto shutdown — Easy to control and customize
- Not rechargeable — May end up spending more than you’d like on replacement batteries
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The Luminoodle is exactly what it sounds like — a noodle of glorious lights. Measuring three feet long, it’s perfect for extended sequences of cabinetry with lots of workspace beneath.
I took the 6000K daylight Luminoodle for a test drive (there is also a warm white option), and while it was a little too crisp and blue for me, it did offer the best focus and illumination of any other light on this list.
The battery pack is a little bulky for my tastes, but the lights are so glorious that attention is drawn well away from it, so it’s something of a non-issue.
My favorite thing about them is that they have more of a twinkly fairy light look, and it really does beautify not just cabinets and whatever’s beneath, but the space as a whole. They’re easy on the old wallet too!
- Lighting style — Twinkly fairy light look is fantastic
- Luminosity — If you need supreme clarity, the Luminoodle is for you.
- Easy installation — Stick and go setup takes seconds
- Length — 3 ft gives you a lot of glow for your green.
- Non-rechargeable — More batteries means more money.
- Battery pack — I feel it could be more discrete.
Also available from…
How Long Does It Take To Completely Recharge An LED Light Fixture?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you much of a specific answer here, as the duration of a full recharge differs from light to light, but generally speaking, you’re looking at something to the tune of 2–6 hours for a small to medium sized fixture.
But this isn’t just dependent on the type of fixture, but the charging method too. For instance, if you’re charging your lights with your computer via a USB cable, you can expect to wait a little longer than if you plug it into a wall outlet.
How Do You Change The Batteries Of A Puck Light?
To reveal the battery docks, simply twist the back off the light. They’ll typically use three AA batteries a pop, and beneath the cover, you’ll find space for all three.
Remove the spent cells, and replace them with your new ones, making sure to align the poles correctly. That means that the flat sides of the batteries are against the springs, while the ridged sides are against the panels.
Positioning Cabinet Lights: How Is It Done?
There are no hard, fast rules for positioning your cabinet lights. If you want to do it a certain way, then go for it — you do you! But there are established norms you can take inspiration from.
Puck Light Placement
As they have a round beam with limited spread, it’s best to position puck lights right in the middle of the underside of your cabinets.
You also don’t want them spaced too far apart, as you’ll end up with dark spots between the beams.
Strip Light Placement
With strip lights, you can bring them forwards slightly, towards the end of the cabinets. They’ll provide nice, continuous light across whatever’s beneath.
Centering them like puck lights isn’t a terrible idea, but the trick is not to waste any of the beam against the wall, as this limits their efficacy.
Stick Light Placement
In my opinion, stick lights should be even closer to the lip of the cabinet, as far from the wall as possible, but don’t have them touching the cabinet ridge, as this can lead to thermal issues. Give them a couple of inches of breathing room and everything will be just fine.
Is It Worth Investing In Under Cabinet Lighting?
I believe there are two reasons to invest in under cabinet lighting. 1. You have lots of counter space beneath them and you want to make your kitchen as functional as possible. 2. You just like the wow factor they add to your kitchen.
If either sound good to you, then under cabinet lighting is a worthy investment, and, as you’ve seen from my suggestions, they’re almost always affordable.
That said, if you want recessed cabinet lighting wired to the electricity of your home, you’re looking at a significantly larger bill for professional installation and lots of materials.
How Long Can I Expect My Under Cabinet Lights To Last On A Single Charge?
Again, it’s hard to give a specific answer here. Some will last for as long as 100 hours before you’ll need to recharge or replace the batteries; others won’t last anywhere near as long. It all comes down to the design and how often you use them.
Generally, if you operate your cabinet lights for roughly 3 hours each day, they should last you a month, easily. I would highly recommend investing in rechargeable cabinet lighting or failing that, in some rechargeable batteries and a charger.
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to battery powered under cabinet lighting, so make sure you shop around and see what’s on offer. Waiting somewhere out there will almost certainly be the cabinet lights of your dreams. In fact, they’re probably on this list!