UNDER CABINET LIGHTS... hard wired in kitchen - HELP???


We're getting ready to get our new kitchen cabinets and want to pre- wire for the under cabinet lights. We're going to tap into the power off the light switch that currently runs only the light above the sink and add in a single gang double switch so the sink light and the under cabinet lights run independently. The cabinets will be coming with light kit molding that will run around the bottom edge of the wall units.
The question is where we run the wires to the lights, how do we come out of the wall? We are planning on four (4) outlets to the lights as the wall units are on two walls and one wall is divided by the kitchen sink, the other wall is divided by the stove/over stove microwave. I am looking at two choices. First, just run the 14/2 Romex out small holes in the drywall at a position that should be just below the edge of the wall units, leave enough wire to connect and leave that hanging until ready to run. Secondly is to mount 2X4 boxes against wall studs recessed into the walls and either put a single round hole faceplate (like for a cable TV coax plug) and run the wire into the box and do the connection in the wall. Or wire actual 120VAC outlets and just put plugs on the lights.
We're kind of torn on which way to go but we're ready to wire so we need to decide quick.
Thanks!!!!
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On 7/25/2008 12:15 PM infiniteMPG spake thus:

This would be my preference (assuming it's kosher according to code, which I *believe* it is, but of course you have an architect and a licensed electrician to assure you on that, right?). Thing to do is to make sure the cables come out in the right place so they can go directly into the cable entrance for the fixture, which is considered a closed unit according to code.

I wouldn't mess with any of these other options. Much more work, unnecessary and messy.
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On Fri 25 Jul 2008 12:41:45p, David Nebenzahl told us...

When we had this done in a previous kitchen, we had 12 lights installed. The wiring came through the wall and through the bottom rail of the cabinet at the back. The light strips had a knockout at the center of the back of the fixture, so no wiring was visible at all.
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So you did not have the light strips at the front of the cabinet?
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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On Fri 25 Jul 2008 08:56:32p, Don Wiss told us...

No, at the back of the cabinet. With the recess under the cabinet, they could not be seen. We had light colored countertops, so the light spread well.
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On Fri, 25 Jul 2008 12:15:07 -0700, infiniteMPG wrote:

I put in lights beneath the wall cabinets. I made a 1/2" hole in the wall for the Romex and then attached it to each light fixture using a suitable Romex connector. Once connected, I mounted the lights to the cabinets. Now, my fixtures were 18" fluorescent fixtures each with its own switch.
If I were to do it over, I'd opt for low voltage lights. I'd put the transformer in an out of the way location and then run wires to each fixture.
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suitable Romex connector. Once connected, I mounted the lights to the cabinets. Now, my fixtures were 18" fluorescent fixtures each with its own switch.
We are going to run the wiring so the switch on the wall that controls the ceiling lights will be a double switch, one to control the ceiling lights and one to control the under cabinet lights. When the Romex is pulled out of the wall it's okay to just leave the wire pulled thru a hole? No strain relief of anything? I feel kind of dumb asking that when the original contractor pulled the wire for the oven vent thru a hole they obviously punched thru the sheetrock with a hammer :O/ hehehehe

Thought about that but then the light switch would have to run the transformer and then the low voltage wires be run to all the lights in order to use a wall switch to control them all. Probably will replace the wall switch with a dimmer to control the effect down the road and don't think I could have that option with 24VDC lights.
Thanks!
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On 7/25/2008 12:54 PM infiniteMPG spake thus:

The cable should be connected to the fixture using a "suitable Romex connector" as the person above stated. This is a cable clamp (probably marked "NM" or some such, for non-metallic cable) that will fit exactly in the hole provided in the light fixture. This is what you're probably thinking of as a "strain relief" (basically prevents the cable from being pulled out of the fixture).
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connector" as the person above stated. This is a cable clamp (probably marked "NM" or some such, for non-metallic cable) that will fit exactly in the hole provided in the light fixture. This is what you're probably thinking of as a "strain relief" (basically prevents the cable from being pulled out of the fixture).
That end I don't have a problem with, it's where the Romex runs from inside the wall to outside the wall. Just pull it thru a hole? I was originally thinking a 2X4 box there and then use a single small holed faceplate to run the wire out. Do you mean to just have like a 3/4" hole in the sheetrock and have the Romex pull out the hole and then into the light fixture with a clamping style connector?
Thanks!
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On 7/25/2008 1:38 PM infiniteMPG spake thus:

