Why In Cabinet Lighting?
Adding a little light to the interior of a cabinet can be absolutely transformative. Not only do in-cabinet lights bring items to light from the shadows, but a whole room can be transformed by cabinet accent lighting. A glow radiating from your collection of precious things draws the eye and mind to the things you have on display. Don't be surprised if you even sense a little magic in the air.
LED Cabinet Lighting vs. Other Light Sources
The "cool" thing about using lighting inside a cabinet is that there are lots of options for light fixtures that do not produce much heat. The reason folks have seen a huge push in LED inside cabinet lighting (and before that, fluorescent and microfluorescent lighting) is that LED lighting is efficient and looks great. A note about efficacy: Heat radiating from a light bulb is wasted energy (except in a heat lamp situation). LED and fluorescent in cabinet lights waste less energy than incandescent types. Therefore, they are cooler to the touch. An added bonus is that the lack of intense heat will likely be better for your belongings in an enclosed cabinet or case.
So, you can see why LED and microfluorescent cabinet lighting fixtures are so popular. They are energy efficient and gentler on displayed items. They also can give off light that resembles the familiar light of incandescent. The fact that similarity to incandescent light is a metric for evaluating the attractiveness of LED and fluorescent light says something important, though. Incandescent lighting, and its many manifestations, including xenon and halogen, has its benefits. This is the familiar light you've grown up with, and it wouldn't remain so popular if the light produced by incandescent in-cabinet lights was not generally attractive and effective.
Some common applications for inside cabinet lighting are display cabinets, china cabinets, hutches, and curio cases. You will find in cabinet lighting at trade shows and craft fairs, in mansions and studio apartments, in retail shops, kiosks, museums, and galleries.
In display cabinets, microfluorescent light bars or LED light strips are some great choices because of the even illumination they provide. Both microfluorescent and LED cabinet lights come in warm white color temperatures, so there is no need to imagine the bluish or greenish light of yesterday's LEDs and fluorescent lights. Those were the olden days! Now both types of in cabinet light fixture can give you a nice, warm white or neutral look.
For cabinets and hutches, you sometimes want lighting that gives you a little more drama than the very even light offered by light bars and strips. Puck lights are great for highlighting individual objects or groups of objects and are a popular option for curio cabinet lighting, for example. The way that puck lights illuminate things in beams rather than even bars creates a light-and-dark visual rhythm that people generally find appealing.
There are no set rules: These are just some common ways people think about and utilize interior cabinet lighting.
Where are you planning to use inside cabinet lighting? Will it be permanent or temporary? Is it residential or commercial? Will there be multiple cabinets or just one? Would you like to be able to control the lighting with a single switch? Answering these questions will get you closer to finding the perfect solution.
For cabinets in residential or commercial spaces, miniature recessed lighting is a great option. You can find them in a variety of installation types. There are battery operated, as well as plug-in and hardwired. Cabinet downlights can give you a clean look that's hard to beat.
Puck lights can often be installed as recessed or can be surface mounted. They also come in hardwired or plug-in varieties and utilize a range of light sources. Puck lights are one of the most versatile types of fixture out there, but they really "shine" inside hutches.
LED tape, LED rope, and LED strip lighting are great lighting solutions that are generally easy to install. Many applications of LED in cabinet lighting involve running LED rope or tape with mounting clips. LED light bars are generally more rigid and install in a manner more similar to microfluorescent fixtures. These solutions provide an even light inside your cabinet.
Finally, small picture lights, or cabinet mounted picture lights, are also quite popular. These usually come with all mounting hardware included, are easy to install, and are powered by a single on/off switch located on the fixture or cord.