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Old 02-23-2012, 11:37 AM   #1
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


Hello all,

Here's my situation: I'm in the middle of a full kitchen reno and before I close up all the walls I'd like to explore the option of hard wiring some under cabinet lights. An electrician has already done the majority of wiring throughout the room, including the installation of a sub panel which will come in handy.

I am thinking of either fluorescent or led, with two separate areas operated by the same switch.

So how should I go about this? Just want you opinions on what is the "right" thing to do.

My options as I (confusingly) see them:

I could run a new line for the under cabinet lighting to a switch, then from the switch to the lighting areas. - but maybe it's a little wasteful to have an entire circuit dedicated to just two sections of under cabinet lighting?

I could try to take power from the existing lights - but I'm not totally sure how the wiring works here. I have 14/2 coming into a light switch already. Can I splice here before the switch and take this line to power a another switch (and then the lights)?

In any case, once I get power to my new light switch, what is the best way to wire the separate light areas? I know you can link lights together, but my two areas will be far enough apart that the visible wire would be too great. Do I need to have the wires meet in a junction box or can I have two separate wires coming into the light switch? I guess I'm asking for help on how to wire a light switch to operate two separate lights.

And finally, is there anything wrong with putting this new light switch inside a double gang with my dedicated counter plug? (not sharing the circuit but just sharing the box rather than have them separate)

The kitchen in question is located in Toronto, Canada

I know it's a lot of rambling questions. Any help you can give would be great!


Last edited by demandrew; 02-23-2012 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:36 PM   #2
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


First off, I will state that I am not an electrician........so I am just going to give you a run down in regards to how I did mine, and im sure the pros will jump in and give their feedback.

My situation was in a bar, in my basement. I had a drop ceiling so I was able to branch off a junction that was controlling a string of recessed lights. I ran a line from that junction into another junction above the bar, wired in a switch and then ran my 3 separate lines into the wall through the top plate so that they could be pulled through the wall in order to wire up 3 separate lights.

I would have ran them on one line, however I don't have the ability to run them under the cabinets due to the different heights.

That's my .02

It's not finished yet, so i can still change it. I was actually going to ask a similar question in the near future.

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Old 02-23-2012, 03:45 PM   #3
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


I'm not sure what you can and cannot do in Canada, but I went with 2 24" hardwired LED lamps under the cabinets on either side of the sink and I'm very happy with it. They share a circuit w/ the lamp above the sink etc. The countertop has it's 2 own circuits.
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Old 02-23-2012, 04:22 PM   #4
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


Thanks for the replies.

I guess I'll continue to do my research. I'm still a bit of a noob when it comes to electrical but I'm also confident that I can learn and at the very least tackle this one part of the job rather than call back the electrician.

I've reviewed my plans, and it may no longer be an issue to just string a series of lights together, in which case i would only need to rough in at one point and then wire all the lights from there. The only question now is where to draw my power from.

Can anyone advise me on pulling power from a light switch?
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Old 02-23-2012, 05:03 PM   #5
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


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Originally Posted by demandrew View Post
Hello all,

Here's my situation: I'm in the middle of a full kitchen reno and before I close up all the walls I'd like to explore the option of hard wiring some under cabinet lights. An electrician has already done the majority of wiring throughout the room, including the installation of a sub panel which will come in handy.

I am thinking of either fluorescent or led, with two separate areas operated by the same switch.

So how should I go about this? Just want you opinions on what is the "right" thing to do.

My options as I (confusingly) see them:

I could run a new line for the under cabinet lighting to a switch, then from the switch to the lighting areas. - but maybe it's a little wasteful to have an entire circuit dedicated to just two sections of under cabinet lighting?

I could try to take power from the existing lights - but I'm not totally sure how the wiring works here. I have 14/2 coming into a light switch already. Can I splice here before the switch and take this line to power a another switch (and then the lights)?

In any case, once I get power to my new light switch, what is the best way to wire the separate light areas? I know you can link lights together, but my two areas will be far enough apart that the visible wire would be too great. Do I need to have the wires meet in a junction box or can I have two separate wires coming into the light switch? I guess I'm asking for help on how to wire a light switch to operate two separate lights.

And finally, is there anything wrong with putting this new light switch inside a double gang with my dedicated counter plug? (not sharing the circuit but just sharing the box rather than have them separate)

The kitchen in question is located in Toronto, Canada

I know it's a lot of rambling questions. Any help you can give would be great!
You may not necessarily be able to pull your power from the switch in question. You say that it has only a single 14-2 wire entering the switch box? If this is the case, then you have no neutral and will need to get power from somewhere else.

As for controlling your two separate lighting areas with the one switch, yes once you get power into your new switch, you can run two separate wires to each of the lighting areas, which will then be controlled with that one switch.

And yes, you can install your new switch in a double-gang box with your counter receptacle.
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:09 PM   #6
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


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You may not necessarily be able to pull your power from the switch in question. You say that it has only a single 14-2 wire entering the switch box? If this is the case, then you have no neutral and will need to get power from somewhere else.
Just to clarify, there is a hot, neutral, and ground coming into the switch, and then a hot, neutral, and ground leaving the switch to my ceiling light. I guess I forgot to mention the 14/2 that's leaving the switch.

