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Old 11-20-2012, 09:44 PM   #1
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


I currently am redoing a wall in my kitchen, it is down to the studs. While it is open, I'd like to prepare for a future kitchen remodel (not having to reopen the wall to run wire).

I plan on having undermount cabinet lights, hardwired most likely LED, controlled by a switch. The cabinets/lights will be on either side of a window.

I'm thinking of running conduit from the switch box (located above the counter in the backsplash area) up to a box that will be in the area of the upper cabinet. From that box, another conduit to another box on the other side of the window (also in the area of the upper cabinet).

I imagine the LED lights will need some type of driver that is hard wired then low voltage run to each set of lights. We, of course, want the electronics out of sight.

The only problem is, we won't be doing the remodel for a few years (new cabinets etc) so I don't know the heights of the future cabinets (up to ceiling or not). I'm not sure how high I should put the boxes.

The wall is being foamed so I'd like to get this prepared for the future.

Does this sound like a good idea? How would you do this?

Sorry for the awkwardly worded post...

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Old 11-20-2012, 11:27 PM   #2
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


When I did my kitchen remodel 3 years ago, I ran 14/2 In-wall rated speaker/security wire. I ran a single cable from each cabinet location, (I had the cabinets already so I put the wires where they needed to be) to the under sink cabinet where I installed an outlet for the low voltage transformer to plug into. Mine are all halogen bulbs, but changing to LED in the future shouldn't be an issue.

Do you have an accessible basement space below or an attic space above? You could run your wires to one of these locations and plan on putting the transformer/LED driver there.

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Old 11-21-2012, 07:22 AM   #3
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


Thanks for the reply. I do have basement access under this area, it is where all the electric will run from and junction boxes will be.

Putting the transformer in the basement is a great idea. I'd then have to run some conduit up to where the lights will be for the LV wire.

Do your wires for the lights pop through the drywall near the bottom of the cabinet? Inside the cabinet or just under?
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:12 PM   #4
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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When I did my kitchen remodel 3 years ago, I ran 14/2 In-wall rated speaker/security wire.
Sounds like a code violation, since you have to use a Chapter 3 wiring method....
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:19 PM   #5
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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Sounds like a code violation, since you have to use a Chapter 3 wiring method....
Are you referring to "Class 3" wiring vs "Class 2" wiring? I remember asking about it on the forums here when I was in the process of doing the renovation, just like the OP is now.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:23 PM   #6
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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Are you referring to "Class 3" wiring vs "Class 2" wiring? I remember asking about it on the forums here when I was in the process of doing the renovation, just like the OP is now.
Not at all, check out article 411 of the NEC, the only way you can can run 30 volts and under inside a wall cavity would be to use a chapter 3 of the NEC wiring method. I.e. romex, mc, emt...
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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Originally Posted by wewantutopia View Post
Thanks for the reply. I do have basement access under this area, it is where all the electric will run from and junction boxes will be.

Putting the transformer in the basement is a great idea. I'd then have to run some conduit up to where the lights will be for the LV wire.

Do your wires for the lights pop through the drywall near the bottom of the cabinet? Inside the cabinet or just under?

My wires pop through the bottom edge of the cabinet (underneath) the small strip of wood under the bottom shelf.

Now that I think about it, I actually had the wires strung up inside the wall and I knew exactly where they were so when I went to do the cabinets, I marked out where they were going to land and I just drilled a 2" hole in the sheet rock (above the bottom edge of the cabinets) to fish my low voltage wire out. Since you don't have to paint behind the cabinets, you can mark the wall where you leave the wires at (or in your case the conduits). Conduit might be a bit excessive for low voltage lights, but I could see using the smurf tube so once its in the basement you can easily tie them all together into one junction box.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:26 PM   #8
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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Not at all, check out article 411 of the NEC, the only way you can can run 30 volts and under inside a wall cavity would be to use a chapter 3 of the NEC wiring method. I.e. romex, mc, emt...
So what about Security wiring? That runs on low voltage but you don't see people running romex for all the sensors in the house...
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:28 PM   #9
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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So what about Security wiring? That runs on low voltage but you don't see people running romex for all the sensors in the house...
Article 411 is strictly lighting systems under 30 volts... Not security systems. The amperage supplied for these lighting systems is much greater and poses a higher risk.

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Old 11-21-2012, 05:31 PM   #10
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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Article 411 is strictly lighting systems under 30 volts... Not security systems.

Ah, ok. Well if I ever remodel my kitchen again, I'll keep this in mind.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:32 PM   #11
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Ah, ok. Well if I ever remodel my kitchen again, I'll keep this in mind.
I've seen guys rough in doorbell wire for low voltage fixtures before, *shakes head in disbelief) and these guys were contractors.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:43 PM   #12
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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I've seen guys rough in doorbell wire for low voltage fixtures before, *shakes head in disbelief) and these guys were contractors.
Doorbell wire? I knew better than to use doorbell wire, that stuff is pretty light weight and to be used for anything other than a doorbell is just asking for trouble. At least the wire I used is 14 gauge and has an outer jacket rated for in-wall use, while it sounds like I did it wrong anyway, its far better than bell wire.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:34 PM   #13
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Preparing for Under Cabinet Lights


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Originally Posted by theatretch85 View Post
Doorbell wire? I knew better than to use doorbell wire, that stuff is pretty light weight and to be used for anything other than a doorbell is just asking for trouble. At least the wire I used is 14 gauge and has an outer jacket rated for in-wall use, while it sounds like I did it wrong anyway, its far better than bell wire.
I agree, I personally don't have any issues with what you did, just putting the code out there.

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