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Written by Chris Johnson on September 23, 2015

New Home Project: Over Cabinet Lighting

While my house was under construction, I had the electricians install electrical outlets on either side of my kitchen directly above my cabinets. These outlets are controlled by a single wall switch. Once we moved into our home, I measured the total length of the cabinets where I could place the microfluorescent fixtures.

Since I knew I was going to be using a number of fixtures (both for my over cabinet as well as my pantry and closet lighting) I chose one size to be used in all of my lighting projects. This made stocking replacement fluorescent lamps easy since I only needed to worry about one size / wattage lamp. For all of my microfluorescent T4 uses I chose a 24-watt fixture (34.5 inches long). I also made the decision to use warm white instead of cool white lamps. As I stated in my pantry and closet lighting post, I prefer the warmer color temperature for a residential setting.

To ensure that I had enough light and to minimize dark spots between fixtures, I installed two rows of microfluorescent T4s on top of my cabinets. Each microfluorescent fixture comes with a cord and plug, two mounting clips with screws, and an inline direct connector.

In addition to being plugged into an electrical outlet, the microfluorescent fixtures can be linked together using either the included inline direct connector or a 90-degree direct connector, 3-way direct connector, or flexible linking cables. When I purchased my fixtures, I purchased a number of flexible linking cables to create a chain of fixtures above my cabinets. Since I used 24-watt fixtures, I was able to link together five fixtures on one outlet. In general, the maximum wattage in one chain of T4 fixtures is 200 watts. However, for the 22-watt and above fixtures that are on a single circuit, five linked together is the max.

To say that my over cabinet lighting installation was easy is a severe understatement. In fact, I am not aware of too many projects that are easier that I have tackled. Clearly having the electrical outlets and switch installed during construction helped my cause. However, one of the reasons that I am big fan of our microfluorescent fixtures is how easy they are to install for a number of different uses. I think that my entire installation took 15-20 minutes. I simply placed each fixture directly on top of my cabinets. I then linked one fixture to another until I had my maximum of five. Once I had five, I moved on to another chain of fixtures using another one of my outlets above the kitchen cabinets. I spaced out my two rows of fixtures to maximize the light and minimize dark spots. Finally, once I had the placement of each fixture the way I wanted, I screwed one or two mounting clips per fixture into the top of a cabinet in order to minimize future movement of any fixture.

Voila! That was it. I then turned on my switch and I was done. I had fantastic over cabinet lighting that, I think, looks great (pics below)! One idea that I wanted to do, but something got lost in communication between me and the electricians, was to have each row of microfluorescent fixtures over my cabinets on separate switches. This way I could have one row of fixtures on to create a "low" light setting, and then turn on the second row to have a "high" light setting. Unfortunately, the electricians and I did not get on the same page and I only have one switch for both rows of lighting. No big deal, but the individual switches for each row of fixtures would have been cool. If you can, you should try it.

Project Photos

One of the electrical outlets controlled by a switch over my kitchen cabinets.

Picture of electrical outlet

Rows of microfluorescent T4 fixtures over my cabinets

Row of microfluorescent lights

Over Cabinet Lighting On

Over cabinet lights on

Over Cabinet Lighting Off

Over cabinet lights off

If you have any questions about over cabinet lighting or our microfluorescent fixtures please submit a comment below. We would really enjoy hearing from you and helping however we can.