DIY Network

Install an Under-Cabinet Light Strip

Add light to a countertop and brighten up your kitchen with this easy DIY project.

More in Electrical

  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Highlights:

Step 1: Create a Path for the Wiring Run

Choose an outlet in the countertop backsplash below the wall cabinet where you will install the light strip. At the circuit breaker panel, shut off power to the outlet.

Unscrew the outlet receptacle and pull it out of the box to expose the wires. Take care not to touch the wires or outlet terminal screws until you use a circuit tester to be sure that all power is shut off.

Use a hammer and screwdriver to punch out the electrical box’s center “knockout” (a circular slug covering an access hole in the back of the box).

Drill a 3/8” hole into the wall directly above the outlet, close to the bottom of the cabinet.

drill hole into wall directly above outlet

Step 2: Install the Light Fixture

Position and mark the location of the light strip under the cabinet.

Drill pilot holes for the screws.

Use screws to attach the light fixture to the bottom of the cabinet. Screws may be provided with the unit, but be sure they are not too long to penetrate the cabinet bottom.

Step 3: Run the Light Strip Wire to the Outlet

Cut the plug off the light strip power cord. Cut the wire about 2" above the plug so that you can determine which wire is neutral. On two-prong polarized plugs the larger prong connects to the neutral wiring, and the small prong connects to the “hot” wiring, or power source. The plastic jacket on the plug’s neutral wire may be ribbed or marked with a stripe.

Use a fish tape to pull the light-fixture wire down to the electrical box. Thread the fish tape up through the access hole in the box, and use a wire (such as a bent coat hanger) to pull the tape end through the hole in the wall.

Use electrical tape to attach the light strip cord to the fish tape, and pull the cord down through the wall to the box.

run light strip wire to outlet

Step 4: Connect the Wires and Replace the Outlet

If the light strip doesn’t have an on/off switch, replace the existing outlet with a switched outlet. Wiring directions vary for switched outlets, so be sure to follow the directions provided with the device.

Strip 1” of insulation off each of the light strip cord’s wires. For a standard duplex outlet, connect the neutral wire to an available silver terminal screw and the other, current-carrying, wire to a brass terminal screw.

Reinstall the outlet into the box and replace the cover.

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