Yes, exactly. No need for a box. Consider the fixture to be the equivalent of a box with a connector on it.
Not a dumb question at all, by the way.
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On 7/25/2008 1:38 PM infiniteMPG spake thus:

I should have added, yes, assuming that there will be none (or only a little) of the Romex exposed under the cabinet. Ideally, the cable will run directly into the fixture from the hole in the wall, but if it's some distance away from the wall, then you have exposed Romex, which is a no-no. So the correct answer is, it depends on the location of things.
If the fixture is some distance away from the wall, then you might have to use something else, like MC (metal-clad cable), in which case you'd have to put a junction box somewhere in the wall to connect the Romex to the MC.
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I thought having a junction box hidden in an inaccessible location (like behind a wall) was a no-no.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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I had 3 switched outlets installed above the cabinets on 3 walls (there is 1 foot of space above the cabinets) these outlets are out of site when you look up, I plug the LV transformers into there and run the LV lights wherever I want both above, below and inside some glass door cabinets. Three wall switches control each wall's cabinet lighting separately. I prefer LV lighting for on/in cabinets, its safer.
If you dont have room above for concealed/switched outlets then maybe your code will allow outlets to be installed directly behind the cabinets with deeper mud plates so you can trim them inside the cabinet, this is how I did the outlet for my microwave shelf which is basically an open cabinet with an outlet.
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I also put switched outlets out of sight above my cabinets. But I used 110V lighting. No transformer. I feel its one less thing to deal with. The hockey puck lights I bought have 6 foot tail cords on them. What I did was staple them under the cabinet, then fed the cords up through a hole I drilled, the cord rides up inside the front corner of the cabinet where you can't see it, the it goes out of the top through another hole I drilled where it plugs into the outlet. I actually used a small 3 outlet extension cord to plug in all the lights. I also have rope lights on the top. Here are some pics http://picasaweb.google.com/mikerock92/UndercabinetLighting
First pic shows the light and how it goes up through the cabinet Second pic shows the cord. I pulled it out on purpose to show how it runs inside the cabinet Third pic shows it coming out on top Fourth shows the outlet above the cabinet.
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Under the NEC, there's nothing wrong with exposed Romex, it just can't be subject to physical damage. Of course there could be a more restrictive local code. Undercabinet lights should be set at the front of the upper cabinets, to illuminate the entire countertop, so likely there will be some exposed Romex. Or you can put a false bottom on your cabinetry so it is not exposed.
Cheers, Wayne
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We ordered an under cabinet light kit with the cabinets and we're assuming this is just molding that gets added to the base of the cabinets so it hides the lights. Thinking of flouresents near the front edge of the wall units shining back towards the wall so you see the brightness but not the light. We're pretty set on 120VAC lights but any preference on flouresent, puck lights (as in the pictures in the previous post), LED's, or something else? We were going to leave some room on the top but it would be only a couple inches so we're probably going to put the top trim molding against the ceiling to save having an impossible to clean cr@p trap.
Thanks to everyone for the info! Scott
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trap.
I like the look of the xenon fixtures. They are usually line voltage so you don't have to install a transformer and they have a nice warm color. Kichler has a nice line, but they can be pricey. Check out some lighting stores. Leave enough slack on the Romex sticking out so you have room for adjustment. I usually leave about three feet hanging out. I usually mount the lights in the center between the wall and the front edge of the cabinet.
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When I did a kitchen with an architect they were opposed to the harsh light from fluorescents. So they found an incandescent that was a tube that went under the cabinets nicely. I still have the specs for the job and I could look it up.
My second kitchen renovation was in a rental. I just picked up something from Home Depot. As this was 10 years ago I don't recall, and as I almost always have a tenant I don't get a chance to check. But it was not simply a fluorescent tube.
For my next kitchen, which is sorely needed, I am leaning towards LEDs. I like their low power consumption, but I don't know how well the light will be spread out. As finances are such that this kitchen is still in the future, I'm hoping that technology will advance.
Don <www.donwiss.com> (e-mail link at home page bottom).
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infiniteMPG wrote:

OK, that gets you the black wire. Where are you going to get the pretty white one? IOW, what am I misunderstanding?
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