5. Switched Outlets Design
This Kitchen lighting is a plug and play system using plug in power supplies, custom flex strips and several cables. The power supplies are plugged into switched outlets that were installed above the cabinets so that the customer could turn the lights on and off from a wall switch.
Measure available space for flex:
Start by measuring out the entire length of the area where the flex strips will be mounted. Once you have the full measurement of an area, you will need to subtract 3” in order to make room for the cable connectors on each side. For this project, the customer had to measure out lengths for the tops of the cabinets and for the underside of the cabinets. Before measuring the cabinets, it is good idea to know where you plan on mounting the flex strips.
Mounting the flex strip:
Under cabinet flex- There are two common mounting options when it comes to under cabinet flex strips. The first option is mounting the flex on the front trim of the cabinet with the LEDs facing towards the backsplash. Mounting the flex this way will highlight the backsplash and help to eliminate a reflection off the counter top. The second option is to mount the flex strip 2” from the front of the cabinet with the LEDs facing straight down. Having the flex mounted in this format will give the most task light under your cabinets. The second option, of mounting the flex straight down, is what the customer decided to do for this install.
Above cabinet flex– Just like mounting flex strips on the underside of the cabinets, there are two mounting options when it comes to placing flex above the cabinets. One option that can be used, if there is accent trim on the cabinets, is to run the flex on the trim so that it angles the lights towards the corner where the wall and ceiling meet together. The other place to mount the flex strips is about two inches from the back wall, so that the light runs up the side of the wall giving it a nice glow. For this kitchen job the customer went with the second option and mounted it 2” from the back wall.
Once you have decided on where you want to mount your flex strips, you will want to clean the areas of where the flex will be installed. Use isopropyl alcohol to remove any dust or dirt that may be on the cabinet where the flex will mount to.
Dividers under cabinets:
In most cases there will be dividers under and on top of the cabinets that separate them from each other. When there are dividers under the cabinets you can make a slight modification to them to make installing the LED flex easier and more affordable. The two modification options are to either make a slot in these dividers for the flex to fit in or drill a ½” hole in them for the flex strip to slide through.
In this kitchen set up, the customer has daisy chained all of their flex strips in two different runs. Both of these runs start on top of the cabinets, where the power supplies are mounted, and then run down to the under cabinet lights. Hiding the cables for the above cabinet lights tend to be easier because most of the cable will be hidden on top of the cabinets. On the occasion when the cabinets are different heights, such as the two cabinets on the left of the stove in this design, you will want to hide the cable inside the cabinets. Typically the best way to do this is to run the cable to the front of the cabinet and then drill a hole in the top front corner of the cabinet so that the cable can hide behind the stile (vertical pieces of the front frame). Be sure that the hole drilled is ¾” in diameter for the connector to fit though. Then you will need to drill another hole into the side of the taller cabinet so that the cable comes out on top of the lower cabinet. When drilling the hole into the side of the cabinet make sure that it is low enough so that it is hidden behind the top trim. When it’s time to daisy chain the top lights to the under cabinet lights you will once again run the cable to the front of the cabinet and drill a hole in the top corner going inside the cabinet. Once the hole is drilled, run the cable behind the stile of the cabinet until it gets to the bottom corner. Drill another ¾” hole in the bottom corner of the cabinet so the cable can pop out the bottom and plug into the under cabinet flex strips.
After running the cables you will want to plug in the power supplies to make sure the lights are all working properly. As mentioned earlier, the power supplies in this job were plugged into switched outlets that were installed above the cabinets. This allowed the customer to be able to turn their lights on and off from a wall switch.