When selecting under cabinet lights manufactured for task lighting in any room or work area, it is important to choose fixtures that will present as much of a low profile visible presence as possible and produce an even wash of clear, glare free lighting over counter tops and work benches. Most cabinet lighting manufacturers provide a broad range of options to accommodate both standard cabinet dimensions, new construction builds, and glare reduction to prevent reflected light from straining the eyes. Contractors and end users alike, however, run into difficulty when trying to match custom cabinet dimensions to standard strip lighting lengths or when retrofitting new equipment to older cabinets in homes under remodel. It makes much better since to eliminate the time often wasted in trying to find a perfect match for a custom piece by simply ordering from a custom under cabinet lighting manufacturer. Because these under cabinet light lighting fixtures are custom fabricated to order, fixtures can be both tailor made for new build outs or retrofitted to fixer uppers with only minimal damage, if any, to existing surfaces.
Another drawback presented by lower commercial grade and retail strip lights is inadequate glare shielding. Most under cabinet lights are manufactured with frosted lenses intended to soften the intensity of the light and minimize excessive glare. While they do a good job in keeping the light below levels that would actually blind a person, they provide insufficient shielding to completely eliminate the indirect glare that that can reflect off of granite, marble, or glossy surfaces. This presents a nuisance to a person working in a kitchen or washing up in a guest bathroom, and in work areas, even indirect glare over prolonged periods of time can create eyestrain. To overcome this, custom manufacturers, design under cabinet lights or task lighting products that eliminate both direct and indirect glare altogether. Unlike some puck lights that are partly visible, custom strips are so compact they lie completely hidden from view. Instead of frosted lenses, they use metal glare shields specifically engineered to anticipate the wise variety of counter tops in custom homes and commercial environments. This completely eliminates glare while maintaining optimal clarity. Regardless of the viewing angle, custom, proprietary lighting strips conceal the light source and virtually eliminate glare.
One of the main causes of glare to begin with lies in the actual positioning of under cabinet lights. Manufacturers of fluorescent under cabinet fixtures tend to design them to mount on the back wall with the light thrown forward. This of course causes both indirect direct and indirect light to shine into a person’s eyes. By contrast, custom manufactures often design low voltage under cabinet lighting strips to more efficiently mount beneath the front end of the cabinet underbelly. This mounting technique works best with linear strips that are relatively small in size. Larger fixtures cannot support their own weight in many cases without the “back rest” of the wall, thus creating the forward throw of annoying, excessive light. More compact, LED strip lights, strategically angle the light from the front of the cabinet onto the workspace. These linear strips that rely on unique lamping designs create a more ambient pattern of luminosity that cascades downward in an even layer of light that is clear but not blinding.
The most cost conscious choices for under cabinet LED strip lights are those manufactured as 12VAC strips. Higher-end lighting lamps such as xenon that normally consume greater amounts of electricity by design will use less power when installed on a low voltage linear strip. Some manufacturers will also make 24VAC cabinet lights with incandescent bulbs for more standard kitchen and break room lighting. Some, like Phantom Lighting, have recently introduced superb LED replacement lamps that can competitively match quality to industry mainstay light sources at only 80% of the power consumption rates of previous technology. This allows for both relamping upgrades at a fraction of retrofitting costs, and for LED puck light replacements that pay off with long-term power cost savings with a more aesthetic, minimized physical presence.
One final thought to always remember when purchasing higher-end linear strips—The best under cabinet lighting manufacturers custom make their lights to your needs rather than requiring your needs to bend to their mold.