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Originally Posted by hawkeye11 View Post
As for controlling your two separate lighting areas with the one switch, yes once you get power into your new switch, you can run two separate wires to each of the lighting areas, which will then be controlled with that one switch.
Are there a few ways to do this or just one? Through my browsing I seem to have gotten a few conflicting methods, some involving two hot wires, others not. Can I simply tie the two hots and then pigtail to the switch and then do the same with the neutrals then have two separate wires going to their separate lights?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:17 PM   #7
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


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Just to clarify, there is a hot, neutral, and ground coming into the switch, and then a hot, neutral, and ground leaving the switch to my ceiling light. I guess I forgot to mention the 14/2 that's leaving the switch.


Are there a few ways to do this or just one? Through my browsing I seem to have gotten a few conflicting methods, some involving two hot wires, others not. Can I simply tie the two hots and then pigtail to the switch and then do the same with the neutrals then have two separate wires going to their separate lights?
Oh ok, then yes you can pull power from the switch box. But before you do, you should be aware of everything else on that circuit (plugs and or lights), so that if you decide to pull power from that circuit, it won't be overloaded with the new sets of lights.

And yeah, once you have power into your new switch box, and you decide to send out two 14-2 wires to your new lights, then: the black 'hot' conductor goes onto the switch, all three whites get connected together, and the two blacks going to your lights need to be connected and pigtailed onto the switch.
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:20 PM   #8
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


Haha, looks like trent beat me to it. But yeah, everything he said is perfect!
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Old 02-23-2012, 07:31 PM   #9
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


Thank you both for your enthusiasm.

Don't think there should be a problem with the circuit as at the moment it is just the one ceiling light and that's it.

Although it will actually require more wiring to go from the switch rather than from the subpanel on a new circuit, but I think in the long run it will be better to save space in the panel.

Thanks again for the help. I'll let you know how I get on.
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:51 PM   #10
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


If you go the LED route (my preference), you'll have another consideration. LEDs are usually 12 volt DC. How will you convert your 110 VAC to 12 VDC? The easiest way is to use a small, plug in power supply. But then you need an outlet. What I did was put outlets in my cabinets, plugged in small transformers then ran low voltage wiring to the LED strips. That sort of wiring is very easy and forgiving.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:25 PM   #11
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If you go the LED route (my preference), you'll have another consideration. LEDs are usually 12 volt DC. How will you convert your 110 VAC to 12 VDC? The easiest way is to use a small, plug in power supply. But then you need an outlet. What I did was put outlets in my cabinets, plugged in small transformers then ran low voltage wiring to the LED strips. That sort of wiring is very easy and forgiving.
If you are going to run low voltage lighting, the best thing to do then is run a new circuit. Near the panel, mount a box with a low-voltage transformer, and then run your circuit to the switch and lights.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:27 PM   #12
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


I guess I should decide soon then if I want LED or if I'm content with fluorescent.
I had ruled out xenon and halogen because of how hot they get, and I was starting to veer away from LED because I didn't like the sound of dealing with a transformer, despite the fact that they're longer lasting than anything else from what I've read. I dont know, maybe I'm just a tradtional kinda guy and like the fluorescent. Is LED much better? One guy was telling me that he uses LED but only high voltage LED so he doesn't have to bother around with transformers or low voltage wires and can just do a normal hardwire into bars of high voltage LED lights.
I guess I also liked the cheapness of fluorescent. Can anyone speak about the quality of light given off by both?
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:36 PM   #13
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


Oops, I was going to go with the LED as well and totally forgot about the transformer....lol!

Looks like I may be going with something else, since I already have my J-box wired up and wired roughed in.

In regards to my previous post, does everything sound ok as to wiring everything together in a junction and then dropping into the wall for my 3 separate lights?

Or would there have been a better way to wire them and avoid the junction all together?

Sorry to thread hijack, just didnt want to start a new one based on the situation being similar.
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:58 PM   #14
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Hard wiring under cabinet lighting


I went with fluorescent. I have one pretty wide cabinet and two narrower ones. The wide cabinet has two 25W units and each of the narrower ones has a single 35W unit. All four are on one switch, which shares a box with the switch for the overhead cans. Everything is in a daisy chain, from the switch to the first unit, to the middle two units, to the last unit. Since it was new construction we were able to run the connecting runs in the wall behind the base cabinets. In your installation, if the attic is accessible, it might be easier to run from the switch up the wall into the attic and across. Put in a junction box and drop a T down through the wall behind the upper cabinets to each fixture location.

One nice thing about the fluorescents I picked out is that they have a (small) junction space inside the fixture. That way, you don't have to mount junction boxes under the cabinets. However, I'm not totally sure that type of fixture is code in Canada.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by fa_f3_20 View Post
I went with fluorescent. I have one pretty wide cabinet and two narrower ones. The wide cabinet has two 25W units and each of the narrower ones has a single 35W unit. All four are on one switch, which shares a box with the switch for the overhead cans. Everything is in a daisy chain, from the switch to the first unit, to the middle two units, to the last unit. Since it was new construction we were able to run the connecting runs in the wall behind the base cabinets. In your installation, if the attic is accessible, it might be easier to run from the switch up the wall into the attic and across. Put in a junction box and drop a T down through the wall behind the upper cabinets to each fixture location.

One nice thing about the fluorescents I picked out is that they have a (small) junction space inside the fixture. That way, you don't have to mount junction boxes under the cabinets. However, I'm not totally sure that type of fixture is code in Canada.
Yeah, that is what I did. Nice and neat, and works for me since I am using a suspended ceiling.

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